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SIMA will not be accepting applications for 2018. Please check back for information on 2019

A completed application must include the following:
(1) Contact Information
(2) Statement of Interest
(3) Proposed Research Project
(4) Letter(s) of Support

Application review will begin March 1 and applicants will be notified of results within a month.

All materials should be submitted via email to:

Student materials should be sent as a single attachment prepared as a WORD document, with the applicant’s name included on each page. Letters of support should be sent directly by the faculty member and will be accepted either as email messages or as attachments.CONTACT INFORMATION

gn_04307b1Include your name, email address, phone number, and postal address. Give the name, email address, and telephone number of faculty whom you have asked to provide letters of support.

Your statement should address the following:

-Why do you want to participate in the Summer Institute in Museum Anthropology?

-What is your educational background, and past and current research activities? (Tell us about related courses you have taken, such as art, material culture, representation, theory, history of anthropology, museology, or materiality studies.)

  • What are your future plans relating to museum and archival research? You should demonstrate how this training will facilitate your thesis, dissertation, or other specific research goals. (We are specifically looking for graduate students who will conduct museum-based research during their careers; previous efforts to work with objects, photographs, film, or video may suggest such a commitment. Students who want to work with objects in museum collections but who have had no previous experience should discuss how research with objects will be a component of their future graduate research plans.)
  • If you are not enrolled in an Anthropology program, tell us how your work relates to current issues in anthropology. We will consider students from any field who can make a clear case that their work with museum objects will make a contribution to the field of cultural anthropology.

    (See guidelines under Who Should Apply.)


The statement of your individual research project is not expected to be a fully developed proposal, but rather a suggestion of the kinds of materials you would like to study during the summer and how you hope these materials can be used. It should describe how studying a particular group of objects, a type of object found in a variety of museums, or the material from a particular locality or cultural region might be used to address your inquiry. The project should be suitable for eventual development into a publishable paper.Munson and Johnson- collections lab

-State the question, hypothesis, or issue you hope to address.

-Describe how the data you plan to collect is applicable to the question or issue you have raised and briefly note what materials in the Anthropology Department collections you would like to use in addressing this question. (Please consult the collection databases in order to confirm that there are at least some objects suitable for your analysis. You may note other Smithsonian resources that may be useful but the NMNH Anthropology object collection must be your primary learning site.

Many students change their proposed projects somewhat during the course of the Summer Institute: you will not be limited to the questions, issues, or materials that you propose in your application. Descriptions of past student projects are available here and may be useful in thinking about how to fashion your proposal.


SIMA 2012-MSCLetters of support from faculty must cover two issues. One letter should be a reference from someone who knows the student's past academic work well. It should critically evaluate the applicant’s academic performance, likelihood of applying this training, and his or her potential for success in a research career that will include cultural anthropological research. The other letter must be a letter of commitment from an anthropologist on the faculty who commits to formally supervise the student's project in the year after participating in SIMA. One letter covering both issues may be submitted if the same person can serve as both a reference and as a future project supervisor.

The letter of reference should:

  • Evaluate the student's academic performance in classroom and other fieldwork (including lab and hands-on courses) in terms of GPA, likelihood of completing a doctorate, and individual potential for success in research and publication.

The letter of commitment to project supervision should:

  • Indicate personal commitment to supervise further development and implementation of the project initiated during SIMA, which is expected to lead to a publishable paper. Indicate the role supervision will take, such as dissertation advisor, thesis committee member, supervisor for independent study course, etc.


    We can help. We understand that for many students this is the first opportunity to work with museum collections and it can be hard to know where to start. Drop us an email (the earlier the better) and we'll get back to you. Or check in with one of the former students. Several have said they are glad to consult with prospective SIMA applicants and have provided their email addresses.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Number 1127060, Grant Number BCS-0852511, and Grant Number BCS-1424029.

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