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Student Exhibition Internship

Application Deadline Has Passed

The Penn Museum offers paid internships to three undergraduate students at Penn to work with Museum staff and create a small exhibition. 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.

Key Marco

Excavation and Preservation

Watercolor of a wooden human mask with black triangular markings along the outer edge..
Watercolor of newly excavated mask
Human wooden mask originally painted with turtle face designs.
Contemporary photograph of mask, 40716
“The discoveries I am now daily making are unparalleled in the annals of American archaeology!”
Frank Cushing 1896

The Penn Museum holds an exceptional collection of objects from Key Marco—rarely preserved wooden masks, figureheads, bowls, and various other tools—as well as incredible archival materials related to their excavation. Collected during an 1896 expedition by Frank Cushing, these objects provide clues to understanding both the ceremonies and daily lifeways of the ancestors of the Calusa, a powerful Native society that occupied southwest Florida. A layer of wet, peaty marl preserved the artifacts in “like new” condition for centuries, causing Cushing to exclaim in an 1896 letter, “the discoveries I am now daily making are unparalleled in the annals of American archaeology!” This remains true today and the priceless artifacts are still the focus of study nearly 125 years after they were recovered. Working collaboratively with Penn Museum staff and the curator at the Marco Island Historical Society, it will be possible to explore many different stories through the Key Marco collection—from the lifeways of precontact Native people, to the science of archaeological preservation, to the history of archaeology, to the ongoing importance of the collection to local communities.

How to apply

Submit the following to Sarah Linn (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) by April 22, 2022

  • A cover letter (1-2 pages) 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 and in good academic standing are welcome to apply.


University of Pennsylvania undergraduates, preferably with some experience in archaeology, history, anthropology, art history, or other fields that explore issues related to heritage. 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.

Financial Support

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


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

Timeline and Program Description

The Student Exhibition Internship Program takes place over the course of the academic year and the exhibition opens in March of 2023.

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.

Previous Student Exhibitions

Student Exhibition Blog Posts


Academic Engagement Department