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Art History | Internships

One of the most exciting things about studying art history at American University is the opportunity to become directly involved with art world research, exhibition production, and/or program development through internships. Virtually all museums and many galleries in Washington, as well as other cultural institutions such as the Library of Congress and the Archives of American Art, offer internship opportunities. Additionally, the American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center offers internship possibilities right here on campus.

Most internships are unpaid and require 16 to 20 hours of work per week. 

These include both summer internships and semester or academic year programs; some are highly competitive and most are unpaid, but they offer unparalleled chances to get to know curators and other museum staff and to gain significant experience in working within museum and gallery settings. Internships allow participants to gain experience of varied facets of museum and gallery work, including exhibition research, curatorial activities (usually limited), public education, exhibition production, and development projects. Larger institutions such as the National Gallery of Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the National Museum of Women in the Arts, and the National Portrait Gallery usually provide weekly information sessions about the various departments and museum life.

You may take one unpaid internship for academic credit (3 hours). 

This involves keeping a journal in which you discuss your experiences and completing an annotated bibliography and a research paper as you would for a regular course. Museum internship application deadlines are usually at least six months in advance of the semester or summer when you would like to work. See Professor Juliet Bellow about specific internship opportunities. We have put together a booklet of various local and some national internship options, which is available in the Visual Resources Center. You can also consult local and national museum and gallery web pages for more information, application forms, etc.

Hirshhorn Internship

Second-year master’s student Emily McAlpine gained curatorial experience with a Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden internship.

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