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Student Exhibition Internship

Application Deadline Has Passed
The student exhibition internship cohort.

The Penn Museum offers a paid internship for three Penn undergraduates to create a small exhibition with Museum staff.

The year-long internship focuses on the planning, development, design, fabrication, and installation of a small exhibition featured in the Penn Museum. Interns will learn first-hand about the curatorial, content development, administrative, and design aspects of staging an exhibition in a large museum. After the exhibition’s opening, students will implement educational programs and events for the Museum’s public and academic audiences.

2022-2023 Student Exhibition
Student interns examining artifacts in a lab.

Key Questions

Unlocking Florida’s Ancient Past

What was shore life like in Florida thousands of years ago? Ancient artifacts preserved for centuries in the muck off Florida’s southwest coast continue to reveal secrets nearly 125 years after they were recovered.

View Exhibit
Students handling artifacts.

2021-2022 Exhibit

Closed Feb. 26, 2023

Heritage in Our Hands: UNESCO 50 Years Later

What does heritage mean to you? In 1972, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) came together to identify and protect important heritage sites around the world. Since then, over 1,000 buildings, cities, and landscapes have been added to the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Song Dynasty Tomb

Among the most interesting and beautiful objects in the Museum’s Chinese collection are the objects from a Song dynasty tomb, including two tall ‘spirit jars’ (hunping 魂瓶), over thirty figurines, and several porcelain dishes. This tomb set is the earliest and most complete of its type and provides a window into the Buddhist and folk-religious practices of southern China nearly a thousand years ago.

Unglazed, standing Daoist figure. He wears a head mantle fastened with three bands, and holds a long staff. Unglazed standing Daoist figure with beard, possible 土地公 the Earth king. Unglazed, standing female figure dressed in tunic and trousers. More crudely made than other in the set.

Prepare the following and submit by the third Friday in April:

  • A 500-word essay describing the skills, abilities, and experiences that you bring to the Penn Museum, with specific reference to the exhibition theme
  • A resume or curriculum vitae
  • A letter of recommendation from a University of Pennsylvania professor who can speak to your qualifications for this internship

Undergraduate students currently enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania, in good academic standing, preferably with some experience in archaeology, history, anthropology, art history, or other fields that explore issues related to the exhibition topic, are welcome to apply. Interns are selected based on their academic background, research and writing skills, and ability to collaborate with peers and Museum departments.

Candidates should be enthusiastic, organized, self-motivated, and able to work both individually and collaboratively as part of a diverse team. Successful candidates will have experience conducting research and should be able to work on a variety of tasks as priorities require, demonstrate excellent communication and writing skills, and be extremely detail oriented. Candidates must be able to interact in a professional manner with Museum visitors, patrons and supporters, researchers, and other staff.

The Student Exhibition Internship Program takes place over the course of the academic year and the exhibition opens in March.

The internship requires an average of five hours per week, including two hours of curatorial and exhibition meetings. Interns are expected to conduct research, select objects, and write exhibition text outside of these meetings.

After candidates are selected, interns will meet with Penn Museum staff and the academic advisor to discuss the program and exhibition theme. Over the summer, interns are expected to read and respond to a small number of selected readings related to the exhibition theme to prepare for curatorial research beginning in the Fall semester.

Over the course of the academic year, interns will meet weekly as a curatorial team and with the Exhibitions Department of the Penn Museum to plan, develop, design, and fabricate the exhibition, as well as design and implement programming related to the exhibition. Interns will work closely with the curatorial team, the Exhibitions Department, collections staff, and conservators. In the Fall semester, interns will develop the exhibition theme, select and research objects, and write exhibition text. In the Spring semester, interns will focus on the design and fabrication of the exhibition, as well as creating and implementing programming related to the exhibition for the Museum’s public and academic audiences.

The Student Exhibition Internship Program is a paid opportunity. Interns are awarded a stipend of $1,400 ($700 per semester).