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Summer Internship Program

The application window for Summer 2021 has closed.

The Penn Museum offers 150 to 300-hour nine-week paid summer internship opportunities for undergraduates, recent graduates, and graduate students from any college or university. Internships are comprised of a project-based placement in a Museum department and the Museum Practice Program, which includes orientation, weekly lectures, collections tours, a field trip to a local museum (if the program is in-person), and final presentations. Interns are expected to attend the Museum Practice Program in order to participate in a Summer Internship (see below for exceptions). The Museum only hosts paid interns during the summer (see below for funding opportunities).

group shot of the 2019 summer interns

About the Program

Internship Dates: June 7 - August 6, 2021

Weekly practice program: Wednesdays 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm

We are currently planning for an in-person summer, pending a decision from the University of Pennsylvania. Your safety remains our top priority. View our safety guidelines here. Some programs may be offered remotely.

The Penn Museum strongly encourages applications from students who are members of groups underrepresented in careers related to museums.

How to Apply

Prior to completing the online application form, you should prepare the following

  • A 500-word maximum essay describing how your skills, interests, and experiences relate to the department(s) to which you are applying
  • A cover letter*
  • A resume or curriculum vitae*
  • Transcripts (unofficial preferred*)
  • 2 letters of recommendation from a current or former college professor, academic advisor, or employer who can speak to your qualifications for this internship. The letter must be sent separately via email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with the applicant’s full name in the subject line.

* Please follow these file naming conventions: last name, first name_document type. Example: “Lastname, Firstname_cover letter.pdf”

Finalists will be contacted for interviews. Accepted interns will be notified between mid-March and early April 2021.


Penn Museum Intern Stipend

All applicants to the Summer Internship Program will automatically be considered for a limited number of intern stipends. Interns will receive stipends of $2,250 for 150 hours up to $4,500 for 300 hours ($15/hr), to cover the costs of living expenses. Applications are particularly encouraged from African American, Latinx, Native American, and other underrepresented minorities in departments such as collections, conservation, registration, and curation.

Penn Summer Humanities Internship Program (SHIP) Stipend

Each year the College of Arts and Sciences and Center for Undergraduate Research & Fellowships at Penn fund summer research internships for Penn undergraduates as part of a summer institute for University of Pennsylvania students in the humanities and social sciences. Eligible Penn students should complete both the Penn Museum internship application and the SHIP application. Please check the SHIP website for more details. If you are eligible, please select the “I plan to apply for SHIP funding” box when filling out the Summer Internship Program application.


Penn and non-Penn students eligible for federal work-study can apply for summer work-study from their home institutions to participate in the Summer Internship Program between 150 to 300 hours. If you are eligible, please select the “I plan to apply for work-study funding” box when filling out the Summer Internship Program application and check with your Student Employment office to ensure you have been awarded an appropriate allocation for summer work-study.

Arts Intern Program & Stipend

These internships run separate and start later than the Penn Museum Summer Internship Program and require attendance at the weekly program organized by Arts Intern. Interns are not required to attend the Museum Practice Program organized by the Penn Museum. However, they are encouraged to attend if their schedule permits.

Founded by Agnes Gund in 1999, Arts Intern provides opportunities for college undergraduates to learn about nonprofit arts professions through paid internships in museums and cultural institutions. The program seeks candidates with demonstrated financial need and encourages applicants from diverse cultural backgrounds. Please check the Arts Intern website for eligibility and opportunities in Philadelphia, including at the Penn Museum. Arts Intern positions will be posted in January on the Arts intern website and applicants must apply separately through Arts Intern. Note: these positions will not be listed on the Penn Museum Summer Internship Program application.

Travel Reimbursement

Travel funding is available for interns who are not local to Philadelphia. Please select the “Travel Reimbursement” box on your application if you would like to be considered for funding towards the costs of travel to and from Philadelphia for your internship. Funding for travel will not be available if the program is remote.

Other funding opportunities

If you are offered an internship placement at the Penn Museum without a funding offer, you will have until May 1 to find external funding. You will need to supply an award letter for funding that is equal to or greater than $15/hour.

Applicants are encouraged to explore external funding through their home institution, professional organizations, granting organizations, work-study eligibility, and elsewhere. Check with the career services or undergraduate research office at your home institution for funding opportunities. For example, graduate student members of the AIA in the field of archaeology may be eligible for funding through the Elizabeth Bartman Museum Internship scholarship.

Native American, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian women, including gender non-conforming individuals, who are undergraduate or graduate students in the fields of archaeology and museum studies, may be eligible for the SAA’s Bertha Parker Cody Award for Native American Women.

Academic Credit

The Penn Museum welcomes the opportunity to work cooperatively with schools awarding academic credit for internships. Applicants are encouraged to initiate arrangements for credit with their colleges or universities. The Penn Museum does not grant academic credit.


  • Current undergraduate and graduate students, as well as recent graduates from any college or university are eligible to apply.
  • Must be either a U.S. citizen or international student with visa authorization to work for off campus employment (if a non-Penn student).
  • Must be available to attend the weekly Museum Practice Program.
  • High school students are not eligible and instead should apply to the Teen Summer Internship program.

Are international students eligible to apply?

Yes, we accept applications from international students enrolled in degree-granting programs. Non-Penn international students will need CPT or OPT authorization in order to work and be paid.

Academic Engagement

The Academic Engagement department supports instructional use of the Penn Museum’s galleries and collections for university-level classes, student research on the collections, and extra-curricular programming for the Penn university audience. Internships in this department include collections work with objects used for course objectives and student research; research and writing on the Museum's own projects and programs; and marketing and event planning for the Penn student audience. Projects vary based on intern skills and interests, from collections work (object handling, photography, and collections database use) to archival research and writing about museum expeditions and research projects, or even class and event planning for upcoming exhibitions.


At the Penn Museum Archives, we collect the stories behind the artifacts. The archives include records of the Museum’s archaeological expeditions to every inhabited continent, the history of the Penn Museum, and the history of the fields of archaeology and anthropology. In addition to field notes and correspondence, we hold three-quarters of a million images and nearly one thousand reels of motion picture film.

Interns assist with the archival care and management of documents (including letters, diaries, field notes, and plans and drawings) and photographs (prints, lantern slides, and glass and film negatives) from the Museum’s historic anthropological and archaeological investigations around the world. Interns work closely with the institution’s archivist on all aspects of archival processing, arrangement, and description, including preparation of finding aids. Interns will also gain experience in basic preservation skills, cataloging, digitization, and assisting with archival reference requests.

A successful applicant has good organizational skills and attention to detail, basic research skills, and the ability to work independently. This is an excellent opportunity to learn and refine skills related to primary source research, synthesis, writing, and editing.

This internship will not be offered if the program is remote.


The Penn Museum collections span 11 curatorial sections representing a vast array of material culture from around the world. Projects vary from section to section and year to year, but in general, interns working with collections learn basic collections management skills such as object handling, cataloging, photography, and collections database use.

Collections research projects are assigned on a case-by-case basis, depending upon applicant skill sets and interests, such as language proficiency, area studies, material studies, and photography, etc. These projects are well suited for interns with a high attention to detail, strong organizational skills, and the ability to work alone or in a pair.


The Penn Museum’s Conservation Department is tasked with the long-term preservation and conservation of the Museum’s object collections. The Department’s regular duties include review, treatment, and setting exhibition parameters and travel requirements for all objects going on exhibition or out on loan; working with Collections staff to provide the best possible environment for the long-term preservation of collections in storage; and providing conservation consultation for Museum staff, researchers, students, and the general public. The Department also manages and staffs the Artifact Lab: Conservation in Action, a public conservation lab, and is currently reviewing, documenting, and treating objects for several upcoming exhibitions and the Ancient Egypt and Nubia Galleries.

A summer internship in the Conservation Department will include opportunities to work on projects and tasks typically offered to conservation pre-program interns as a chance to learn more about the education and training that is required to become a professional conservator. Projects may include assisting with gallery maintenance, re-housing artifacts for storage, examining and documenting artifacts in the collection, and other assignments.

Knowledge of the conservation field, experience working in museum collections, and/or coursework in fine arts, archaeology, anthropology, chemistry, and other sciences is a plus, but not required. This internship is well suited for applicants with high attention to detail, excellent organizational skills, and the ability to work independently.

Plans are in progress for a remote version of this internship if necessary.

Cultural Heritage Center

The Penn Cultural Heritage Center is working on a research project about cultural heritage destruction during conflict and political violence. Although recent examples of cultural heritage destruction are notorious—the National Library of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1992, the Bamiyan Buddhas in 2001, the Timbuktu mausoleums in 2012, and the ancient city of Palmyra in 2015, to name only a few—we lack a fundamental understanding of why cultural heritage is targeted.

To address this pressing social concern, the Penn Museum's Penn Cultural Heritage Center is seeking an intern to analyze reported instances of cultural destruction. This internship is open to anyone, but those with knowledge of Arabic or Serbo-Croatian are especially encouraged to apply.


Development interns will assist with prospect research in support of the Museum’s major gift efforts, while also gaining some experience in the areas of membership, special events, prospect management, and more. The position will include training in Altru, Blackbaud’s latest state-of-the-art industry software, as well as opportunities to assist in the development of new donor programs and funding sources.

In addition to learning the daily operations of a development office, the summer intern has the potential to make major contributions to a number of special projects. Possible special projects include: identification, screening, and research of potential donors for the Penn Museum’s major gallery renovation plans; assistance for summer programming and events; database maintenance and clean up; and Membership research and reporting.

The summer intern should be an enthusiastic learner but does not need experience in archaeology or anthropology. A successful candidate will possess strong research and writing skills; experience with, or interest in learning about, databases and data analysis; and the availability to work some evenings and weekends as needed.


The Exhibitions department is divided into three sections: interpretive planning, exhibition design, and exhibition preparation. An interpretive planning intern assists in researching and organizing upcoming exhibitions, including the development of timelines and checklists; produces exhibition text panels and labels; and closely collaborates with curators, scholars, researchers, designers, and preparators as exhibition ideas become realized. Interns in exhibition design will be exposed to and assist with the design of 2D and 3D exhibition elements, including case design, display, and fabrication. Exhibition preparation interns aid in the planning and fabrication of exhibition architectural elements and multimedia.

All interns will be involved with gallery maintenance, exhibition installation and de-installation, and aspects of the fabrication process. Applicants should be ready to think creatively and be prepared for a hands-on experience. The internship offers the opportunity to become involved with the day-to-day operations of various exhibition departments and to gain a practical working knowledge of creating exhibitions within an internationally renowned museum.

Duties vary per internship, needs of individual departments, and projects. A successful candidate will have excellent written and verbal communication skills with administrative and organizational abilities, and solid computer skills. Microsoft Word, Excel, Google Docs, and design program (Photoshop, Illustrator or InDesign) experience desirable.

Group Sales

The Group Sales Department intern will work directly with the Group Sales Manager and Research Liaison on the creation of a pop culture guided tour (both in-person and virtual). This tour aims to make connections between Penn Museum objects and the contemporary world by highlighting the ways that modern popular culture is shaped by the stories and objects of the past. For example, the Birth of Venus inspired classical art like this statue, a well-known Renaissance painting, and Beyonce’s viral pregnancy photoshoot.

The intern will be asked to research the collections, make connections with pop culture, and develop, pitch, and write a full 50-minute tour, including any visuals that may be used to enhance the experience. A background in anthropology, archaeology, art history, or a related field is required. In addition to an interest and background in collections research, candidates must demonstrate creativity, the ability to think strategically, and an interest in pop culture. Strong candidates will also possess excellent organizational, writing, and communication skills, as well as enthusiasm for making the Museum accessible to a younger audience.

Learning & Public Engagement

The Penn Museum’s Learning & Public Engagement interns assist with K-12 and Group Sales offerings, which include tours, workshops, and hands-on activities and presentations for schools and adults. Interns will participate in general department upkeep, including supply inventory, classroom preparation for programs, organization and maintenance of teaching materials, and hands-on and organizational support to the department. In particular, they will assist with Homeschool Days, Teacher Talks, and, on a case-by-case basis, larger department initiatives, such as the International Student Reception, summer Storytime Expeditions reading program, or Discovering the Museum program for Chinese study abroad students.

Ideal candidates have experience in formal and/or informal educational settings, and an interest in object-based learning and museum studies. They must possess excellent organizational and communication skills and the ability to work both independently and in team settings.

Marketing & Communications

The Marketing and Communications Department builds overall brand awareness while supporting visitation and audience engagement across exhibitions Learning and Public Engagement programs, research, scholarship, and many other exciting initiatives at the Penn Museum. The department intern will assist in the execution and logistical operations of various communications media and marketing campaigns to support growing and diversifying audiences for the institution.

Ideal candidates will have excellent communication and project management skills and experience or familiarity with marketing, social media, and public relations. Proficiency with Mircosoft Office and social media platforms preferred, and familiarity with Adobe Creative Suite and content scheduling tools a plus. This role is an excellent fit for someone who wants to gain experience strategically balancing mission and business-based goals for a nonprofit organization while strengthening inclusive and accessible communications.

Primary duties include

  • Asset management of Museum photography, including editing and organization of images, focusing on special events, galleries, visitors, and special projects as needed.
  • Strategic promotions to expand awareness and attendance for public programs
  • Content contribution and scheduling across the Museum’s social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn). Creative brainstorming and copywriting for social media campaigns, updating the social media editorial calendar, and engaging social followers. Media and community outreach.
  • Asset coordination for Marketing and Communications monthly Analytics dashboard.
  • Research and outreach related to potential cross-promotional partnerships and other research projects and duties as assigned.

NAGPRA (Repatriation Office)

The intern will work closely with the NAGPRA Coordinator and assist with the implementation of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) through guided work and research experiences. NAGPRA, which passed into federal law in 1990, mandates a process for the return of human remains, sacred objects, and objects of cultural patrimony to Native Americans. Projects may include working with archaeological, ethnographic, and physical collections, assisting with consultation meetings, assisting with the repatriation of Native American human remains and cultural items, or administrative tasks. In addition, the intern will be introduced to the broader issues related to the fields of museums and anthropology, museum collections management, and artifact conservation.

This project is well suited for students with an interest in the fields of federal Indian law, anthropology, Native American studies, and historic preservation.

Pennsylvania Sumerian Dictionary

The Babylonian Section of the Penn Museum is home to the electronic Pennsylvania Sumerian Dictionary (ePSD), a project dedicated to creating a complete dictionary of the Sumerian language, which was used in ancient Iraq from roughly 3000 BCE to 100 BCE. The current online version of the dictionary is available here as part of Oracc, the Open Richly Annotated Cuneiform Corpus. Oracc forms an umbrella for a number of different online projects dedicated to the cuneiform world. The intern will contribute to the natural language processing of the corpus of cuneiform texts.

A successful candidate will be well organized, highly motivated, comfortable working with computers, and possess experience or familiarity with linguistics. Completion of an introductory linguistics class and an interest in semantics is preferred. While some knowledge of Sumerian or Akkadian would be useful, it is neither expected nor necessary.

This internship may not be offered if the program is remote.

Public Engagement

The Office of Public Engagement develops a wide range of programs for all audiences throughout the year. Under the supervision of the Associate Director of Public Programs, Tena Thomason, interns will assist with the planning and implementation of these programs, including the Museum’s successful Summer Nights concert series held every Wednesday from 5 pm to 8 pm.

A successful applicant will have excellent customer service skills and be comfortable working with visitors of all ages. Internship hours are flexible but must include Wednesday evenings from 4 pm to 8 pm.

This internship will not be offered if the progam is remote.

Registrar's Office

The Registrar’s Office is the central hub for coordinating the Museum’s collections-related activities across the 11 curatorial sections. An intern in the Registrar’s Office will learn about and participate in cross-sectional collections activities. These include standard collections management skills such as database entry and research. If remote, additional in-person skills will be shared remotely, such as object handling, photography, condition reporting, and processing collections.

The goal of this internship includes gaining familiarity and practical experience with Penn Museum Registration practices, such as acquisitions, loans, collections liaising for exhibitions, records management, integrated pest management, inventorying, and emergency preparedness.

Summer Camp

Penn Museum’s summer day camp is designed for children ages 6-13 and has been in operation for over 20 years. Through the scope of Penn Museum’s international collections, campers delight in topics such as mythology, dance, music, art, and customs from both long ago civilizations and modern cultures. Through gallery tours, art activities, games, and special guest performances, campers learn about the diversity of humankind from the past and to the present.

The Summer Camp Intern fosters a fun and positive learning environment by facilitating friendships and teamwork among campers. Reporting to the Summer Camp Director, the Summer Camp Intern assists with summer camp activities, including outdoor recreation time and weekly workshops. The Intern will research, design, and lead art-making activities and act as a mentor to camp participants. They will communicate with parents and enforce camper pick-up protocol at the camp’s sign-out station.

An ideal candidate has enthusiasm and experience working with children, preferably in an educational setting; excellent communication, leadership, and teamwork skills; and competence in teaching and administrative work. Patience, creativity, initiative, and flexibility are a must. Interns must complete a three-point background check in order to participate: PA Criminal Record Check, PA Child Abuse Clearance, and FBI Clearance. Interns will be reimbursed for these clearances. Preferred availability: June 14-August 13 from 11 am to –5 pm. Note: This internship does not fully coincide with the Intro to Museum Practice program.

This internship will not be offered if the program is remote.


Academic Engagement Department