For Maria José Salume, interning at the Climate Museum was an opportunity to bring together topics she’s passionate about. 

“The first time I knew about the Climate Museum, I was just walking in SoHo; I saw the window and I went in and loved it,” said Salume, who recently graduated from Fordham College at Lincoln Center. “I thought, ‘Wow, it would be great to work at an organization like this, that combines art and climate action.’ It was right up my alley with my environmental studies and humanitarian studies majors.”

John van Buren, Salume’s major advisor and director of the environmental studies program, sent an email a few weeks later with internship opportunities that included one at the museum.

Salume said she “applied immediately.” She started in January as a development intern, working with companies to secure donations.

“Majo [her nickname]has been an incredible force,” said Saskia Randle, a design and curatorial associate at the museum—the first of its kind in the U.S. “As the Climate Museum looks to expand our impact, her research and organizational skills have been essential. Her sincere and enthusiastic work with visitors, particularly younger students, has reinforced our mission to offer opportunities for climate awareness and action to all.” 

Maria José Salume poses in front of an action wall at the Climate Museum. Photo courtesy of Maria José Salume

Salume said that she became interested in sustainability at a summer camp when she was younger. At Fordham, courses, such as Art Design and Politics, have helped her connect art with environmental action. She also explored those two themes through another internship with the Chelsea Music Festival, which had an environmentally-focused theme last year.

Through working at the museum, Salume said that she saw how art helps younger people connect with complicated topics like climate change. 

“We have this mural, and I think it’s so visually appealing,” she said. “It has so much color, and it does a great job at envisioning a sustainable future. There is a section where it represents where we are now, which is a lot of protests …. And at the end of the mural, you can see a very green, very colorful, very lively world—the kids really resonate with that more than just plain facts.”

Salume was surprised to find she liked the fundraising aspect of her internships. 

“In my past two internships, I’ve been the development intern, which became an unexpected interest of mine,” she said. “But I’m doing my thesis on fast fashion, and the environmental and humanitarian impacts of that, and that has really pushed me to that sector as well.”