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Benjamin Lawless Internship

Sophia Gerrard and Benjamin Lawless Committee Member, Barbara Fahs Charles

2021 Timeline

January 8: Application opens

February 12: Deadline for applications

April 9: Selection made and all applicants informed

August 27: Deadline for 5-week summer internship to be completed 


Benjamin Lawless began his career at the Smithsonian in 1953 and became deeply involved in the development of a new generation of exhibitions. During his time at the Smithsonian and right up until he passed away in 2013, Ben was a pioneer of innovative museum exhibitions and techniques that are now commonplace, including theatrical designs and lighting, the use of diverse audio-visual technologies, and the introduction of humor into exhibition spaces.

Benjamin also served as a creative mentor for an entire generation of young curators, exhibition designers, and museum administrators.

This internship keeps Ben’s innovative spirit alive and fosters a new generation of creative museum professionals.

How It Works

The Benjamin Lawless Internship provides interns with the opportunity to learn about audience engagement, exhibition design, and telling stories through researching museum objects as well as the people who created and used those objects.

Over the course of five consecutive weeks in the summer, a Benjamin Lawless Intern will develop creativity and imagination by finding new ways to tell stories inspired by the Smithsonian’s collections and research. An Intern engages in this guided learning experience 40 hours a week Monday-Friday. Upon the conclusion of the internship, the intern will provide an expression of their experience in any form they choose.

Lawless interns receive a stipend of $650/week over 5 consecutive weeks for a total of $3,250.


High school students who have completed their junior year and who will start their senior year of high school in the fall are eligible to apply.

How to Apply

To apply, create an account on the Smithsonian Online Academic Appointment System (SOLAA). Then start an application for this internship program (you will find the Benjamin Lawless Internship application listed under the Office of Fellowships. Follow the steps below shown and be sure to upload all the requested documents.

As part of this application, you will be asked to submit the following:

  • Your resume
  • Two letters of recommendation (from individuals who are not related to you)
  • School transcript (unofficial is OK) Note: the selection committee for this internship is not looking for high GPAs. They want to see what subjects applicants excel in to better select the best internship placement site/experience for the selected candidate.
  • Essay: Prepare a two-to-four page essay addressing the following points: 1) Your past and present academic history and other experiences which you feel have prepared you for an internship 2) What you hope to accomplish through an internship, and how it would relate to your academic and career goals 3) What about the Smithsonian in particular interests you and leads you to apply for an internship.


  • A link to a video (no more than 3 minutes) demonstrating your creativity, curiosity and imagination


  • A link to a web site you’ve created demonstrating your creativity, curiosity and imagination

Previous Benjamin Lawless Interns


Sofia Gerrard

Sofia Gerrard painting a custom made museum mount

Sofia spent her Benjamin Lawless Internship at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art (NMAfA) as a Mount Finishing Intern learning about exhibition mount finishing, artifact mounting, mount materials and fabrication techniques. The experience broadened her concept of artistic storytelling by revealing how artistic objects are displayed for maximum impact.



Julia Du

Julia Du with her APAC mentor, Lawrence Davis

Julia spent her Benjamin Lawless Internship in the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center (APAC). APAC’s mission of enriching the appreciation of America’s Asian Pacific heritage and empowering Asian Pacific American communities meshed exceptionally well with her goals to learn more about Chinese exclusion in the late nineteenth century and to better understand how to bring the story of Chinese Americans to a greater audience. After completing her Benjamin Lawless Internship Julia attended the University of Chicago.