Investigating and Exhibiting the History of Science

Advisor: Alexi Baker (Collections Manager, YPM Division of History of Science and Technology) 



Length: 6-8 weeks in the summer 


Program Description:

The Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History seeks a motivated Yale student to participate in a six- to eight-week internship in the summer of 2021, with the Division of History of Science and Technology (HST). HST has a nationally-important collection of historical scientific and medical instruments, other scientific and medical artifacts, and technologies of all kinds from across more than 500 years. These fascinating objects tell the story of science at Yale since its foundation in 1701, but also a multitude of other stories about science and technology and all aspects of daily life.  


The HST collection will have a dedicated exhibition gallery for the first time when the Peabody Museum reopens after its major renovation in a few years. We are in the process of doing research, design, and feedback activities to create this gallery - as well as other related displays, A/V installations, digital resources, social media, publications, and programming. This also involves collaborating with the other galleries and working groups at the Peabody related to the display of manmade artifacts, to the museum’s relationship with communities from the local to the international, and to modern social justice.  


The summer intern will be able to make vital contributions to these activities, to be determined not only by our own needs but also by the intern’s interests and previous relevant experience. It would be useful but is not required for applicants to have previous experience related to one or more of the above mentioned activities. This could include, for example, previous experience with history, science, museums, community groups, public communication, social media, website design, or animation.  


Being interested, motivated, adaptable, and dependable are the most important qualities for this position! Potential applicants are welcome to discuss their ideas and any previous relevant experience with Dr. Baker before the deadline. Just as an example, the previous HST intern in summer 2020 researched women and people of color and local communities in the history of science at Yale, recorded related oral histories, helped with focus groups for the new gallery, and blogged. 


The state of the Covid-19 pandemic by summer 2021 will determine whether or not this internship is conducted partly or wholly in person, or whether it will need to be completed remotely. We were able to successfully and engagingly carry out an entirely remote internship in summer 2020. If onsite work does become possible, this could include work at the HST collection at Yale’s West Campus, at the university libraries and archives and other collections, and with local focus groups and oral history subjects. 


Our goal with the new exhibition gallery and other current activities is to communicate the discoveries and technological innovations associated with artifacts in the HST collection, but also “the human stories”. People and communities have been involved in, excluded by, and affected by knowledge creation and other technology-based practices in diverse ways over the centuries. Despite the modern ideal of scientific objectivity, this has included science and technology being influenced by and supporting horrifically prejudiced ideas and institutions - as well as impacting the environment around the world. 


We also want to emphasize the global origins, and not just the global impacts, of science and technology. Because the HST collection originally emerged out of Yale’s own apparatus, the majority of its objects were made in Europe or North America. However, many of the types of objects which we have - as well as the knowledge-making and technology-based practices which employed them - have much longer and more global histories. Some of these stretch back millennia around the globe.  


Stipend: $2250-3000