At NMAH, the goal of our internship program is to support and shape the future of museums by providing meaningful and inclusive professional learning experiences that promote equitable access to the field.
Providing supportive professional learning experiences is foundational to any internship at NMAH. We also believe equitable access is a crucial component that helps diversify and strengthen our field.
The NMAH Internship Program defines equity in accordance with the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) as "the fair and just treatment of all members of a community." Ensuring equity requires acknowledging and respecting that people have different needs and committing to meet those needs.
In order to ensure equitable access, our internship program works towards identifying and addressing systematic barriers to internships in the museum field. For example, unpaid internships are prevalent in museums, which creates a high financial barrier for many potential interns. With this in mind, in 2020 we began providing equitable internship stipends as an integral part of our program at NMAH. These stipends are available to all interns based on their self-disclosed level of need, dependent on available museum funding. We have also created a more transparent recruitment process with step-by-step instructions, clear internship postings, online webinars, and application review guidance for mentors. Additionally, all applicants (unless applying through a pilot program or an official partnership) are now required to apply through our standard application process, rather than through individual nomination, so that every applicant gets a fair chance at review.
We are also in the process of developing new connections with various colleges, universities, and organizations to ensure that our partnerships are serving our program’s goals of equity, access, and inclusion.
NMAH is proud to announce the Goucher College Prison Education Partnership (GPEP) Alumni Internship Program, which serves as a model for creating equitable access for communities historically excluded from the museum field. In this program, which is specifically designed for formerly incarcerated students and alumni of GPEP, interns gain professional experience through museum placements that support their future careers. In addition to the typical support that is available to all NMAH interns, GPEP interns receive specific professional development opportunities and equitable stipends that address the different needs of individuals who have been formerly incarcerated in order to support their reintegration into a professional community.
As of Fall 2020, we are currently in the pilot phase for this program and will host five interns in our first year. To learn more about the GPEP Alumni Internship Program, you can check out Goucher College's press release!