NMWA Internships: Learning What Makes a Museum Tick

In the fall of my senior year at Georgetown University, I set my sights on spending my spring semester as an intern at one of Washington, DC’s many renowned museums. The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the Air and Space Museum, and the National Gallery of Art all came to mind, but in the end I decided on the National Museum of Women in the Arts, a young museum with an important mission to celebrate the outstanding achievements of women artists from the 15th century to today. 

I was thrilled to announce to my friends that my application for an internship in the museum’s Development department had been accepted. They were happy for me, but a little confused. Working in the Curatorial department, that made sense, and even the Education department was familiar, but what on earth was Development? My answer—everything and more! Development is what makes a museum tick—cultivation of donors, writing grants, managing membership, and organizing fundraising events. My choice of NMWA for my internship experience paid-off since I was able to actively participate in each aspect of this unique and vital department which keeps a museum, or any non-profit, open.

As the NMWA Development Intern, I helped plan the successful New York Avenue Sculpture Project Dedication Ceremony.

I was especially lucky to join the NMWA team in the spring of 2010 as the museum was making plans to inaugurate its New York Avenue Sculpture Project, the outdoor sculpture island in the heart of downtown Washington, D.C. I became deeply involved in the soliciting of corporate donations as well as planning an opening celebration featuring Second Lady Dr. Jill Biden as the honored speaker and a gala event for 400 people! I am proud to say that I was part of the effort to raise more than $1.2 million to bring women artists to the forefront of the nation’s art scene. 

At NMWA there is never a dull moment and every intern is considered a valued member of the team. It was a treat to be able to work with such motivated and passionate people. And while each department of the museum is integral to the museum’s functioning, I would strongly recommend giving Development a try if you are organized, motivated, love to be busy, and want to understand what really goes on behind the scenes of a major museum. 

Internship applications for the fall semester are due June 15. For more information about NMWA’s internship program, visit http://www.nmwa.org/about/volunteer.asp

-Kristin Hussey is the Development Department Summer Intern.