International Internship Program - RCMC


Talent Development Program

The Research Center for Material Culture offers an Inter/national Internship Program, which offers young academics and museum professionals the opportunity to pursue further research and professional training within our museums. Applying for an internship or research associate position at the Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen, which comprises the Tropenmuseum (Amsterdam), the Afrika Museum (Berg en Dal), the Museum Volkenkunde (Leiden), and the Wereldmuseum (Rotterdam). Each museum or department recruits differently, but if you are applying to do an internship with the Curatorial, Collections, or RCMC departments, please read the below carefully. 


Our Talent Development Program offers young academics, curators and practiced based researchers the opportunity to work with/under the supervision of our team of researchers, to conduct research on the NMVW’s collections, or to pursue professional training within our museums on issues related to curatorship, collections care, registration and documentation.

Interns work closely with our research and collections team and have access to our internationally renowned collections of almost one million objects and photos. They will participate in the ongoing projects of our research staff, which vary from collections documentation research and research for future exhibitions, to international collaborative research projects on different themes.

Students currently registered in a relevant MA or advanced bachelors progamme can apply for an internship, and must work together with one of our staff. Due to the high volume of internship requests from students we cannot but be selective.

Before applying, please familiarize yourself with our work. 

Expectations and Profile

All interns are required to support both the research and programming activities of the RCMC staff and contribute to organizing RCMC events.

Interns should:

  • be registered as a MA student or PhD researcher throughout the internship period (in exceptional circumstances we accept advanced Bachelors students)
  • be able to work independently and use on-line resources to develop their project.
  • have an excellent command of Dutch and/or English, both orally and in written form
  • be enthusiastic and able to take initiative. Work politely and be open to suggestions as how to welcome and be caring to guests and employees from around the world.
  • be a team player. Respect the professions and the professional lives of museum employees and their schedules and can plan their work and respond to the institutional codes and practices of behavior accordingly. 
  • have an affinity for museums, art and culture
  • For students of anthropology, or for those who wish to do ethnography of or within the museum, we will more readily accept projects with a research agenda that lasts at least six months and is conform to the ethical criteria of ethnographic research, following for example standard Institutional Review Board (IRB) practices.  
    • Much of the work we do asks that we be as protective as possible to the communities with whom we work and of our own employees. While we absolutely accept critique, the way ethnographic work takes place in our institution must honor the complexities of an institutional context and especially of ours.
    • Our professional staff have full work agendas, and any interviews or research projects that directly concerns staff, needs to be agreed and negotiated with the permission of the internship coordinator at the NMVW so that it can be properly planned and does not impose on individuals or disrupt business continuity. Once you have applied and obtained approval to do an internship at NMVW, you will agree on your work schedule with the internship coordinator before you can proceed with interviews.
  • For internships associated with the Curatorial and/or Research Center for Material Culture, we are interested in fostering innovative perspectives on the ethnographic museum and its collections and their history.  We welcome students from interdisciplinary backgrounds in the humanities or social sciences as well as students from other backgrounds such as architecture, design, psychology and biological or material sciences. We are also interested in welcoming students who come from a more area studies interest, and those who have personal lived experience or sustained work alongside a given community that self-identifies as connected to a given geographic area.
  • For internships associated with Preservation, we focus on developing community-based conservation policies and preparing groups of objects for storage moving.


Note: We do not offer funding for interns.

Please note the following

  • We are aware that in recent years, excitingly, many programs have been teaching literature about decolonizing the museum, an ethical inquiry that we are committed to that requires self-reflection and critique and that is a long-term commitment. We expect students who do internships with us to be as critical as they are respectful: listening, being themselves open to critique, and also critiquing us by fully engaging in rigorous, cutting-edge practices in what it means to be an academic and a professional working in a museum.
  • Before you contact us, we invite you to consult with standard practices of the Internal Review Board process. The Lafayette College has a concise summary of what IRB is. Many scholarly publications require IRB approval for publication of research results based on human subject research. What we are interested in that in your contact with us when you seek research, we ask that you write emails to request an interview or consult models of informed consent that correspond to standard practice. You can find examples on the IRB website of Utrecht Universiteit, whose acronym is FETCH.

EU or non-EU

If you are applying from the EU, there is no extra legal paperwork. If you are applying from outside of the EU and you are enrolled in a university program in Europe, you may also apply, as you have a student visa.

If you are interested in working with us as a non-EU national, who will not be a student, we invite you to apply to the Junior Fellowship. That said, for the 2021-22, we are not running a Junior Fellowship competition as we must accommodate two years of awarded Junior Fellows, who have not been able to carry out their research due to ‘backlog’ from Covit measures. We ask students not to send in requests for independent projects, but rather to look at the opportunities below.

Application Dates

There are several application dates.

For an internship in the months between, September and December 2021, you must apply by August 30, 2021. There will be an official application process, but until that is available, please email for your interest.

For an internship in the months between, January and June 2022 you must apply by December 1, 2021. There will be an official application process, but until that is available, please email for your interest.

Research on collections and topics for forthcoming exhibitions:

For 2021-2022, we will be taking 3-8 students. We are seeking interns with subject expertise or clear personal interest in the following areas:

  • Plastics (material science, environmental science in particular)
  • Hip Hop
  • African Kingdoms
  • China
  • Martial Arts
  • Hospitality and support to curators working with fellows and artists-in-residence
  • Support to departments and specific collection work

Before applying, please familiarize yourself with our work.