Internship: Heritage Open Days Research Intern

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Heritage Open Days was set up in 1994 with a simple but compelling founding principle: to open the doors to historic buildings and monuments, especially those normally closed to the public. A quarter of a century later, Heritage Open Days is now England’s largest festival of history and culture, with over 5,700 events in 2019.  Over 2,000 organisers and almost 50,000 volunteers use imagination and innovation to connect an audience of 3 million people to the stories and places that make their local community unique.  The festival has developed from being an event focusing on built architecture to encompass green spaces, town centres, archaeological sites, walks, talks, pop-up workshops, art exhibitions and performances. Heritage Open Days, an entirely free festival, is a unique chance for communities nationwide to come together to learn, explore and have fun by sharing the treasures on their doorstep.

Co-ordinated centrally by the National Trust, Heritage Open Days is part of the wider European Heritage Days (EHD) community of events which sees parallel programmes take place in around 50 countries across the continent.

With the aims of celebrating the rich cultural diversity of Europe and countering racism and xenophobia, it’s increasingly important that these festivals centre a multiplicity of voices and actively promote a wide range of participation. The pan-European theme in 2021 will be ‘inclusive heritage’ and, building on a pilot project co-run with the Scottish Civic Trust in 2019, Heritage Open Days wants to ensure the opportunities of that year and that theme are fully realised in England and beyond.


What you will do

With support and guidance from the project team, the successful applicant will play an important role in searching for and collating examples of current practice in this area, including:

  • A global review of ‘inclusive heritage’ practice (including grass-roots, semi-professional, professional and governmental spheres)
  • Examples of events, initiatives and organisations that are working in inclusive ways
  • Existing evaluation and research of such work, including published reports
  • Relevant academic centres, programmes or initiatives
  • Relevant examples drawn from beyond the UK and the US, from small to large scale organisations and projects.

We expect a focus on heritage, conservation and museological practice in the first instance but are open to examples from the wider cultural sector.

The internship will require desk-based research in addition to meetings with the project team. Your findings will be shared at the end of the internship as a written report and a presentation to key project staff.

This work will provide a critical foundation for preparations for the EHD theme in 2021. It will also inform the next steps that Heritage Open Days and our colleagues across Europe take to evolve and interrogate our work in this area.


What you will gain

By the end of the internship you will have gained an insight into how research informs heritage projects and knowledge of how cultural organisations, including Heritage Open Days, are seeking to broaden their practice and participation. You will also have the opportunity to compile a report and present your findings at the end of the project to staff from the National Trust and Oxford University.



You will be co-supervised by Annie Reilly (Heritage Open Days Manager, National Trust) and Alice Purkiss (National Trust Partnership Lead, Oxford University). You will be expected to work remotely for the majority of the project, in addition to attending a number of meetings with the supervisors in either Oxford, Swindon or London (any travel and subsistence expenses to be covered by the internship bursary – see below).


Applicant profile

Applications are invited from current Oxford University post-graduate students in the Humanities (taught masters, MPhils and DPhils). Candidates must demonstrate:

  • Good written communication skills
  • Experience of consolidating and presenting research findings in an accessible manner
  • An ability to work independently
  • A keen interest in working in – or with – the heritage sector
  • An interest in inclusive heritage programming, public engagement and/or knowledge exchange is desirable, but not essential


Project dates & bursary

The internship will run full time (9am – 5pm) from Monday 6th January to Friday 17th January 2020, with a final presentation on the afternoon of the 17th. A bursary of £750 will be provided.

Please note that the successful applicant must commit to undertaking the full two weeks of the internship and will have to complete a Right To Work check ahead of the project start date.

The intern will be required to attend a briefing meeting with the project team on the afternoon of the 11th December.


Application process & deadline

Please email the following documents in PDF format to with the email subject: HOD Research Intern by 12 noon on Monday 2nd December:

  • A 1-page personal statement, explaining why you are interested in the placement and why you would be well-suited to the post, addressing the applicant profile above
  • A CV (2 pages max.)

This opportunity is supported by the National Trust Partnership – find out more here