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Katzenberger Internship Projects

Katzenberger Internship Projects 2014


Project 1:     Documenting Traditional Artists at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival

Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
Supervisor: James Deutsch, Program Curator

Since its inception in 1967, the Smithsonian Folklife Festival has presented roughly 180 different programs that have helped promote the understanding and continuity of diverse, contemporary grassroots cultures in the United States and around the world. Most of these programs have featured traditional artists working in a variety of media, including ceramics, glass, leather, metal, paper, plants, stone, textiles, wood, and more. Documentation of these artists exists in the form of photographs, audiovisual recordings, and some written material, but there is no comprehensive history of the artists and the work they have produced at forty-seven different Folklife Festivals.

The Katzenberger Intern’s project at the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage will be to:

1) conduct research on the artists who have appeared (or are appearing) at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival and (based on the Intern’s own particular interests) select at least one artist (or group of artists) for more detailed research and study;

2) identify, select, and digitize documentary materials (photographs, audio recordings, videos, etc.) of this particular artist (or group of artists) and their work at the Folklife Festival;

3) write short biographical sketches of the artist(s) and captions for the photographs selected; and

4) prepare these materials for publication on the Folklife Festival’s Web site. For recent examples, see

In the process, the Katzenberger Intern will enhance her or his research skills, not only with archival materials but also through interviews with members of the Festival’s curatorial staff, both past and present. The Intern will also learn more about Web site production and the art of writing museum-quality labels and captions. Moreover, the Intern will be exposed to some of the finest traditional artists from around the globe: i.e., those who have been selected by curators to participate in the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, the world’s largest festival of its type. The Intern will also have an opportunity to meet (and perhaps document) many of the artists who will be participating in the 2014 Folklife Festival (June 25–June 29 and July 2–6), especially those from the China program. The Intern working on this project should be well‐organized, detail‐oriented, and generally familiar with digital media. Candidates should be able to work outdoors during the summer.


Project 2:     The Will to Adorn: African American Identity and the Aesthetics of Dress

Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
Supervisor: Diana Baird N’Diaye, Principal Investigator/Curator

“The Will to Adorn”: African American Dress and the Aesthetics of Identity is a multi-year collaborative folk cultural research and public presentation initiative of the Smithsonian Institution’s Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage on the diversity of African American identities as communicated through the cultural aesthetics and the arts of the body, dress and adornment.  The project, now in its third year, works with academic scholars, community based professionals, lay researchers and cultural practitioners in target cities to identify, document and present the wearable art traditions of African Americans from diverse regional, ethnic, occupational, faith and ideology based communities throughout the United States.

The components of this project include:

  • Ongoing collaborative “reciprocal” research (comprised of ethnographic fieldwork, oral history interviews, video and photographic documentation) by seasoned academically trained scholars, student and community cultural researchers in nine sites across the country.
  • A robust digital and online presence incorporating a proprietary social media based protocol for multi-sited collaborative research, that is being pioneered through this project; a public website; and Facebook page.
  • A Youth Access Program that trains middle and high school aged students and their educators in cultural documentation and public presentation along with critical thinking skills and 21 century technological literacy.  Projects  underway in 2013 are showcased in an on-line conference taking place on December 11, 2013 More information about the conference is available at:  This project is supported by the Smithsonian’s Office of the Assistant Secretary for Education and Access  through 2014.
  • Public presentations and exchanges including the recent Folklife Festival Program  (sponsored in part by the National Museum of African American History and Culture), and events  held in partnership with the National Museum of African Art, the Anacostia Community Museum., Parsons the New School for Design,  and other cultural and educational institutions.
  • The Will to Adorn App for IOS devices that is designed to collect personal stories about dress and identity.
  • The Will to Adorn Local Exhibition project will create a framework and templates for museums and other cultural institutions that are interested in curating their own projects on dress and identity.

Past and present Will to Adorn interns have majors in the fields of art history, anthropology, education, folklore, design,  fine arts, American Studies, African American studies and museology. They have gained experience through substantive assignments. This internship would be a great fit for those interested in African American/Diaspora history with a focus on fashion as art, and/or history of craft and/ or, design education. Candidates should be comfortable and skilled in, research, writing and social media, well‐organized, and detail‐oriented.

In 2014 the Katzenberger Intern’s duties would include:

1)      Background research and fact checking for a manuscript on African American dress aesthetics and identity.

2)      Creating an up to date annotated bibliography on African American diversity and community style and craft related to style.

3)      Follow up research with African American artisans of the dress arts.

4)      Writing several blog entries for the project along topics of interest to the intern, featuring a particular artist or community of style.

5)      Lesson plans on design thinking using the African American arts of dress.


Project 3:     Garden History Research and Public Outreach

Archives of American Gardens
Supervisor: Cindy Brown, HCME Manager and Education Specialist

Please describe the proposed internship project, include any relevant background information on the function of your department or office:

In addition to enriching the Smithsonian experience through exceptional gardens, horticultural exhibits, collections, and education,” Smithsonian Gardens oversees the Archives of American Gardens which preserves and interprets the nation’s garden heritage. The Archives underscores the importance of gardens in the American experience, especially how people use, transform and enjoy their surroundings.

The Archives of American Gardens offers landscape designers, historians, researchers, and garden enthusiasts access to a collection of approximately eighty thousand photographic images and records documenting historic and contemporary American gardens from the 1870s to the present. While the bulk of the Archives consists of photographic images, it also includes a wide range of written documentation, drawings, plans and business files. Garden files include correspondence, articles, bibliographic citations and garden documentation forms completed by volunteer researchers.

The internship is located in the Horticulture Collections Management & Education Branch of Smithsonian Gardens which manages the Archives of American Gardens and the Garden Furnishings and Horticultural Artifacts Collection, oversees the internship and fellowship programs, and develops educational programming for Smithsonian Gardens,

To contribute to Smithsonian Gardens’ Community of Gardens initiative, the intern’s major project will be to conduct research and write about garden history and design by exploring the role of art in public and community gardens. Community of Gardens is a soon-to-be-launched web and app platform for the public to share stories about gardens and green spaces in their community and explore garden stories others have shared. The intern will conduct research in the Archives of American Gardens as well as seek out a small number of other exceptional gardens for submission to the Community of Gardens database.  In particular, the intern will develop a small online exhibit that explores the role of art in public and community gardens for the new Community of Gardens website. The final product will consist of images and short text labels exploring the historical and cultural significance of art in community gardens, as well as the larger theme of art and gardening. Additionally, the intern will also create photographic and written content for the Smithsonian Gardens blog, Facebook and Twitter accounts.

This article is an example of the type of stories we are hoping the intern will uncover:

The research project will appeal to art history students with an interdisciplinary approach to their studies, especially those students with courses related to landscape/garden studies, history of photography, public history, museum studies, or museum education or have an interest in any of these areas of study.

Successful candidates must demonstrate attention to detail, excellent organizational skills, a comfort with technology and online databases, and an enthusiasm for history and research and/or engaging the general public in the work of archives, museums and public gardens.  In addition, experience with social and digital media will be helpful.  Basic training will be provided on Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and Dreamweaver; any prior knowledge of these programs would be an asset.

This project takes place at the offices of Smithsonian Gardens at Capital Gallery Building, 600 Maryland Avenue S.W., Suite 3300, Washington, D.C. 20024


Project 4:     Intangible Cultural Heritage at the Smithsonian

Smithsonian Folkways at the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
Supervisor: Meredith Holmgren, Web Producer and Education Specialist

About the Project: While the Smithsonian is perhaps best known for its vast collections of material art and artifacts, the institution is also a thriving force for cultural work concerning performance, ritual, music, dance, knowledge, storytelling, and oral tradition—often collectively referred to as intangible cultural heritage (ICH). This ongoing project explores, assesses, and reports on ICH across the institution and aims to propose best practices for engaging ICH in museum environments. Based at the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, the Katzenberger intern would assist the intangible cultural heritage project with research activities, administration, and event organizing. The intern would have an opportunity to network with scholars and practitioners whose work focuses on ICH, while gaining skills in various aspects of project support and administration. Internship activities may include, but is not limited to, compiling information about ICH activities at the Smithsonian, contributing to event organizing for a festival or conference, conducting background research for reports and assessments, maintaining communication with research or event participants, and other duties as assigned.

About the Center: The Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage is dedicated to the collaborative research, presentation, conservation, and continuity of traditional knowledge and artistry with diverse contemporary cultural communities in the United States and around the world. The Center produces the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, exhibitions, documentary films and videos, symposia, publications, and educational materials. The Center conducts ethnographic and cultural heritage policy oriented research, maintains the Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections, and provides educational and research opportunities through fellowships, internships, and training programs. The Center also produces major national cultural events consistent with its mission.


Project 5:     In On the Ground Floor:  Documenting, Cataloging, and Writing about the Foundational Visual Art Collection at NMAAHC

National Museum of African American History and Culture
Supervisor: Dr. Laura Coyle, Collection Manager, Head of Cataloging and Digitization

This Katzenberger Art History Internship offers an exciting, unusual, and historic opportunity for an art history student to participate in the creation of a world-class museum, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, opening in November 2015. The Museum’s mission is to give voice to the centrality of the African American experience and make it possible for all people to understand the depth, complexity, and promise of the American experience.  To support its mission, the Museum is building a foundational collection, which includes visual art by and about African Americans.  However, before this collection of painting, sculpture, drawing, prints, photography, film, and other media can be shared with the public—online, in print, or in the Museum’s new building—it must be well documented and cataloged.  The Museum is also working on new series of books devoted to photography in the collection and a wide range of publications to coincide with the opening of the new Museum.  The Katzenberger Art History Intern will assist with an array of fundamental and crucial documentation, cataloging, writing, and editorial tasks.

Under the direction of the Collection Manager in charge of cataloging and digitization, the Katzenberger Art History Intern will

  • Research artists, photographers, patrons, and subjects represented in the collection
  • Write biographies of artists, photographers, patrons, and sitters
  • Research and standardize provenances of works in the collection
  • Research exhibition histories for works in the collection
  • Research the critical reception of artists and photographers in the collection
  • Research the social and historical context of works in the collection
  • Document and catalog works in the collection
  • Create and enhance digital catalog records for works in collection
  • Assist with digital imaging of the collection
  • Draft contextualizing captions, catalog entries, and other short texts relating to the Visual Art Collection for exhibitions, the web, and print publications


Project 6:     Through the African American Lens: A Preview of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

National Museum of African American History and Culture
Supervisor: Dr. Jacquelyn D. Serwer, Chief Curator

The Katzenberger Intern for this project would work with the chief curator to finalize research and select the images and artifacts for this last temporary NMAAHC exhibition before the Museum’s 2015 opening in the new building. On the one hand, it can provide a chance for visitors to sample some of what they will experience in the semi-permanent exhibitions and, on the other, it should offer the special pleasure of seeing, in depth, important collections that can only be exhibited periodically and selectively. These would include selections from the photography and film collection, works of art on paper, and the Black Fashion Museum Collection. The photographs will be drawn from the Museum’s Center for African American Media Arts (CAAMA), a signature collection of photography, film, and digital media. The chosen items will reflect each of the three content areas of the new Museum: History, Culture, and Community. The result will be a powerful exhibition that provides both an overall introduction to the new museum and a preview of its rich collection.