The Terra Foundation Fellowships in American Art 

head shots of the five Terra foundation Fellows for 2021-2022 year.

The Terra Foundation Fellowships in American Art expand narratives of American art by fostering inclusive and equitable research that centers undervalued and underrepresented artists and communities. Fellowships of three to twelve months are available at the predoctoral and postdoctoral levels, and ten-week summer graduate fellowships are open to MA and PhD students who have not yet advanced to candidacy.  Fellowships are residential and support full-time independent research in the Smithsonian collections. 

SAAM believes that recruiting and maintaining an inclusive and diverse cohort of fellows is critical to our mission. Thus, we seek applicants familiar with the experiences of groups historically underrepresented in the field of American art. We especially welcome applications from qualified persons of color; who are Indigenous; with disabilities; who are LGBTQ+; who are first-generation college graduates; from low-income households; and who are veterans. The Smithsonian does not discriminate on grounds of race, color, religion, sex (including gender identity, sexual orientation, and pregnancy), national origin, age, disability, genetic information, parental status, or marital status. 

Qualifications and Selection

Eligible projects will center undervalued and underrepresented artists and communities. They may focus on the art and visual culture of any period, including contemporary art, provided that it engages with historical American art, U.S. history, or American art history and relates to the collections of the Smithsonian Institution. Priority will be given to proposals that: 

  • Reflect a cross-cultural approach or otherwise foreground the United States’ global connections, the diversity of its cultural heritage, and the diasporic identities of its people; 

  • Demonstrate inclusive models of research and interpretation including, but not limited to, community-engaged, interdisciplinary, collaborative, and digital methods. 

Applications will also be evaluated on the originality and quality of the proposed research project; the applicant’s academic standing, scholarly qualifications, and experience; and the extent to which the Smithsonian, through its research staff and resources, can contribute to the stated research goals. Candidates must be proficient in reading and speaking English. A committee comprised of Smithsonian curators and outside scholars will review the applications. 

Support and Tenure

The stipend for a one-year fellowship is $42,000 at the predoctoral level and $55,000 for postdoctoral scholars, with an allowance of up to $5,000 available for short research trips. Additional allowances may be provided to help with temporary relocation to the Smithsonian and the cost of health insurance. The standard term of residency is twelve months, but shorter terms are available with prorated stipends. Residencies must take place between June 1, 2024, and August 31, 2025. 

Graduate student fellowships are available for ten-week terms and are awarded a stipend of $8,000. An additional allowance may be provided to assist with temporary relocation to the Smithsonian. Residencies are available in June, July, and August. 

The Smithsonian Office of International Relations will assist with arranging J-1 exchange visas for all fellowship recipients who require them. 

How to Apply

Interested candidates should propose a SAAM primary fellowship advisor and submit their application to the Smithsonian Institution Fellowship Program (SIFP). Only one application is necessary. Applicants to the SIFP who propose a SAAM primary advisor will automatically be considered for the Terra Foundation Fellowships if eligible. To find a potential advisor whose research interests match yours, browse the museum’s staff listings in the Smithsonian Opportunities for Research and Study guide or search our Staff Bios. The deadline for applications is November 1, 2023. 

The Terra Foundation for American Art fosters intercultural dialogues and encourages transformative practices to expand narratives of American art. 

Smithsonian American Art Museum logo, Terra Foundation logo, Italian Embassy logo, and Istituto Italiano di Cultura logo.
This is the logo for the Terra Foundation for American Art.