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Internships in the Office of the Curator

Curatorial Internships

About the Office of the CuratorThe Curator's Office was created by Chief Justice Warren E. Burger in 1973 to record and preserve the Court's history. Our mission is to promote a greater public understanding and appreciation of the nation's highest court. To this end, we collect the institution's rich history, share it with a diverse audience through a variety of programs, and preserve it for future generations.

Internships in the Office of the CuratorFor nearly 40 years, interns in the Curator's Office have gained valuable curatorial experience while learning about museum practices and the work of the Supreme Court. Interns gain a substantial working knowledge of the role and functions of the Supreme Court, its history, and the architecture of the building. Each intern is assigned to work with a staff member on curatorial projects, such as cataloging photographs and objects, assisting with the management of visitor programs, caring for historic objects, organizing manuscript collections, and conducting research. In addition to their individual projects, all interns gain valuable public speaking and interpersonal skills by conducting tours and Courtroom Lectures and staffing a Visitor Desk. Some administrative support tasks, such as answering phones and working with our computerized reservation system, are required.

Please note: Applicants should be aware that this is not a legal training internship. As such, it does not involve working with the cases currently before the Court. However, interns will receive training on the Court's operations, and during the period from October to April, may occasionally observe oral arguments.

Terms and HoursInternships are available in the fall, spring, and summer. Applications are accepted from: undergraduate students who have completed at least two semesters of coursework; international students; and college graduates. Internship start and end dates are flexible so as to accommodate students' academic calendars, however interns usually serve for 12 weeks or longer. Preference is given to applicants who can commit to a full-time, 5-day schedule (Monday to Friday). Applicants with part-time availability must commit to at least three full days per week. Working hours are 8:45 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

  • Fall interns typically start in late August or early September
  • Spring interns typically start in January
  • Summer interns typically start in mid-May or early June.

All internships are unpaid. Staff will assist interns by completing necessary paperwork to obtain academic credit, if desired or needed.

Intern Positions & Qualifications Each intern will spend a substantial amount of time working with a staff member on projects in one of the three following areas: collections management and archives, digital assets management, or visitor programs.

All candidates should be highly motivated individuals who share our passion for collecting knowledge and sharing it with the public. Interns work closely with our professional staff, but individual projects require a certain degree of self-motivation. Therefore, applicants must display a high level of maturity and superior judgment.

Collections Management/Archives

Collections Management/Archives Duties: Assist Collections Managers with cataloguing the Court's collection of decorative and graphic art objects. Organize and catalogue collections of papers and ephemera related to Justices. Produce high-quality digital copies of images and conduct research using resources at the Court and Library of Congress.

Required skills: Excellent organizational skills, attention to detail, and computer skills are required. Previous experience with collections and/or knowledge of collections management principles and practice and experience with The Museum System (TMS) software is a plus.

Digital Assets Management

Digital Assets Management Duties: Assist the Court Photographer in our ongoing effort to make the Court's collection of photographs accessible to staff and researchers by helping to build and maintain our databases of digital images. Work includes cataloguing, adding metadata to create and enhance documentation of images, scanning, storage, retrieval, and distribution of digital assets. Intern will develop a working knowledge of the collection in order to assist in responding to requests for use of images from the Court's collection.

Required skills: Excellent organizational skills, data entry skills, and ability to communicate clearly in writing are required. Ability to learn internal software and procedures quickly. Familiarity with databases (TMS & Portfolio) and photo imaging software, public speaking experience, and customer service experience desired.

Visitor Programs Duties: Assist with daily management of visitor programs by responding to visitor inquiries, scheduling tours, and conducting tours and Courtroom lectures. Additional projects may include evaluating public programs, research and development of short presentations and materials for visitors on Court history, architecture, and collection objects.

Required skills: Excellent research and writing skills, public speaking experience, and exceptional interpersonal skills required. Teaching and/or museum education/interpretation experience desired.

Examples of Past Intern Projects:

  • Drafting a visitors' self-guided tour brochure to highlight exhibits and architecture.
  • Organizing the family papers, photographs, and memorabilia of Justice Wiley B. Rutledge.
  • Digitizing 35mm film taken by the Court Photographers and incorporating scans and metadata into various databases.
  • Assisting with exhibitions.
Visitor Desk

Testimonials "This was such an amazing experience, and I really loved every day of it. I enjoyed the diversity of the work, split between photography and Visitor Programs duties, the incredibly friendly, supportive staff in the office, working with my fellow interns, learning about the Court, and just the fantastic atmosphere here."
     - Uinta Cook, Digital Assets Management intern, Fall 2014

"Interning with the Curator's Office was easily the best experience of my college career. I met amazing people, strengthened my public speaking skills, and enjoyed a unique opportunity to work in the most beautiful building in Washington! The Curator's staff treated me like family, and I made memories that I will carry with me for the rest of my life."
     - Blake Eaton, Visitor Programs intern, Spring 2015

"My internship in the Curator's Office at the Supreme Court of the United States will forever stand as an unparalleled experience. With hopes of entering into the museum and curatorial field, this internship provided me with a thorough understanding and hands-on experience working in a museum institution. It allowed me to gain experience in visitor services, collections management, archival research, and exhibit preparation. I don't believe any other internship in the D.C. area offers such a thorough work experience. I do not hesitate to recommend this internship to anyone interested in entering museums studies."
     - Hailey Paige, Collections Management and Archives intern, Spring 2015

"I would recommend this internship to others without hesitation. I am leaving the visitor services team with professional role models, new friends, enhanced skills, and a wider knowledge base of the Supreme Court's history. Any student would benefit from working in such a respectful, organized, and historic environment."
     - Glenna Siegel, Visitor Programs intern, Summer 2015

How to Apply
A complete application includes the following:
  • Rèsumè
  • Cover Letter
    • Explain why you are seeking a curatorial internship and how your previous experience relates to the work of the Curator's Office
    • Specify your preferred project area of Collections Management and Archives, Digital Assets Management, or Visitor Programs
    • Include start and end dates of availability
  • Two Letters of Recommendation
    • Recommendations should be from individuals familiar with your work ethic and abilities, such as professors, employers, or athletic coaches.
    • Recommendations must be submitted online directly from the recommender.

    Interviews will follow for select candidates; incomplete applications will not be considered. Internship offers are subject to successful completion of a security background check

Application Deadlines
  • Summer Session: March 28th
  • Fall Semester: July 15th
  • Spring Semester: October 30th

Applicants: To apply online, please click here.

Recommenders: To submit a recommendation, please click here.


Questions? Contact us

November 26, 2015 | Version 2014.1