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September 08, 2015

Interning at the Museum: Safak Tezer, Exhibition Design

The blog series Interning at the Museum highlights the projects and accomplishments of the National Museum of the American Indian's interns. Each intern completes a 10-week internship in a department at one of the museum's three facilities—the museum on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.; Cultural Resources Center in Suitland, Maryland; or George Gustav Heye Center in New York City. The museum’s Internship Program offers sessions in the spring, summer, and fall. The next deadline for applications—for the spring 2016 session—is November 20, 2015. These interviews feature members of this year's recently completed summer session. —Sarah Frost 

Safak Tezer brought design skills and experience to her intern position at the museum in New York.

Tell us a little about yourself and your background.

My name is Safak Tezer, I just received my MA in exhibition design from the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York, and I’m from Istanbul, Turkey.

What department did you intern in, and what projects did you work on?

My internship was with the Exhibit Design staff at the museum's Heye Center in New York. Projects I worked on include the Infinity of Nations exhibition and the imagiNations Activity Center, which is especially for children. For the imagiNATIONS project, I created 3D designs for an activity called Many Kinds of Rope, drew illustrations for mock-ups, and did sketches for scaling purposes for Day in Your Life panels.

Why did you decide to intern at NMAI?

I wanted to experience designing exhibits within a museum setting versus a corporate trade show environment. The NMAI internship has allowed me to utilize my experience in interior architecture, along with the recent skill set I obtained in the Master of Arts program at FIT. Furthermore, learning about Native Americans has been an exciting experience for a person who is from a different part of the world. 

What is your favorite aspect of your internship?

I enjoyed being able to work on different projects in a variety of ways. This has helped me to improve my design skills. I met amazing people, learned from them, and benefitted from their experiences. In my opinion, human relationships are more valuable than anything!   

What have you learned, and what do you hope to achieve because of this internship?

Interning at NMAI has been a wonderful opportunity and has given me hands-on experience working in a museum setting. I have learned a lot about how a museum operates—the day-to-day workings and programming. My expectations have been exceeded. My NMAI experience will no doubt help me along my career path both nationally and internationally.

How has interning helped you understand your own cultural interests?

Native Americans’ philosophy of life has always been of interest to me. I come from a different background as a Turkish person. Even though globalization has lessened unique cultural differences between people, we continue to have distinct sensibilities. It has been nice to be influenced by my new surroundings, which have contributed to my philosophy of life.

Do you have advice for aspiring interns?

Don’t be afraid to try new things. It is important to remain open to new and different experiences. Everything can teach you something. You never know what you will gain through your internship. 

Interviewer Sarah Frost spent her summer internship at the museum as a member of the Web staff, helping launch the Inka Road website and other new projects online and in social media. She will continue to work on the museum's digital projects this fall.

Photo courtesy of Safak Tezer; used with permission. 


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