Fort Worth, TX (August 31, 2021) — Smithsonian Affiliations, in partnership with Emerson Collective and the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, has announced an innovative and collaborative pilot initiative that increases access to internship opportunities for college-level students. Designed to employ and activate youth around the country with an opportunity to connect with communities through digital learning, this pilot was engineered to reinvent Smithsonian Affiliations’ approach to summer internships.
The Smithsonian Affiliate Digital Learning and Engagement Internship, structured as an entirely virtual experience, introduced 75 rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors in college to the impact of museum work and empowered students to address complex global challenges. Purposefully designed as a collaborative virtual opportunity, the internship provided access to high-quality, paid learning experiences for a diverse group of college students regardless of their physical location.
Over the course of the summer, three interns worked with staff at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History to design innovative, educational modules or collections to be published for the museum’s audience. Their exhibits explore diverse topics including the history of vaccinations, global warming, and the history of the protest movement in Texas.
“I was most drawn by the comprehensive learning aspect of the Internship,” said Melanie Gong, a rising Sophomore at Columbia University who participated in the program. Her exhibit, Climate Catastrophe, explores the effects of global warming and its disastrous impacts on the environment. “I hope people will be able to engage with the exhibit and walk away with a better understanding of Global Warming and the importance of our collective effort in combating the ‘Climate Catastrophe.’”
Rowan Hough, a rising senior at the University of Washington, also participated in the program. Her exhibit uses artifacts, images, and videos to showcase the power of protest in Texas History. “My favorite part has been learning how to curate a collection and creating the content for the exhibit,” said Rowan. “It taught me how to use new methods to communicate and how to tailor the collection to different groups.”
Nicholas Lavy, a rising senior at the University of Akron in Ohio, described how his coursework influenced his exhibit on the history of vaccines. “In both my economics and psychology courses, the impact of COVID and its corresponding vaccines has been a heavy focus over the past year and a half,” said Nicholas, who is pursuing a dual degree in economics and psychology. “I wanted to focus on how history can guide the present in regard to the economic and social-psychological impacts of pandemics and vaccinations.”
Melanie, Rowan, and Nicholas will each have the opportunity to visit the Museum to see their exhibits on display in August and September. These digital exhibits will be added to the library of topics available for presentation to the public and for field trip visits.
Throughout the internship, the Smithsonian was the connector between the interns, the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, and Emerson Collective, providing access to experts, conversations with Smithsonian leadership, and enrichment opportunities that engaged the students with each other and their Affiliate organization. Emerson Collective provided programming opportunities that helped facilitate conversations between interns and leaders in areas such as education, immigration, and racial justice.
The Fort Worth Museum of Science and History is proud to partner with community sponsors to provide airfare and accommodations for the Smithsonian interns. Accommodations for the interns are provided by Aloft Fort Worth Downtown and airfare is provided by American Airlines.