Research Fellowships

Fellowship Opportunities in American Art

The Smithsonian American Art Museum invites applications for research fellowships in the art and visual culture of the United States. Fellowships are residential and support full-time independent and dissertation research. Recipients will be part of the premier residential fellowship program in American art—one that celebrates its fiftieth anniversary in 2020.

Resources and Facilities

SAAM is home to one of the largest and most inclusive collections of American art in the world. Its artworks reveal the United States’ rich artistic and cultural history from the colonial period to today. This unparalleled collection includes special strengths in nineteenth- and twentieth-century marble and bronze sculpture, nineteenth-century landscape painting, Gilded Age and American impressionist painting, twentieth-century realism, photography and graphic art, folk and self-taught art, Latino art, African American art, and film and media art. Artists represented in depth include George Catlin, William H. Johnson, Sean Scully, Lee Friedlander, Christo, Nam June Paik, and William T. Wiley, among others. The collection is housed in a National Historic Landmark building shared with the National Portrait Gallery (NPG) and the Archives of American Art. More than 3,000 artworks are on view in SAAM’s Luce Foundation Center, a three-story visible art storage facility, while conservation treatments in progress can be seen through the glass walls of the adjacent Lunder Conservation Center. Contemporary American craft is featured in the Renwick Gallery, a branch of the museum located across from the White House in a recently renovated building designed in 1858 by James Renwick.

Each scholar is provided a carrel in SAAM’s Research and Scholars Center, situated across the street from the museum. Available research resources there include an 180,000-volume library that specializes in American art, history, and biography; the Archives of American Art; the graphics collections of SAAM and NPG; the Joseph Cornell Study Center; and the Nam June Paik Archive, as well as a variety of image collections and research databases. Located in downtown Washington, DC, SAAM’s Research and Scholars Center is a short walk from other Smithsonian museums and libraries, the Library of Congress, the National Archives, and the National Gallery of Art. Regular lunchtime seminars, workshops, public lectures, and symposia provide a forum for scholarly exchange and professional advancement.

Qualifications and Selection

Predoctoral applicants must have completed coursework and preliminary examinations for their doctoral degree and must be engaged in dissertation research. Postdoctoral fellowships are available to support specific research projects by scholars who have earned a PhD or equivalent. Senior fellowships are intended for scholars with a distinguished publication record who have held their doctoral degree for more than seven years or who possess a commensurate record of professional accomplishment.

Applications will be evaluated on the quality of the proposed research project; its compatibility with Smithsonian collections, facilities, staff, and programs; and the applicant's academic standing, scholarly qualifications, and experience. A committee of curators and historians will review the proposals.

Fellowships Available

SAAM hosts fellows supported by the Smithsonian Institution Fellowship Program (SIFP) and also offers the following named fellowships:

  • The Joe and Wanda Corn Fellowship is endowed by their former students Mike Wilkins and Sheila Duignan and supports scholars whose research interests span American art and American history. The recipient will be jointly appointed at SAAM and the National Museum of American History (NMAH) and will draw on the resources of both museums.
  • The Douglass Foundation Fellowship in American Art is given for predoctoral research in American art.
  • The Patricia and Phillip Frost Fellowship is offered to support research in American art and visual culture.
  • The George Gurney Fellowship funds a one- to three-month research appointment in American sculpture in honor of the distinguished career of SAAM's former curator of sculpture. Contribute to this fund.
  • The Sara Roby Fellowship in Twentieth-Century American Realism is awarded to a scholar whose research topic is in the area of American realism.
  • The Joshua C. Taylor Fellowship is supported by alumni and friends of the fellowship program. Contribute to this fund.
  • The Terra Foundation Fellowships in American Art seek to foster a cross-cultural dialogue about the history of the art of the United States up to 1980. Three twelve-month fellowships are awarded annually, one each at the predoctoral, postdoctoral, and senior levels, to scholars from abroad who are researching American art or to U.S. scholars with an exceptionally strong international component to their study.
  • The William H. Truettner Fellowship supports one to three months of research in recognition of Mr. Truettner's career of nearly fifty years as a curator of painting and sculpture at SAAM. Contribute to this fund.
  • The Wyeth Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship is awarded for the advancement and completion of a doctoral dissertation that concerns the study, appreciation, and recognition of excellence in all aspects of American art.

Support and Tenure

The stipend for a one-year fellowship is $36,000 for predoctoral scholars and $50,400 for postdoctoral and senior scholars, with an allowance of up to $4,000 available for short research trips. The standard residency is twelve months, but shorter terms are available with prorated stipends. All fellowships must take place between June 1, 2018, and August 31, 2019. The Smithsonian Office of International Relations will assist with arranging J-1 exchange visas for fellowship recipients who require them.


December 1, 2017, is the application deadline. Only one SIFP application is necessary; applicants will automatically be considered for all relevant fellowship awards. Applicants are encouraged to identify and share proposals with a SAAM primary advisor before submitting applications.

>>Application for the Smithsonian Institution Fellowship Program (SIFP)

Still have questions?

See FAQ About Applying for SAAM Fellowships

For research consultation or general information:

Amelia Goerlitz, Fellowship and Academic Programs Manager
Telephone (202) 633-8353

For other Smithsonian opportunities:

Smithsonian Office of Fellowships and Internships
Telephone: (202) 633-7070

Awards are based on merit. Fellowships are open to all qualified persons regardless of race, color, religion, gender, national origin, age, sexual orientation, or condition of handicap. The Smithsonian Institution's Office of International Relations will assist with arranging J-1 exchange visas for fellowship recipients who require them.