Buy tickets
      Native American Fellowship Program

      Summer Fellowship

      This program is for Native professionals who are looking to develop the knowledge, skills and networks necessary to become leaders who will shape museums and the nonprofit cultural sector.

      The Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) is looking for rising graduate students and emerging and in-service cultural professionals of Native American, Alaska Native, Kānaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian), First Nations, Métis and Inuit heritage looking to develop the knowledge, skills and networks necessary to become leaders who will shape museums and the nonprofit cultural sector. Fellows develop their leadership potential through 8- to 10-week department positions within the museum. Participants gain practical work experience and work directly with committed mentors from PEM’s senior and midlevel professionals.

      These positions provide Fellows with a range of skills and experiences needed to succeed in the cultural heritage sector. Weekly workshops in key areas such as strategic planning, fundraising, communication and organizational politics, as well as select field trips and substantive engagement in museum projects, expand fellows’ existing skill sets while cultivating their professional development needs.

      Summer Fellowship video

      How to apply

      No summer fellowship positions are currently available at this time. Please check back for future updates on the program.

      To sign up for future notifications regarding Summer Native American Fellowship opportunities, please email to join our recruitment list.

      I was welcomed as a team member, not just somebody spending 10 weeks here.
      — Gena Peone (Spokane/Colville), Summer Fellow 2017
      It's a tremendous opportunity…to learn from a great team of people and engage in important projects.
      — Alex Kahsenni:io Nahwegahbow (Anishinaabe/Kanien’keha:ka), Summer Fellow 2015
      PEM enabled me to have a space where I could have my voice heard and be respected.
      — Meranda Roberts (Northern Paiute/Chicana), Summer Fellow 2016
      My confidence started showing when I was able to contribute my ideas…they gave me a place to let my creativity come out.
      — Courtney Little Axe (Northern Cheyenne/Absentee Shawnee), Summer Fellow 2017
      There are so many different topics that the NAF program covers. It's not just for museum professionals. It's not just for art historians. It's not just for museum sciences. It's a whole other world.
      — Brittany Gene (Navajo Nation), Summer Fellow 2018
      Personally, I think it's changed my life. I know that there's so many things I can do – not just on my own, but with a community. I think that that has changed my perspective on my life.
      — Rachel Allen (Nez Perce), Long-term Fellow 2018
      I think that one of the biggest surprises and greatest comforts that I've had during both summer and long-term fellowship was knowing [that] other people I work with were committed to not only working with me this summer, but working to help me in the future.
      — Hattie Hapai (Kanaka ‘Ōiwi), Summer Fellow 2021 and Long-Term Fellow 2022

      Program benefits

      A few Summer Fellows at the Red Sox Game

      Make connections
      Once Fellows are selected and matched to available projects and supervisors at PEM, two online orientations occur prior to their arrival in Salem. An intensive first-week onboarding connects Fellows to program staff, PEM department supervisors and one another.

      Foster new skills
      Our thoughtful selection process allows us to consider how available projects in PEM departments can best enhance participants’ experiences by leveraging existing talents while nurturing new skills. Previous Fellows have worked in the Curatorial, Development, Integrated Media, Public Relations, Marketing, Collection Management, Merchandising and Education departments and in PEM’s Phillips Library.

      Reclaim space
      Weekly intensive workshops with innovative professionals, supplemental offsite field trips and other scheduled museum events give Fellows a chance to be inspired, seek insights and add their voices to the professional conversation.

      Receive mentorship support
      Great conversations and long-lasting relationships occur in supportive environments. We provide Fellows with ongoing support and training before, during and after the experience through initial orientations, regular communication, goal-setting consultations and mentor-style check-ins.

      Unlock potential
      At the end of their time in Salem, Fellows express passion in their ability to contribute within the museum community, and convey confidence in their capacity for renewed focus, direction and innovation.


      The writing sample should show your style and ability to express clear, critical thinking, with the research to back it up. Some department placements require strong writing and research skills, and we strive to place Fellows in positions where they feel successful. Writing samples can be an academic paper, exhibition proposal or an extensive blog post or other publication that best demonstrates these skills.

      Selected summer and long-term Fellows are expected to work full time at the museum — usually Monday through Friday, 9 am to 5 pm. Depending on department placement, Fellows might be asked to help with evening or weekend events. As part of their work week, summer Fellows participate in weekly workshops and occasional field trips (possibly on weekends). Long-term Fellows may be invited to join summer workshops and programmatic field trips based on their department work schedule and project loads. Long-term Fellows work with their supervisors and NAF staff to select and book travel for professional development opportunities of their choosing.

      The essay prompts are opportunities to share what your community, education and work experiences have given you, where you want to go, and how PEM and the fellowship will help you achieve that. Our aim is to look at your overall trajectory, identifying skills and areas that you need in order to achieve that larger goal. This, along with available projects, will help determine your department placement. In the essays, you may indicate any area(s) of focus that you are particularly interested in. We ask that you be open to a variety of placements as a part of learning all you can from this experience.

      Yes, the summer fellowships are offered annually and important program dates happen around the same time every year:

      Applications Open: Early–Mid December
      Applications Close: Late January
      Notification of Selection: Mid–Late March
      Online Orientation Meetings (Two): May (via Video)
      Fellows Arrive in Salem: Early June
      Fellows depart from Salem: Early August

      Summer Fellows who can devote time to the full length of the program tend to reap the most benefits. Because the summer program is short, we ask those who have made outside commitments to determine if they can amend the trip length or hold off applying for the program until a time when they are free to focus on the experience.

      Fellows become full-time employees of the Peabody Essex Museum. All PEM employees are required to submit authorization and documents necessary for PEM's background check.

      Yes. Though we have accepted Fellows who have families and children, please note that the shared housing setup does not allow for families to be housed with other fellows.

      Housing is provided for summer fellows. In the past, we have obtained two shared, furnished apartments and each fellow has had their own room. We encourage summer Fellows to discuss and come to an agreement on apartment rules (cleanliness, guests, noise, etc.) soon after arriving so the eight weeks are enjoyable.

      Our alumni often find lasting relationships and a second home in Salem as part of the NAF family. Fellows find shared apartment living essential to cultivating those relationships and sense of community outside of the museum. Commuting to and from PEM and the costs associated with the commute are the responsibility of the fellows. We seek apartments that have a security system in place and that are located close to PEM, so Fellows have the option of walking, biking or taking public transit.

      The program determines apartment-mates prior to the Summer Fellows' arrival based on a variety of factors. Through the application and interview process, we learn as much as we can about personalities and interests. We match apartment-mates to ensure the best possible experience for everyone!

      Because fellowships are paid positions at PEM, accepted Fellows must submit proof of identity and eligibility to work in the United States. These documents are not part of the initial application submission, and are presented on the first day of work. If a position has been offered and accepted, we will ask for them as part of the onboarding process.

      Featured stories


      Conserving barkcloth and its meaning

      9 min read


      Ongoing effort seeks to identify and correct harmful terms in PEM’s library catalog

      5 min read


      ‘We are no longer alone’

      5 min read


      At the Edge

      9 min read