SAAM and the Renwick Gallery offer two internship programs to coincide with the academic calendar. Since 1968, the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s internship programs have provided instruction and inspiration to hundreds of graduate and undergraduate students, as well as others seeking self-enrichment. Former interns have achieved success in professional positions in the art and museum fields, both nationally and internationally.
The Smithsonian American Art Museum offers two internship programs to coincide with the academic calendar. The Advanced-Level Program takes place during the fall and spring semesters; the eight-week Summer Program begins early to mid-June.
Like the museum field itself, the scope of these programs has grown to include participants from all academic backgrounds. Mentoring relationships between interns and staff are promoted, and program alumni are encouraged to maintain contact for networking purposes. An alumni reunion is held yearly.Interns pay no fee for program participation, and academic enrollment is not required. If academic credit is earned, however, fees are required.
Spring & Fall Semesters
The goal of the Advanced-Level Program is to instill a comprehensive knowledge of museum operations. “Hands-on” experience is combined with professional instruction in a format designed to identify, stimulate, and promote the academic and professional objectives of its participants.
Students participate in a series of museum projects. The career interests and aspirations of each intern are considered in making placements. These assignments, combined with supplementary instruction, provide exposure to a wide range of museum careers and opportunities. More than twenty-five introductory workshops or seminars in administration, conservation, registration, and other topics—as well as lectures in art history—are presented by field professionals. An extensive reading list supplements practical experience and workshop presentations.
Interns are required to maintain a detailed journal during their final project. An oral comprehensive review, based on each intern’s particular program, concludes the training. Students receive a letter grade and evaluation after successfully completing each section of the internship.
The Advanced-Level program is offered during the fall and spring semesters to coincide with the academic calendar. Two formats are available:
- In the two-semester option, students intern twenty hours per week, allowing for class enrollment or part-time employment. During the fall semester, interns work in two different museum offices for six-and-a-half weeks each. The spring semester assignment takes place in one office selected by the intern.
- In the one-semester option, students participate forty hours per week and the format is condensed. Each intern completes two initial assignments of three-and-a-half weeks each, then spends the final six weeks focusing on a project of his or her choosing.
Qualifications for the Advanced-Level Program
Master’s degree candidates are preferred. Pre-doctoral candidates who have had little previous museum experience, exceptional college seniors, and other graduates not currently enrolled will be considered on an individual basis.
Primarily Undergraduate level*
Summer - 8 Weeks, June to August
The Summer Program provides an introduction to museum work for undergraduate students who have little or no previous museum experience. Instead of moving from office to office, interns in the Summer Program concentrate on one aspect of museum work that matches the individual's interests and career goals. The program runs for eight weeks from the beginning of June through the beginning of August. Small stipends may be awarded to assist in summer housing costs. The number and value of stipends vary yearly.
Qualifications for the Summer Program
Students should be entering or have completed their junior year in college at the time of application and have little or no previous museum experience.
*Graduate students will be considered for this program on an individual basis.
All internship placements for both the Advanced-Level and the Summer Program internships are made by the Intern Program Officer, based on project availability and the individual’s qualifications. Please note that internships in the Conservation Department are only available to students currently enrolled in a graduate-level art conservation program. See also Post-Graduate Fellowships in Conservation of Museum Collections.
Applicants may suggest assignment in one or more of the following museum areas:
- Research and Scholars Center
- Curatorial Office
- Development Office
- Office of Educational Programs
- Exhibitions Office
- External Affairs Office
- Media and Technology Office
- Publications Office
- Registrar’s Office
- The Renwick Gallery
The Harry and Beverly Mandil Internship provides annual support for one graduate student participating in the Advanced-Level Program. The award is based on academic achievement and financial need.
Through a generous contribution by Harry and Beverly Mandil in 1992, the award supports students interested in museum careers in the areas of curatorship, exhibition design and production, education, or publication. Mr. and Mrs. Mandil have a special interest in educational endowments that encourage young scholars in the arts and sciences. Harry Mandil is an engineering graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Beverly Mandil is a practicing artist. They are long-standing Contributing Members of the Smithsonian Institution.
Graduate students who wish to be considered for the Mandil Internship should address this request in their statement of purpose.
Students from all colleges and universities are eligible to earn academic credit from their home institution, in contractual arrangement with the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
The Museum's successful intern program represents a financial commitment. Therefore, when an intern receives credit for the internship or when the internship fulfills a university requirement, the Museum requires the home college, university, or sponsoring organization to pay a facility and instruction fee. The amount of this fee is a percentage of the amount the student pays his or her home institution. If a student does not pay the home institution during the program, the fee is determined by the internship duration. These fees exclusively support program participants and maintain the high standards of the Smithsonian American Art Museum's exceptional training programs.
Students who want to receive academic credit must notify the Smithsonian American Art Museum Intern Program Officer in advance of the internship, and a college advisor or official must approve the student's plan. Appropriate forms and information will be provided upon request. All contractual arrangements for academic credit must be completed prior to commencement of the internship.
Deans and university faculty who wish to enhance their curricula with the Museum's Advanced-Level Internship Program are invited to contact the Office of Intern Programs. At the institution's request, a detailed program presentation and consultation with a Smithsonian American Art Museum representative may be arranged; the host college or university pays travel and lodging.
How to Apply
There is no application form for these programs. To apply, candidates must submit the following items:
- A statement of purpose expressing personal career goals in the museum field, what skills he or she hopes to acquire, and why the Smithsonian American Art Museum has been chosen as a learning center
- A résumé of relevant education and work experience
- Three letters of recommendation (academic and/or professional)
- Transcripts from all schools attended above high school level
Application materials (statement, resume, transcripts, and recommendations) may be sent either as a packet or individually. Applicants should contact the Office of Intern Programs to make sure all items have been received.
The Professional Training Committee, a group of five staff members, reviews applications, evaluates candidates' qualifications, and later monitors each intern’s progress. The committee also participates in the oral review for the Advanced-Level Program.
Applications for both programs should be postmarked no later than March 1. Applications received after this date will be waitlisted.
Application materials should be addressed to:
Judith Houston Hollomon
Intern Program Officer
Smithsonian American Art Museum
MRC 970, PO Box 37012
Washington, DC 20013-7012
To get additional information or to ask questions, contact Judith Houston Hollomon via telephone at (202) 633-8355 or email at HollomonJ@si.edu.