The Institute of Conservation organises paid internships with funding from the HLF: Jessica Burges learns conservation techniques in a Bristol studio


Before gaining paid employment in the museum sector, many people undertake voluntary work and internships.

Internships are a useful way of gaining work based skills in museums. However they differ in purpose, scale and often in remuneration to volunteering and work experience.

The MA takes a positive view of internships and their value to the sector and to people wanting to gain relevant experience to help get them into employment.

It is very important that internships are not exploitative. Each internship should provide the organisation with a short term resource to deliver meaningful work which is of value to the organisation and at the same time provide the intern with a satisfying learning experience.

The MA believes that all internships should:

  • Pay reasonable work-related expenses and give interns reasonable access to staff benefits (such as free tickets to exhibitions or events).
  • Be planned and structured with a clear brief, specific job content and a named line manager or supervisor.
  • Give a clear outline of what is being offered to interns, and what is expected of the intern.
  • Offer an agreed training and development plan with the intern, setting out what learning opportunities will be offered.
  • Ensure that potential interns are told whether there is a realistic chance of the internship leading on to employment.
  • Be of a minimum of eight weeks and a maximum 12 months (if paid) and a maximum of three months (if unpaid).

The Museums Association advertises internships for free.

Organisations advertising internships should refer to our guidelines.

Links and downloads:

The Museums Association guidelines on internships (pdf)

All work and no pay (Museums Journal news analysis)

ACE guidelines on internships (pdf)

NCVO guidelines on internships (pdf)