Museum Studies

Information for Intern

Purpose of the Internship
The Michigan State University Museum Studies Program Internships are supervised work experiences designed to complement the theoretical, methodological, and practical instruction received in MSU’s Museum Studies courses, and to assist in preparing students for professional careers in museums. Ideally, this experience should occur after completing the other courses associated with the Museum Studies specialization.

The internship should serve as an opportunity for the student to develop patterns of professional behavior and skills, and to apply academic knowledge to a museum work situation. The internship should be constructed so that the student gains experience appropriate to a position that s/he may ultimately seek, i.e., curator, educator, registrar, administrator, exhibit designer, public relations officer, collections manager, preparator, digital assets manager, etc.

Student interns and sponsoring institutions should benefit equally from the internship relationship. For the student the objectives of the internship include:

– to function as a professional within a museum environment, as well as in the broader community of museums;

– to increase awareness of current and practical museum issues and trends;

– to gain knowledge of the organizational structure of a museum and to develop understanding of governance and administrative operations;

– to acquire knowledge and skills related to specific areas of museum work;

– to develop the ability to identify, assess, and solve on-the-job museum problems; and

– to assess and re-assess individual professional goals and development.

Placement of Interns
The MSP Director, Intern Coordinator, or Advisor may assist in the placement of students in internships but the majority of students arrange their own internships. In any case, it is the student’s responsibility to furnish the prospective museum sponsor/supervisor with this information sheet and to negotiate the specific content of the internship experience with that person.

Notices of some available internships are posted on the MSP web site but internships can take place at any appropriate museum in the world as long as the student and sponsor can meet the requirements of the internship. Both the Michigan State University Museum and the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum regularly host internships.

Internship Course Numbers and Credits

Currently there are three options. Only MUSM 493 has variable credits but since the MSU Museum Studies program certificate requires 3 credits, it is recommended that MSU Museum Studies students sign up for MUSM 496.

MUSM 493C Museum Internship: variable credit (2 or 3)

A student may earn a maximum of 6 credits in all enrollments for this course. Restrictions: Not open to freshmen or sophomores. Approval of college.

Section 001: Internships at the Michigan State University Museum. For more information about possible internships, see http://museum.msu.edu/?q=intern [Contact Mary Worrall (worrall@msu.edu) for applications and acceptance into MSU Museum internships]

Section 002: Internships at the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University that are NOT part of the Broad docent program [Contact Aimee Shapiro (ashapiro@msu.edu) to arrange internships and enroll in this section]


MUSM 496 Museum Studies Internship: 3 credits

A student may earn a maximum of 6 credits in all enrollments for this course. Prerequisite: MUSM 485; Recommended Background: MUSM 498 and MUSM 494. Restrictions: Approval of college. This is an interdepartmental course with HA. If you wish to have your enrollment in this course appear on your record as HA 496, enroll in this section and then contact the HA department when this class is completed.

Section 001: Internships at museums or cultural heritage organizations that are NOT the MSU Museum or the MSU Broad Museum

Section 002: Internships at the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University that ARE part of the Broad Art Museum’s Docent Training Program Museum Internship. This internship is a full- year commitment in collaboration with the MSU Museum Studies Program. In the fall students complete weekly classes focused on the history, processes, and current state of contemporary art. During the spring semester, students give tours to visitors. In addition to exploring this timeline and focusing on the Broad Art Museum, students will learn the most current best practices for interpretation and touring techniques in contemporary art museums, how to utilize the museum as a learning laboratory, and how to engage the public in a museum setting. Enroll for fall semester; grades will be assigned at the end of spring semester. Priority for enrollment in this section is given to juniors and seniors registering before the start of the fall semester. [Contact Aimee Shapiro (ashapiro@msu.edu) to sign up for the Broad docent program and enroll in this section]

Section 003: Internships at the Michigan State University Museum. For more information about the internships, see http://museum.msu.edu/?q=intern [Contact Mary Worrall (worrall@msu.edu) for applications and acceptance into MSU Museum internships]

MUSM 893 Museum Internship: 3 credits [for graduate students]

A student may earn a maximum of 6 credits in all enrollments for this course.

How to Enroll in Internship

Internships undertaken to satisfy the requirements for the Museum Studies specialization or certification must follow an enrollment procedure as follows prior to beginning the internship.

1. Student meets with a prospective internship supervisor, and discusses and agrees on the nature and objectives of the work that will be done in the internship.

2. Student and the supervisor of his/her internship complete and sign the MSU MSP internship contract (downloadable at http://museumstudies.msu.edu/resources.php).

3. Student sends (via email with scanned attachment or by fax) the completed and signed form to MSU MSP Internship Coordinator (macdowel@msu.edu; FAX: 517-432-2856).

4. The MSP Internship Coordinator signs and forwards contract to the MSP advisor who enrolls the student in the course.

Requirements for Students

Students must work at least 6 hours a week (for a two-credit internship) or 9 hours a week (for a three-credit internship) spread over a fifteen-week period. In addition to fulfilling the obligations of the signed MSP Internship Contract, students who are pursuing the Museum Studies specialization must also complete the following for each internship intended to count towards the MSU MSP specialization:

* Read at least one journal article, approved by your intern supervisor, that relates to the nature or the content of the work you are doing for the internship. Write a typed, double-spaced two-page review of it. The first page should be descriptive, the second page analytical. Graduate students should do two article reviews.

* Maintain a journal of internship activities including descriptions of tasks; observations of issues, procedures, challenges, or opportunities encountered. The journal should also include your journal review(s).

* Prepare a 2-3 page double-spaced critical summation about your internship experience and include what impact it has had on your understanding of museum practice as well as on your own career trajectory.

* Prepare a “portfolio”. There are no set guidelines for portfolio content since each internship situation is so different but, essentially, it should include documentation of those experiences. Documentation could be photos of you doing the work, photos or copies of any outputs (catalog descriptions, exhibitions, mount building, rehousing collections, educational programs, etc.) in which you have been involved. If you are at a loss what to put in portfolio, consult with your supervisor. The format of the portfolio can also vary. It can be as a Powerpoint, a series of blogs, an organized notebook or folder of materials, etc. Think of the portfolio as something (or at least a draft of something) you might show a prospective employer or graduate admission committee.

Information for the Sponsoring Institution/Supervisor

MSU’s Museum Studies Program (MSP) requires that sponsoring institutions treat interns as they would any trained and qualified professional staff member. Interns should observe the same work rules as other staff members, attend staff meetings as appropriate to a beginning professional, carry out work assignments productively and efficiently, and accept supervision. The intern/supervisor relationship should be seen as similar to a student/teacher relationship. MSU’s MSP expects sponsoring institutions to provide ample opportunities for students to exercise independent professional judgment and decision-making responsibilities. Students should not be excused from performing the less glamorous tasks associated with museum work, but they should be challenged by important and useful projects. The intern must assume professional-level responsibilities and become involved in a major project during the internship period.

In order to accomplish these objectives, the student needs to experience day-to-day museum operations under the direct supervision of a museum professional.

At the end of the internship period, the intern’s supervisor will be asked to complete a brief evaluation form assessing the intern’s performance.

At the end of the internship period, the intern’s supervisor will be asked to complete a brief evaluation form assessing the intern’s performance.

Evaluation and Grading
To the Interns: Portfolios, journals, and summary statements must be turned into supervisors no later than a week before the end of the semester.

To the Intern Supervisors: At least two weeks before the end of the semester, the Intern Coordinator will send out an Intern Evaluation Form and the date that semester by which it must be completed and sent back.

Upon receipt of the MSP Internship Evaluation Form, the MSP Internship Coordinator will submit a Pass/No Pass grade to the MSU Registrar’s Office.

Internship Information Sheet, Contract Form, and Evaluation Forms

Information for Internship Sponsoring Institution/Supervisor

General Information
MSU’s Museum Studies Program (MSP) requires that sponsoring institutions treat interns as they would any trained and qualified professional staff member. Interns should observe the same work rules as other staff members, attend staff meetings as appropriate to a beginning professional, carry out work assignments productively and efficiently, and accept supervision. The intern/supervisor relationship should be seen as similar to a student/teacher relationship. MSU’s MSP expects sponsoring institutions to provide ample opportunities for students to exercise independent professional judgment and decision-making responsibilities. Students should not be excused from performing the less glamorous tasks associated with museum work, but they should be challenged by important and useful projects. The intern must assume professional-level responsibilities and become involved in a major project during the internship period.

In order to accomplish these objectives, the student needs to experience day-to-day museum operations under the direct supervision of a museum professional. At the end of the internship period, the intern’s supervisor will be asked to complete a brief evaluation form assessing the intern’s performance.

Requirements for Students
Students must work at least 6 hours a week (for a two-credit internship) or 9 hours a week (for a three-credit internship) spread over a fifteen-week period. In addition to fulfilling the obligations of the signed MSP Internship Contract, students who are pursuing the Museum Studies specialization must also complete the following for each internship intended to count towards the MSU MSP specialization:

* Read at least one journal article, approved by the intern supervisor, that relates to the nature or the content of the work done for the internship and write a typed, double-spaced two page review of it. The first page should be descriptive, the second page analytical. Graduate students should do two article reviews.

* Maintain a journal of internship activities including descriptions of tasks; observations of issues, procedures, challenges, or opportunities encountered. The journal should also include the journal review(s).

* Prepare a 2-3 page double-spaced critical summation about your internship experience and include what impact it has had on the intern’s understanding of museum practice as well as on your own career trajectory.

* Prepare a “portfolio”. There are no set guidelines for portfolio content since each internship situation is so different but, essentially, it should include documentation of those experiences. Documentation could be photos of the intern doing the work, photos or copies of any outputs (catalog descriptions, exhibitions, mount building, rehousing collections, educational programs, etc.) in which the intern has been involved. If the intern is at a loss what to put in portfolio, they will consult with their supervisor. The format of the portfolio can also vary. It can be as a Powerpoint, an organized notebook or folder of materials, etc. The portfolio should be thought of as something (or at least a draft of something) the intern might show a prospective employer or graduate admission committee.

Evaluation and Grading
Students must turn portfolios, journals, and summary statements into supervisors no later than a week before the end of the semester. At least two weeks before the end of the semester, the Intern Coordinator will send out an Intern Evaluation Form and the date that semester by which it must be completed and sent back. Upon receipt of the MSP Internship Evaluation Form, the MSP Internship Coordinator will submit a Pass/No Pass grade to the MSU Registrar’s Office.

Internship Information Sheet, Contract Form, and Evaluation Form

MSUMSP Internship Contract Form (doc) (pdf)
MSUMSP Internship Evaluation Form (doc) (pdf)