Program Description

The Decorative Arts Trust (DAT), a non-profit 501(C)(3) organization headquartered in Media, PA, is introducing an IDEAL Internship Initiative as part of its growing Emerging Scholars Program. IDEAL Internships focus on inclusivity, diversity, equity, access, and leadership. The DAT recognizes the homogeneity of the museum field and will strive to improve access to curatorial careers for students of color as a path toward achieving systemic change.

The DAT will help build a more inclusive future by creating opportunities for students of color through new collaborations that promote a shift in the narratives and voices found in the museum field. The DAT is offering an inaugural group of IDEAL Internship Grants in 2021 and 2022 to create important professional opportunities for under-represented communities, specifically by establishing openings for students of color seeking museum careers.

Available Funding: The DAT will make an initial round of four grants to non-profit institutions in 2021, each for up to $5,000. Partners who implement a successful internship can apply for a second year of funding.

Partners: The DAT seeks partners—including art museums, history museums, and historic sites—with a demonstrated commitment to serving the breadth of their local community, thereby allowing the DAT to contribute to their mission through an IDEAL internship. Potential partners should have an established track record of hosting successful inclusivity internships and the ability to offer internships that are led by or include the mentorship of museums professionals of color.

Audience: In addition to an emphasis on inclusivity, diversity, equity, access, and leadership, these opportunities will preferably focus on disadvantaged high school and undergraduate students. Museums and historic sites with established connections to high schools, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and public institutions of higher education that primarily serve communities of color should utilize those networks to promote an IDEAL internship.

Outcomes: Interns will work toward a defined end goal or capstone project that ensures their academic and professional growth. Whenever possible, the interns’ goals and expectations will be incorporated into the assigned work. The DAT expects partners to provide opportunities for broader professional development, peer-to-peer networking, and public outreach through tours and presentations. The DAT requires partners to evaluate and report on the success of the internships. Through the DAT’s magazine, blog, and social media outlets, the interns and their mentors and host organizations have a platform to share their research and projects.

Mentorship: In the spirit of nourishing the students’ enthusiasm for and interest in museum careers, the DAT will ensure that each institution is sincerely dedicated to educating and advancing future museum scholars of color. Curatorial colleagues with a demonstrated interest in and ability to offer strong mentorship and a comprehensive experience are a must. Although these grants speak to diversity, they must also speak to the education and professional development of the students. Therefore, each internship should be led, in whole or part, by a colleague of color. The chance to have direct and meaningful contact with museum professionals of color creates opportunities for advocacy and relationship building that creates equity and reinforces the impact that the DAT seeks to make on the lives of students of color.

Format: Partner organizations will host IDEAL internships tied to the study and interpretation of the decorative arts. The format and duration is to be determined by the prospective host institutions (e.g. full-time summer internship, part-time semester-long internship, or a part-time academic-year internship). Internships would likely commence in the summer or fall of 2021. By permitting such flexibility, the DAT will allow partners to select the model best suited for their needs and capabilities.

Application process: The Request for Proposals follows. Proposals are due by December 31. Applications will be reviewed by a committee, consisting of the DAT’s Executive Director, a member of the Education Committee of the Board of Governors, and three outside participants, who are colleagues of color with a proven track record of contributions toward improvements in equality and equity in the museum and academic fields. The committee will make an initial round of selections by January 21, 2021.


Request for Proposals

The Decorative Arts Trust (DAT) is offering grants to museums and historic sites in support of internships that improve and promote inclusivity, diversity, equity, access, and leadership (IDEAL) in the museum field by creating opportunities for underrepresented communities. The DAT seeks to fund summer and academic-year internships beginning in the summer and fall of 2021, ideally for disadvantaged high school and undergraduate students. Internships should focus on the decorative arts and object-based research, exhibitions, installations, and educational programs. The DAT’s IDEAL Internship Initiative Grants are for up to $5,000 and will be remitted in 2021. There is an opportunity for a second year of funding if the grantee institution can demonstrate sufficient impact.

To apply for an IDEAL Internship Initiative Grant, please submit a proposal by December 31, 2020 to Requests for additional information can also be submitted to the above address. Proposals should address the following questions and not exceed four pages.

  1. Provide the names and titles of lead employees participating in the internship or providing mentorship. How diverse is your institution’s professional and management staff currently? Does your institution have a diversity officer on staff?
  2. How will the internship be marketed? Is the internship geared toward an intended audience (educational level, academic program, school affiliation, etc.)?
  3. What is the timing and duration of the internship? How many hours will be devoted to the internship? How are the grant funds to be allocated (salary, transportation, equipment, housing, etc.)?
  4. Describe in detail the proposed object-based research, exhibition, installation, or education program tied to the internship and its capstone project. What additional outcomes are expected of the internship experience (professional development, networking, public outreach, etc.)? How will the institution evaluate the impact of the internship?
  5. What is the institution’s current investment in inclusivity and equity internships? How does your proposal for an IDEAL internship differ from or improve upon other initiatives at your institution?
  6. How will this internship foster a conversation of equity and inclusivity within your organization?
  7. What interests you most about this internship opportunity, and how will it transform your institution?
  8. Is there any additional pertinent information you wish to add?