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Smithsonian Affiliations Intern Partnership Program - Summer 2009

What is the Smithsonian Affiliations Intern Partnership Program?
Founded in 2001, this program provides students in affiliates' communities with the opportunity to gain practical skills and experience in the museum field. The Morris Museum of Art is an affiliate institution of the Smithsonian.

The program is open to college and graduate students whose academic backgrounds and career aspirations lie in the museum field. Through a competitive application process, candidates first submit their application materials to the Morris Museum of Art for pre-approval. From these candidates, the year's intern partners are selected to come to the Smithsonian to work with Smithsonian staff in subject areas or on projects that complement an affiliate's own endeavors.

Intern partners typically work full-time (40 hours per week) at the Smithsonian for ten weeks during the summer months. At the end of the summer, intern partners return to school but continue their projects and enhance their experience by interning 12–15 hours per week for up to four months (i.e., the fall academic term) at the Morris Museum of Art. Intern partners frequently develop lifelong friendships and a series of professional contacts. The structured, supervised setting of an intern partnership promotes intellectual and professional growth while mutually benefiting the student, the Smithsonian, and the Morris Museum of Art.

What are the deadlines and time frames?
Please contact the Morris Museum of Art about deadlines.

Stipend provided
An intern partner receives a stipend totaling $4,000. Smithsonian Affiliations and the Morris Museum of Art each contribute one half ($2,000) of the total stipend.

The distribution of $4,000 to the intern partner is as follows:
$2,000 Paid during the internship at the Smithsonian
$2,000 Paid during the internship at the Morris Museum of Art

$4,000 Total

What about housing and other activities?
The Smithsonian does not provide housing for interns, nor is there a specific housing office at the Smithsonian. As such, intern partners are responsible for their own living arrangements during their time at the Smithsonian, and most rent apartments or live with friends or family in the area. Many intern partners additionally find temporary housing on Washington, D.C.'s college campuses or in youth hostels.

Throughout their stay, intern partners are encouraged to participate in a wide variety of summer enrichment activities. These may include a visit to the U.S. Capitol, Smithsonian-sponsored social events—brown bag lunches, ice cream socials, and after-work softball games—networking opportunities, seminars, and behind-the-scenes tours.

Smithsonian Affiliations also invites intern partners to attend sessions of the annual Smithsonian Affiliations National Conference each summer and holds a special awards ceremony and reception for intern partners and their Smithsonian mentors.

Smithsonian Affiliation Intern Partnership Program Sample Projects

Over the years, Smithsonian Affiliations intern partners have been integral to exciting projects with affiliate institutions nationwide. A few recent examples are outlined below.

  • An affiliate institution was planning a new exhibition that would entail borrowing artifacts from the National Museum of American History, Behring Center (NMAH). The affiliate encouraged a local undergraduate to apply for an intern partnership. The student first interned with staff in NMAH's graphic arts collections, where she identified prints and researched contemporary portraits, landscape paintings, maps, and allegorical and iconographic images. She also consulted with staff in the NMAH Preservation Services Division and learned basic collections care and standard exhibition practices for mounting paper objects. She returned to college that fall and interned several hours each week at the affiliate institution and helped in developing the exhibition.
  • An affiliate museum involved in a major expansion recruited an area graduate student in public administration. The student and the affiliate museum's director submitted an application for the student to become a Smithsonian Affiliations intern partner. She spent the summer with senior staff and administrators at the National Postal Museum researching policies on everything from collections care to risk management and security. She also learned fundraising and membership development techniques and explored issues relating to community outreach and board relations. She returned to the Affiliate museum in the fall and participated in the museum's long-range strategic planning by sharing her experiences.
  • An affiliate historical society co-sponsored an undergraduate history student in the Intern Partnership Program. She worked with staff in the Smithsonian Center for Education and Museum Studies to create regional teacher workshops and educational resources. During the summer, she observed teacher workshops and laid the groundwork for one that the affiliate would be hosting. During the second half of her internship with the affiliate in the fall, she finalized logistics and actually helped to run the teacher workshop. She also researched specific artifacts in the Smithsonian's and the affiliate's collections. Photos and explanatory text about these artifacts were later incorporated into an instructional web site for students and teachers.
  • An affiliate had undertaken a long-term, joint project with the National Museum of American History, Behring Center (NMAH) to increase access to collections via digital finding aids. The affiliate co-sponsored an intern partner, who spent the summer in NMAH's Archives Department learning about the process for inventorying archival materials, publications, images, oral histories, and artifacts. Along the way, he identified relevant collections that made good candidates for digitization and use by the affiliate institution. Back at the affiliate institution, he was instrumental in adding the first installments to the digital collections, thereby advancing that institution's capacity for scholarly research, teacher training, and distance learning.
 
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