Smithsonian Institution: Interpreting African American History & Culture Workshop

Jennifer Zazo-Brown
Primary contact: Jennifer Zazo-Brown
Where: Charleston, SC
Jan 26 - Feb 1, 2020


About the Program

The National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), Office of Strategic Partnerships, in collaboration with Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission (CCPRC), is pleased to offer a professional development opportunity in Interpretive Training for museum professionals dedicated to the study or appreciation of the African Diaspora and African American life, art, history, and/or culture.

The workshop is geared towards museum professionals who are engaged in historical and cultural interpretation or a closely related field, with career aspirations that involve the field of interpretation. The goal of the program is to recognize professionals with the potential to make the greatest contributions to their museum or historic site in the field of interpretation by providing them with access to resources and training in the ethical interpretation of history and ongoing opportunities for continued engagement in a community of practice. The program additionally addresses the need for greater diversity in the field of interpretation.

Learning Objectives

Participants who successfully complete the 32-hour Interpretation Workshop will receive National Association for Interpretation (NAI) certification. Interested applicants should be advised that the workshop is an immersive experience with prerequisite reading assignments (to be completed in advance of the workshop as well as study hours) and homework (to be completed in the evening hours).

Participants will be required to complete an open book multiple choice literature review, prepare a presentation outline, and present a 10-minute thematic interpretive presentation based on some aspect of African American history and culture on the final day of the workshop. In addition to the 32-hour certification training curriculum, the workshop will include approximately 18 hours of visiting and analyzing the interpretation of African American history and culture, including methodology, utilized at a variety of historic sites in the local Charleston area.

As a result of the knowledge acquired from this workshop, participants will:

  • Learn about the history of the interpretation profession
  • Acquire an understanding of the basic principles of interpretation
  • Be able to demonstrate a thematic approach to developing and delivering interpretation that connects audiences to historical resources in meaningful ways
  • Become familiar with current literature in the field of interpretation
  • Apply what they have learned to their own sites


Eligibility Criteria

  • Beginning with the incoming Class of 2020, eligibility requirements for participation have been extended to all museum professionals engaged in the field of interpretation or a related field, with at least 2 years of professional museum experience.
  • Students strictly enrolled in full-time academic programs, without any affiliated and/or current museum work are not eligible.


The workshop will be held Sunday, January 26 through Saturday, February 1, 2020 at James Island County Park in Charleston, SC. Tuition to attend the workshop is $1,250 per person and includes the workshop itself and all materials; NAI Certification Fees; admission and transportation to all offsite excursions in Charleston; breakfast and lunch throughout the week, as well as dinner on the first and last nights; 6-nights shared accommodations in two-bedroom, two-bathroom suites at the Residence Inn by Marriott Charleston Downtown/Riverview and daily shuttle service to/from the workshop site at James Island County Park.

Scholarship Opportunities

Thanks to the generosity of program sponsors -- National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), Association of African American Museums (AAAM), Southeastern Museums Conference (SEMC) and the National Park Service (NPS) --  there are a number of scholarships available for both travel and/or tuition. See eligibility requirements under each opportunity. Scholarship application is on the last page of the Smithsonian Institution Interpreting African American History and Culture Workshop announcement.

To Apply

The application process for the Class of 2020 opens on Monday, September 23 and closes by 11:59 PM on Friday, November 1, 2019. Please note that all application materials (and scholarship request form, if applicable) must be combined into one PDF File and uploaded through the online application form.

Required Materials

  • Online application form
  • Applicant resume or CV (3-page maximum)
  • Letter of recommendation from immediate supervisor/director
  • Statement of interest: Please share your interest in attending the interpretation workshop and how you and your institution will benefit from your attendance at the workshop (i.e. any special project(s) and/or workplace challenges you are hoping to address. 500-word maximum)
  • Personal vision statement: Please share how you will apply newly acquired interpretation tools/skills at your institution and/or personal interpretation. (500-word maximum)


Scholarship Request Form (located on last page of this announcement) - if you wish to apply for an available scholarship, please indicate which scholarship fund(s) you are applying for (NMAAHC, AAAM, SEMC and/or NPS). Follow the instructions and eligibility requirements above. Please note that only one scholarship can be awarded per applicant.

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