Departmental Internship Descriptions

A large brick and concrete mansion viewed from above, with more buildings all around in the distance

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.

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

The Cross-Platform Publishing department handles all aspects of publishing at the museum, from print and ebooks—both exhibition based and more broad design theory—to gallery wall labels and digital table content. We also handle development and production of collection-based merchandise for licensors. We are always working on workflow, trying to re-think our content production habits in order to make us more responsive to daily culture and the changing needs of our target audiences. We’re also continually looking for new solutions and formats for publishing out content, taking advantage of digital tools and cross-departmental collaborations wherever we can.

We’re seeking a creative and curious intern who can help with all aspects of publishing at the museum. Book production (physical and digital) is a key project, which requires document and image wrangling, rights management, and copy editing work. Working on interpretation is a constant, which entails crafting text for wall labels through close collaboration with curators and education specialists. We’ll also need your help keeping our digital documents organized and accessible to the people who need them.

  • Meet and work with top professionals and practitioners in publishing and the digital/museum field.
  • 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.
  • Participate in decision-making that will affect the design and content of museum wall labels, printed books, and other published material.
  • Have your writing published on our blogs, and

You must have a keen editorial eye with the ability to see big picture as well as a fine-tuned attention to detail. You must have good organizational, writing, and communication skills. You must 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 Fragile Beasts: Designing the Grotesque and Hewitt Sisters Collect, 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. Intern will be involved in projects relating to the exhibition Fragile Beasts: Designing the Grotesque, which will be on view at Cooper Hewitt in the summer of 2016.  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.

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

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 who are developing the exhibition Jazz Age: Art and Decoration in 1920s America (working title). The exhibition for Cooper Hewitt, the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Musée des Arts Décoratifs will include an extensive exploration of the relationship of French and American taste and styles and the impact of France on the United States and vice versa. All the objects would benefit from additional research, and writing to adequately establish their importance for the exhibition as well as the collection and to enable Cooper Hewitt to present them on the web. This project may also allow the opportunity to cultivate publication development tasks, including updating exhibition checklists, and general research.

There will also be an opportunity to experience PDDA during the early development phase of an exhibition of studio jewelry from ca. 1950-the present.

As part of Cooper-Hewitt’s ongoing imaging and digitization of the collection for upcoming exhibitions, and digital media content, a significant number of PDDA objects need research and basic cataloguing to make their database records exhibition- and web-ready. Intern learning experience will include: reviewing existing cataloguing; entering data from paper records to the museum’s collections database; object research and basic object documentation, and possible opportunities to write entries based on research about objects.

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: Textiles

The Textile Department at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum holds approximately 26,000 examples of Western and non-Western textiles covering a period of over twenty-three centuries. In preparation for upcoming exhibitions, the Department will be conducting research on a variety of contemporary and historic textile topics, ranging from 20th century American designers to textile production waste to the science of silk.

As a part of the Textiles curatorial team, the intern will learn to compile bibliographies and research files on the assigned topics, and seek out contemporary design projects that relate to the topics of interest. Based on the research completed, the intern will be involved in the development of exhibition proposals with specific themes and subthemes outlined. The intern will have the opportunity to generate content for our website and in-gallery interactives, including the museum’s Object of the Day blog and interactive tables.

Intern must have excellent research, writing and communication skills, high attention to detail, and be able take direction well. Working knowledge of museum database systems is a plus.  Knowledge of Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Adobe Photoshop is required.

Curatorial: Socially Responsible Design

In 2007, the Design for the Other 90% exhibition opened at the Museum displaying design solutions that address the most basic needs for 90% of the world’s population not traditionally served by professional designers, and demonstrated how design can be a dynamic force in transforming and, in many cases, saving lives. The next exhibition in the series, Design with the Other 90%: CITIES, opened at the UN Headquarters and examined design solutions which are responding to the unprecedented growth of informal settlements in emerging and developing economies. The third exhibition, scheduled to open in New York September 2016, will focus on socially responsible design in the United States, exploring the intersection of poverty, prosperity, innovation, and design.

Intern will join a collaborative team of museum professionals helping to organize the 6,000 sq. ft. exhibition. Intern learn how to author digital profiles of supplementary design projects for the upcoming “Design with the Other 90%” exhibition, scheduled to open September 2016. Intern will develop skills in the preparation of labels, images, digital content, educational programs, and a related Process Lab exhibition. In addition, the intern will have the opportunity to input information into the museum’s database, fact check, prepare for internal presentations, and conduct additional research as needed.

Intern must have a strong interest in design, art and museum work along with excellent research, writing, organizational, and communication skills. Additional skills include professional phone manner, attention to detail, strong organizational skills, and the ability to work independently and cooperatively. The candidate must have working knowledge of Microsoft Word and Excel. Those who have previous museum or gallery experience, and/or knowledge of contemporary or historical design and art are encouraged to apply.

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 Corporate Membership program.
  • Learn Cooper Hewitt’s strategies and practices for expanding the museum’s Membership base.
  • Be involved in the process and organizational steps and details required to plan and host Cooper Hewitt’s special events and membership events.
  • Learn the importance of donor stewardship and Cooper Hewitt’s donor stewardship practices across all giving arenas.
  • Have the opportunity to learn about grant proposals and preparation.

Qualifications: 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

Cooper Hewitt Labs is a space for exploring what it means to be a museum in the Internet age. 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 Lab 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 provides an annual audience of over 40,000 K-12 students, educators, families and adults with innovative educational experiences. We enhance the understanding of design and design thinking by creatively engaging the public in the design process.

The Education intern will:

  • Collaborate with program managers to run successful programs that reach various audiences including teachers, teens, adults and docents.
  • Support managing team to prepare docent training materials for fall 2016 exhibitions as well as and participate in docent training sessions and serve as docent communication liaison.
  • Be involved in all aspects of the Summer Design Camp Program from camper registration to maintaining supplies and leading design activities.

Skills and experience:

  • Past experience working with adults and/or youth in an educational program a plus.
  • Good knowledge of Microsoft Office Suite.
  • Organized and detail oriented.
  • Ability to thrive in a team.


The Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Library is the major resource in the United States for books, trade catalogs, serials, pictures, and archival material covering design and decorative art from the Renaissance to the present. Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum and the Library explore the theory, history, process, material, pattern, use, and social aspects of designed objects (ranging from stained glass to computers) as well as the design of gardens, buildings, interiors, theater sets, and cities. The Library also features more than 8,000 rare treasures including several 16th century lace patterns guides, rare 18th century brass and furniture trade catalogs, approximately 1,700 pop-up books, and historic home decorating periodicals.

The Library intern will collaborate with staff to research art deco lighting designs found in the library’s E.F. Caldwell Lighting collection. The goal of the project is to uncover the diverse art deco patterns that Caldwell created for commercial, public, and residences through the country with a focus on major commissions in Chicago with the aim of producing an online resource in the future. The intern will have the opportunity to investigate online display options and make recommendations based on the platforms and tools available, which may include social media and the Smithsonian Libraries blog.

The intern will learn through discussions and readings about the Caldwell firm as well as the design elements and motifs that were employed in the art deco period. Additionally, they will learn how to conduct research in the Caldwell client files and on buildings and their architects throughout the country in which Caldwell lights were installed. Finally, working with staff, the intern will learn metadata organization in preparation for an online resource.

This project is ideal for a student pursing Architectural History, Decorative Arts, Art History or Library and Information Science with good computer, writing, organizational and communication skills. Knowledge of design, specifically Art Deco, would be helpful.

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