Summer 2019 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.

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.

digital and 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 thinking programs for teen, kids, and K-12 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 may include:

  • 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.

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.


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 plus.

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