Departmental Internship Descriptions

Aerial view of Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum located in the former residence of Andrew Carnegie. Read below for information about the museum's hours and admission prices.

Communications and Marketing

The Communications and Marketing Department raises public awareness about Cooper Hewitt’s exhibitions and public programs through public relations, social media, marketing and advertising initiatives.

As a part of the Communications and Marketing team, interns will gain experience in press release writing, social media content development, audience research, marketing campaigns, list maintenance and development, and general administrative support. The Communications and Marketing intern will learn the fundamentals of effective public relations and marketing, within a museum context, including special event support, educational programming, and cross-departmental initiatives.

Intern must have excellent communication skills, writing skills, high attention to detail, and be a self-starter and team player. Working knowledge of various social media platforms, including Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram and Pinterest, is required.  Knowledge of Microsoft Word and Excel is required. Knowledge of PhotoShop is a plus.

The internship is well suited to students interested in careers in journalism, arts administration, or marketing.

Cross-Platform Publications

Cross-Platform Publishing sits at the nexus of Digital and Emerging Media, Communications, Curatorial, Education, Exhibitions, the Director’s Office, as well as Development departments and the Shop helping to originate, develop, manage, and publish almost all forms of content at Cooper Hewitt.The department is responsible for print and electronic publications—both exhibition based and broader design theory and history; development and production of collection-based merchandise for licensors; exhibition didactics; website and digital content; and tracking workflow.

The intern will be involved with all aspects of publishing at the museum, working across departments to generate ideas, problem solve, and execute projects. As a part of the Cross-Platform Publications team, the intern will gain an understanding of the real-world challenges that influence content production in a government bureaucracy aiming to reach both diverse public audiences as well as fulfill a scholarly mission. The intern will have the opportunity to participate in decision-making that will affect the design and content of museum wall labels, printed books, website, and other published material.

Projects include:

  • Book production (physical and digital), which requires document and image wrangling, rights management, and copy editing work;
  • Developing website content—through origination to design and implementation;
  • Publish on our blogs— channels and
  • Working on interpretation, which entails crafting text for exhibitions on labels and on digital tables through close collaboration with curators and education specialists.
  • Propose a summer-long project aligning with her/his own areas of interest and department initiatives.

Intern must have a keen editorial eye with the ability to see big picture as well as a fine-tuned attention to detail.  Must have good organizational, writing, and communication skills and be comfortable working in an open-ended, collaborative work environment. Knowledge of copyediting and proofreading conventions and procedures are preferred. Previous publishing or editorial experience a bonus.

Curatorial: Drawing, Prints & Graphic Design

Cooper Hewitt’s Drawings, Prints, and Graphic Design Department (DPGD) houses over 140,000 works of art and design on paper, ranging from Italian Renaissance drawings to 21st century digital graphic design. The Department will be preparing for upcoming exhibitions and publications, including After Icebergs and Surtout de Table, as well as the cataloguing, digitization and inventory of the Drawings, Prints, and Graphic Design collection.

Intern will be an integral part of the Drawings, Prints, and Graphic Design Department and will gain valuable insight into the preparation of labels, digital and web content, blog posts, and other Departmental tasks relating to exhibitions and publications. Surtout de Table, which will be on view at Cooper Hewitt in the winter of 2017, and the exhibition After Icebergs, opening at the museum in 2019. The intern will develop skills in cataloguing and digitization of the collection and will be involved in maintaining the collections database, conducting research and correspondence related to recent and upcoming acquisitions and loans, preparing for Collections and Exhibitions Committee presentations and researching for future exhibitions as needed.

Projects include:

  • Research, catalogue, and write Object of the Day entries on the recently acquired collection of Herbert Bayer graphic design, as well as other DPGD collection objects.
  • Conduct research related to the upcoming exhibition and publication After Icebergs on the iceberg oil sketches of Frederic Edwin Church.
  • Conduct research, catalogue, and write digital table texts on drawings to be included in the forthcoming exhibition Surtout de Table.

Intern must have an interest in art history or design history, a strong attention to detail, and be able take direction well. Knowledge of a foreign language is preferable.  Working knowledge of TMS is a plus.  Knowledge of Microsoft Word and Excel is required.

Curatorial: Product Design & DECORATIVE ARTS

The Department of Product Design and Decorative Arts (PDDA) is home to over 30,000 three-dimensional objects dating from antiquity to the 21st century, which form an important and comprehensive resource for the study of the history of decorative arts and design.  International in scope, the collection contains an exceptionally diverse assortment of objects, reflecting a vast range of historical styles and design movements.  Categories of objects within the collections include ceramics, furniture, metalwork, lighting, glass, jewelry, and industrial design. Some of the more unusual object groups include cutlery, buttons and Japanese sword fittings. In addition to caring for and physically managing these collections, the Department is responsible for researching and cataloguing its holdings, and participating in developing and mounting exhibitions.

The Product Design and Decorative Arts internship has two components: the first involves exhibition object research, cataloguing, and writing; the second involves creating and entering meta-data on the Museum’s collections database, TMS (The Museum System). Time will be divided equally between the two activities.

The intern will collaborate with PDDA curators to create label and digital content for several exhibitions slated for late 2017/early 2018. This entails researching and writing about the various exhibition objects or related collections objects. These projects may also require assistance with related exhibition development tasks, including updating exhibition checklists, and general research.

Intern projects include:

  • Contributing to Object of the Day Blog
  • Research for future acquisitions and exhibitions
  • Object research and cataloging

Strong sense of organization, accuracy, and thoroughness; Strong research skills; Knowledge of fine arts history, architectural history, social history; Good knowledge of Photoshop; Some digital photography skills to take and record object data, such as makers marks not currently documented; Care and willingness to learn museum-level object handling skills (enabling more hands-on documentation directly from an object); Willingness to learn the museum’s database software, TMS.

Curatorial: TRIENNIAL

In summer 2019, the Cooper Hewitt will open the next design Triennial. The curatorial team is currently in the process of selecting projects and candidates for this exhibition. The intern will be involved in researching projects, identifying new projects for consideration, creating power points, working on exhibition proposals, and collecting/organizing images of these projects.

Projects include:

  • Researching designers for the next Triennial; researching topics on the theme; writing summaries of research
  • Designing powerpoints and presentations
  • Organizing images in an image bank

Intern must be knowledgeable about contemporary design and have excellent research, writing and communication skills. High attention to detail, organized and self- motivated.

Working knowledge of museum database systems is a plus.  Knowledge of Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Adobe Photoshop is required.

Development & Membership

Cooper Hewitt’s Development & Membership team strategically secures funds from different sources—corporate sponsorship, foundation and government gifts and grants, special events, membership, and major gifts from individuals—which support the museum’s award-winning education programs, highly acclaimed exhibitions, and general operating costs.

The Development & Membership Intern will:

  • Learn PANDA and Tessitura (a top-tier fundraising software that is used in development offices across the Smithsonian and in museums across the country) to understand how to run queries and reports as well as update constituent information and research notes.
  • Gain insight into Cooper Hewitt’s strategies and practices for securing individual, corporate, foundation, and government funding for museum exhibitions and education programs, as well as learn strategies and practices for growing Cooper Hewitt’s Membership program.
  • Gain experience in Cooper Hewitt’s Corporate Member acquisition program by compiling information packages to share with Corporate Member prospects, follow up with interested organizations.
  • Develop skills in grant proposal preparation.
  • Intern will support Special Event Manager for summer events including Cocktails at Cooper Hewitt.

Intern is a self-starter with a professional demeanor, ability to multi-task, and attention to detail. Strong organizational, writing, and research skills. Knowledge of Microsoft Office (working knowledge of Adobe Photoshop and/or InDesign preferable). Strong interest in design, decorative/fine arts history, and arts administration including fundraising, and/or event planning

Digital & Emerging Media

How can we design and build online collections that are more than a basic catalog? How can we deliver the museum’s mission beyond our physical building? How can we enhance the in-gallery experience, and then weave it back in to the web? How can we research and understand and our visitors’ real motivations and needs? How can we make our services more informative, more explorable, and more interconnected with other museums? The Digital and Emerging Media internship is one part interaction design and one part infrastructure wrangling, mixed with a bit of paper, pixels, and 3D prints, an auto-generated Haiku or two, and the occasional baby panda or Design Eagle.

The department is seeking a creative, curious, digitally fluent, culturally engaged intern. He or she will work on the museum’s new website, content design and production, digital experiences, and interactive media. The intern should be a self-starter who is comfortable working in an open-ended, collaborative work environment. Additionally, he or she should like the idea of coming up with a concept, building a prototype, experimenting with it independently, presenting it to the team, and then revising it.


Cooper Hewitt achieves its mission to educate, inspire, and empower by helping our community to understand that design is all around them and how the design process can be a valuable tool in creative problem solving. Through its award-winning free programs, Cooper Hewitt works to share design and its process with everyone it touches and unearth budding design talent by exposing participants’ to designers from varied fields—directly addressing a lack of diversity in professional design fields. Learning about the way designers think and creatively solve problems is particularly helpful for all young people, even if their career goals do not include professional design. Why? Designers work collaboratively in teams and have to solve complex problems within defined limitations. Design also teaches empathy through its focus on the user. These are just two of the links connecting design-based learning to 21st-century skills, Common Core, STEAM, and College and Career Readiness.

An internship in the education department offers opportunities to assist with developing content and execute design based programs for teen, kids, and K12 audiences. An intern will learn how design based learning is shared with a variety of audiences and program formats. Working directly with youth audiences, the education intern will put in to practice object-based learning, inquiry and design process education.

Projects included:

  • Development of K-12 educator content for exhibitions and Cooper Hewitt’s online collection.
  • Involvement in all aspects of the Summer Design Camp Program from camper registration to maintaining supplies and leading design activities.

Strong writing and research skills; Understanding of project based learning; Proficient in Microsoft office software; Fundamental understanding of teaching methods; Experience assisting or teaching youth audiences


The Operations Department oversees the day-to-day museum campus activities and public spaces as well as the fabrication and implementation of museum exhibits including all gallery interactives and A/V.

The intern would learn about developing, implementing and trouble shooting gallery interactives as well as the planning, scheduling, installation and budgeting process of exhibition fabrication and graphics.

Projects include:

  • Exhibition development for 2017 Process Lab and Collection Selects.
  • Time lapse capture

Intern must be Mac savvy. Ability to lift, carry and stand on a ladder. Interest in lighting and camera / photography. Programming experience a +

Featured Image: Aerial view of Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum located in the former residence of Andrew Carnegie