Interns visit the museum's print study room

Information for Prospective Internship Applicants:



SAAM and the Renwick Gallery offer two internship programs to coincide with the academic calendar. Since 1968, the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Renwick Gallery have provided instruction and inspiration to over one thousand 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.

Two Internship programs are offered that coincide with the academic calendar: The Advanced-Level Program takes place during the fall and spring semesters; the Summer Program is an eight-week program that begins early to mid-June.

There are no fees charged to students for program participation and academic enrollment is not required. Individuals from all academic backgrounds are welcome to apply. 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 during the College Art Association conference. 

    Advanced-Level Program

    A two-semester graduate-level program (fall and spring semesters), with participation 20 hours weekly, Monday-Friday.

    The Advanced Level Program provides its participants with a comprehensive overview of museum operations by combining hands-on project experience with professional instruction. The program structure is designed specifically to identify, stimulate, and promote the academic and professional goal of each student and to encourage and support their career development. This program is excellent for graduate students, as a supplement to their academic programs or for others interested in developing a career focus prior to attending graduate school. 

    Along with selected projects, an introduction to the museum profession is presented by the Smithsonian American Art Museum staff and other field professionals. Students attend over twenty-six workshops and seminars in art history, conservation, registration, administration, budget procedures, development efforts, resume design and writing, career development, and other topics. An extensive bibliography is available to supplement practical experience and workshop presentations. Participants are required to maintain a detailed journal during their final project. Students receive a letter grade and evaluation from their project supervisors after their tenure in each assigned area is completed. Program participants submit a confidential evaluation of their internship experience, for each museum assignment area, to the Intern Program Officer. 

    Program Options

    Two format options are available for the Advanced Level Program: 

    • Option 1: The recommended option is the two-semester, part-time, format. Students complete the program on a part-time schedule, participating twenty hours weekly for both the fall and spring semesters. Intern assignments in the fall semester are made by the intern Program Officer based on the student's interests and career goals. The spring semester assignment is selected by the intern, in conjunction with the Intern Program Officer. This option is recommended because it allows students to have the benefit of the entire workshop and seminar series, planned for both semesters. It also allows students assisting with long-term projects a more in-depth experience. 
    • Option 2: The one-semester, full-time format. Students participate forty hours weekly with one or two assignments. The number of assignments is dependent on department or office availability during the semester chosen. The student, in conjunction with the intern Program Officer, assists in choosing at least one of the assigned areas. (Please note that not all workshops are available in the one-semester option) 

    Qualifications for the Advanced-Level Program

    Master’s degree candidates, who have completed twelve graduate hours of academic credit, are preferred. Exceptional College seniors or four-year college graduates, whether or not currently enrolled in an academic program, are eligible to apply. College graduates should have had some previous experience in an art or museum-related organization, in lieu of graduate studies. Pre-doctoral candidates, who have had little previous museum experience, will also be considered. 

    Summer Program

    Primarily Undergraduates, Eight weeks, beginning early to mid-June, ending late July or early August. Participation is 40 hours weekly, Monday - Friday

    The Summer Program is an introduction to museum work, designed for students who have little or no previous museum experience. Instead of moving through different museum areas, interns in the Summer Program concentrate on one assigned department or office, compatible with his or her interests or career goals. 

    Qualifications for the Summer Program

    Students with a four-year college degree and undergraduate college seniors and juniors (students completing their sophomore year at the time of application) may apply. Graduate students will be considered for this program on an individual basis. Please note that an overview of all museum departments is not possible during the short duration of the Summer Program. 

    Programs Available to International Students

    International students with current visas, who are living in the U.S. at the time of application, are welcome to apply to either the Summer Program or the Advanced-Level program. 

    For International students living outside the U.S., insufficient time is available for visa arrangements prior to the beginning of the Summer Program. In addition, the Advanced-Level program is considered the most advantageous for International students because it provides more time for both training and cultural enrichment opportunities. 

    Internship Placements

    All internship placements for both the Advanced-Level and the Summer Programs internships are made by the Intern Program Officer, based on project availability and the individual’s qualifications and interests. Interns do not create nor bring with them projects on topics unrelated to the museum's schedule.

    Internships in the Conservation Department are only available to students currently enrolled in a graduate-level art conservation program. Some volunteer positions are sometimes available for college graduates who have had chemistry and previous treatment experience with a qualified conservator. See also Post-Graduate Fellowships in Conservation of Museum Collections.

    Applicants may suggest assignment in one or more of the following museum areas:

    • Curatorial Office (includes the Lunder Conservation Center)
    • Development Office
    • Office of Educational Programs
    • Exhibitions Office
    • External Affairs Office (includes Public Programs and Special Events)
    • Media and Technology Office (includes the Luce Foundation Center)
    • Publications Office
    • Registrar’s Office
    • The Renwick Gallery (part of the Curatorial Office)
    • Research and Scholars Center
    • The Smithsonian American Museum and National Portrait Gallery Library

    For the Advanced-Level Program: stipends are provided to all participants through endowments established by very generous donors to the Museum's internship programs: Harry and Beverly Mandil, Jack and Margery Rachlin and Allan J. and Reda Radwan Riley. The amount of these awards may vary yearly. 

    For the Summer Program 2021: all participants will receive a $500 stipend.

    Students from all universities and colleges are eligible to earn academic credit from their home institution, in contractual arrangement with the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

    When an intern requires academic credit or graduation certification for his or her internship, the Smithsonian American Art Museum requires the home college, university or sponsoring organization to provide a facility and instruction fee payment. This payment is in recognition of the highly structured program format, facilities, staff support system, evaluations and other services being provided by the museum. The amount of this fee is a percentage of the tuition amount the student is paying to his or her home institution. If the student is receiving graduate certification as an integral part of the student's academic program, then the fee is determined by the length of the internship. For a semester-long internship, the facility and instruction fee may not be less than $1,000. 

    Students who wish to receive academic credit or certification must notify the Intern Program Officer at the time of application. Appropriate information and instructions will be provided. Approval for the Facility and Instruction fee arrangement must be obtained from a supervisory staff person in the student's academic institution prior to the commencement of the internship. Fees paid to the Smithsonian American Art Museum go directly into the Intern Program Fund account, which is used exclusively to support and maintain the high standards of these two exceptional training programs. 

    Deans and university faculty who wish to enhance their curricula with one or both of the Museum's two internship programs are invited to contact the Office of Intern Programs, using the contact information provided below. 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.

    Application Information for Both Programs

    There is no specific application form for these programs. Candidates applying to either or both of these programs should submit the following:
    1. A statement of purpose, explaining personal career interests, what skills he or she hopes to acquire and why the Smithsonian American Art Museum has been chosen as a learning center.
    2. A résumé of relevant academic coursework and work experience (a curriculum vitae will also be accepted).
    3. Official or unofficial transcripts from all schools attended above the high school level.
    4. Three current letters of recommendation (academic and/or professional).

    These materials may be sent either as a package from the applicant or as individual documents from the applicant, his or her university or from selected recommenders. All application materials (statement, resume, transcripts, and recommendations) should be emailed directly to the Intern Program Officer using or

    Application materials emailed later than the required deadline dates will be wait-listed.


    Application deadlines for both programs:

    For the Summer Program: the deadline is FEBRUARY 15 EACH YEAR

    For the Advanced-Level Program: the deadline is JUNE 15 EACH YEAR

    After the deadline date, all applicants will be contacted by email to verify that their application materials have been received. The Intern Program Officer and department supervisors review the applications. Summer Program applicants will receive notice of their application status around mid to-late March and Advanced Level program applicants will receive notice of their status around mid June.



    For questions, please contact Judith Houston Hollomon, Intern Program Officer by email: or by telephone: (202) 633-8355