Current placement opportunities

The following OOC DTP placements are currently available for you to apply for:

Opportunities with the University of Cambridge Museums

Context

The UCM is an interdisciplinary consortium of the eight University Museums and the Cambridge University Botanic Garden. The vision of the UCM is to facilitate inspiring and innovative encounters between diverse audiences and the varied collections, informed by leading-edge research and practice. The UCM represents England’s highest concentration of internationally significant collections outside London, with all eight museums Accredited and five Designated. 

Internship Opportunities

We are looking for interns to work with us, as detailed in the opportunity below. We’re particularly interested in working students who are interested in applying their research skills to understanding collections and/or their impact as detailed below.  
The interns will be hosted and supervised by the host museum, with an induction and ongoing training provided.

Timings of internship

3 months full time, 6 months part time
Timings as indicated under each opportunity

Selection process

Please complete expressions of interest by sending a CV and a short letter detailing your interest to training@oocdtp.ac.uk, by Friday 10 December 2021. Please include a short summary of your PhD research within your CV. In your letter, please detail why you are interested in working with the collections and your availability to undertake a placement.

If you are interested in more than one opportunity, please list in order of preference, and whether you’d like to be considered for more than one. Applicants with research interests that align with the opportunities will be invited for a conversation with the museums.

Expand All

Timing: March to May 2022
Mentor: Sarah-Jane Harknett, Evaluation Coordinator

This internship will be undertaking evaluation and interpretative research, investigating the audience development for one of our current projects. The intern will work alongside the UCM Evaluation Co-ordinator, selecting and implementing relevant research methods for the project audience. They will gain practical experience in audience research methods and data analysis.

With appropriate support, the intern will:

  • Identify the audiences to approach to collect relevant data
  • Select appropriate evaluation methods (for example, interviews, focus groups, questionnaires, visitor tracking or accompanied visits)
  • Carry out data collection in an appropriate and ethical manner
  • Analyse and interpret the data

There are a number of potential projects that the internship could work on. One of these is the public programming currently being developed around a cabinet of ‘curiosities and other oddities’ held in Cambridge University Library. This was donated in 1727 by George Lewis, former Chaplain to the East India Company in Madras (now Chennai). Lewis was commissioned to collect artefacts and specimens from the natural world, as well as manuscripts. We are hoping to co-develop and share a new understanding of the Lewis cabinet collection, using heritage science and community engagement and through frameworks of legacies of empire, colonialism, race, class and gender. To do this we are currently developing a programme of meaningful two-way dialogue with local communities and the University’s Indian student population. We will also generate digital content to showcase our new understanding of the cabinet and its contents to global audiences and allow remote engagement with our ongoing research efforts. Evaluating one or more of these public outputs could be undertaken by the intern.
 

University of Cambridge Museums legacies of empire and enslavement - placement opportunities

Context

The University of Cambridge’s museums and collections (UCM) are committed to an ongoing investigation into the complex histories of our collections, opening them to interrogation from a range of perspectives, and examining the impact of colonialism, legacies of enslavement, racial inequality, and further challenging topics.
This will provide an opportunity for dialogue and consultation with our diverse partners and audiences and for examining our existing collections and programming practice. Our ambition is that, through a rigorous and transparent investigation into our histories, we will make our collections inclusive and relevant for the future.
2022/23 will mark a major public milestone in the project, as the UCM delivers a year of programming exploring the legacies of empire and enslavement in our collections. 

Internship opportunities

We are looking for interns to work with us examining the UCM collections in relation to colonialism and empire, as detailed in the opportunities below. These projects are suitable for students with an interest in areas including but not limited to: decolonisation; working with material culture; interrogating non-canonical material culture and discourse; focusing on histories of communities of colour; bringing research to bear on challenging items of material culture in order to tell stories about them; developing critical approaches to the collections which link to current concerns about the legacies of imperialism. 
The interns will be hosted and supervised by the individual museum, with further supervision and mentoring provided by the UCM Research & Engagement Fellow. An induction week and ongoing training will be provided.

About the UCM

We are an interdisciplinary consortium of the eight University Museums and the Cambridge University Botanic Garden. The vision of the UCM is to facilitate inspiring and innovative encounters between diverse audiences and the varied collections, informed by leading-edge research and practice. The UCM represents England’s highest concentration of internationally significant collections outside London, with all eight museums Accredited and five Designated. Our collections are drawn from all the continents of the world, and their richness and variety should mean that many varied communities of interest and individuals can find relevance. However, the collections also reflect knowledge historically generated within unequal power structures, and the University’s role as beneficiary in the unequal power relations of empire and colonialism.

Timings of internship

3 months full time. 
Start date: Monday 28 February 2022

Selection process

Please complete expressions of interest by sending a CV and a short letter detailing your interest to training@oocdtp.ac.uk, by Friday 10 December 2021. Please include a short summary of your PhD research within your CV. In your letter, please detail why you are interested in working with the collections, which opportunity you are interested in, and confirmation that you are available during the placement times proposed.

Expand All

Mentor: Jack Ashby, Assistant Director

Until the last few years, natural history museums have lagged behind other disciplines with regard to decolonising collections. Fortunately, there is now a groundswell of understanding that natural history museums are in no way removed from this conversation, and colleagues are quickly developing practices to apply a decolonial lens to the history of natural history museums. Science is part of culture, and therefore scientific priorities have always been shaped by social agendas, including imperialism. Collecting was part of the act of colonisation, and few disciplines – if any – collected on the scale of natural history institutions. At the University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge (UMZC), we aim to develop leadership and practice in the emerging field of decolonising natural history museums, and we see collaborating with researchers from the humanities as crucial to this goal, as we learn together.

In 2021, an AHRC Legacies intern was based in the Museum and tasked with undertaking a broad research project into nineteenth century collectors who contributed significant volumes of material to the Museum. Her work was to undertake a “shallow dive” into the practices of 18 people from a decolonial approach, to uncover initial findings and identify where more detailed research would be best directed. 

This new internship is to do just that – to take a “deep dive” into one of the collectors that our previous intern’s research has identified as being suited to further work.

The principal aims would be to uncover untold narratives of how colonial collectors worked, and who they worked with. It will shed light on the links between natural history and troubling colonial histories. It will seek out those people who contributed so much expertise to the history of science and museums, but who were typically omitted from popular accounts of these histories, such as women and Indigenous collectors.
 

Mentors: Dr Liz Hide, Director and Rob Theodore, Exhibitions & Displays Coordinator

The Sedgwick Museum’s Iguanodon cast is the most highly visible, popular and well-loved specimen in the Museum, but there are uncomfortable aspects of its history that we are keen to further explore.  It’s one of a set of identical casts, based on specimens found at Bernissart in Belgium in 1878, which were distributed to museums across Europe during the 1890s.  Our Iguanodon appears to be unusual in that it was gifted directly by King Leopold II, rather than being part of a specimen exchange by museums, such is the case with similar Iguanodon in Paris, Oxford and London.  This, at the time when the atrocities of the Congo Free State were becoming known, and Leopold’s popularity was being challenged.  

Building on initial research by museum staff, and with potential involvement of dinosaur researchers in Cambridge and beyond, we are keen to draw on historical expertise to help us better understand the global social and political context of this specimen, and what role it might have played a role in cultural diplomacy of the time.    

This work will make an important contribution to the Museum’s aspiration to more widely share the story of this iconic Iguanodon and to help visitors understand the conflicted cultural history of objects more usually seen purely as scientific specimens.  We hope that outputs might include new interpretation and/or a new online exhibition. 

Mentor: Charlotte Connelly, Curator

In 2010 the Polar Museum completed the Heritage Lottery Funded “Collecting Cultures: Inuit Art and Material Culture” project, following which the museum became holder of one of the UK’s largest dedicated collections of Inuit art. Collecting decisions were based around commercial art connoisseurship and a desire to represent a range of artists, but with little focus on the social history context of the artworks. This project will revisit the collection of Inuit art cared for by the Polar Museum and reassess the particular genres of art embodied in the collection as a product of colonisation. Before the colonisation of the Arctic, Inuit people were nomadic. They have and had a rich visual culture, and carefully decorated and designed everyday and sacred objects. However, from the 1950s Inuit people were forcibly settled and had to enter the cash economy to survive. Producing artwork was a means of generating income, and artworks in the genre are typically heavy pieces of carved stone, or lithographs printed on large pieces of etched stone, neither of which would have been convenient for the nomadic lifestyles previously lived by Inuit.

Over the course of the project, we would like an intern to do some combination of: producing a literature and material culture review that contextualises the Polar Museum’s collection of Inuit art in terms of the colonial history of the Arctic; identify artworks in the collection that would help us to sensitively communicate the colonial history of the Arctic with our audiences; consider and recommend some updates to the display case; make recommendations for a possible project to collect or commission Arctic activist art; design training resources for Polar Museum staff and volunteers to help us understand our collection of Inuit art better.