Skip to Content

John Wilmerding Internships, 2022–2023

The John Wilmerding Fund for Education in American Art supports two nine-month hybrid internships: one in American art and one in digital interpretation. The internships provide institutional training to students interested in pursuing a museum career. The John Wilmerding Interns work on projects directed by a National Gallery curator or department head. Biweekly museum seminars introduce interns to the broad spectrum of museum work and to National Gallery staff, departments, programs, and functions.

Interns also learn about the National Gallery’s collection and build upon their research and public-speaking skills by developing and presenting live art talks. They participate in an intensive training program to learn how to talk about works of art in a way that is relevant, engaging, and accessible to diverse audiences. Interns then develop interactive tours, from 10 to 12 minutes in length, that incorporate their own interests and backgrounds.

The internship program features:

  • Gallery talks with curators
  • Discussions with top-level administrators, including the National Gallery’s director
  • Conversations with staff from a wide variety of museum departments and with former interns
  • Behind-the-scenes tours and demonstrations
  • Presentations on the museum’s history and collection
  • An omni-directional mentorship program that builds community, exchanges support and guidance, and develops a network of museum professionals.

The John Wilmerding Internship in American Art and the John Wilmerding Internship in Digital Interpretation are made possible by a generous grant from The Walton Family Foundation.


Although students with a spring 2022 undergraduate degree are welcome to apply, preference is given to applicants who are enrolled in a graduate program or are recent MA or MFA graduates. (A degree must have been received no earlier than 2020) Candidates who are people of color, LGBTQ+, bilingual or multilingual, and individuals with disabilities are encouraged to apply.


The National Gallery requires all employees, including interns who work with us, to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 regardless of location or arrangement (e.g., onsite, remote), subject to such exemptions as required by law. If selected, you are required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and to submit proof of vaccination during onboarding.


Interns work a hybrid schedule, 40 hours per week, from Monday, September 12, 2022, to Friday, May 5, 2023. A hybrid work model incorporates a mixture of in-office and remote work in an intern’s schedule. Interns should expect to work three days a week onsite but may work more. Interns receive a stipend of approximately $26,000 that is subject to all applicable taxes. They are eligible for coverage under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program and the Federal Employees Group Life Insurance Program. Those who use an authorized method of public transportation receive an employer-provided fare subsidy to apply toward monthly transit costs.

Application Timeline and Procedures 

Deadline: February 28, 2022
All application materials must be submitted online, in English, through our portal by February 28, 2022. Applications or related materials submitted via email, postal mail, or in person are not accepted. There is no fee to apply to any of the internships.

The online application requires:

  • A letter (single-spaced, about 750 words) to the selection committee stating your reasons for participating in the museum training program at the National Gallery of Art at this point in your education or career. It should include what you hope to achieve from the experience, what you feel you can contribute to the department(s) in which you are interested, and how such an experience would further your education and career plans.
  • A writing sample (no more than 20 pages, including footnotes or endnotes, bibliography, and images). An academic paper works best for a research position.
  • A résumé or full curriculum vitae of education, professional experience, honors, awards, and publications.
  • One copy of unofficial transcripts from each undergraduate and graduate institution attended.
  • Contact information for two references. One of these references must be someone who knows you in an academic context (either a professor or instructor). After you have submitted the name, title, and email address of your references, they will automatically be emailed instructions for uploading their letters online. We strongly encourage references to submit letters in English.

The deadline for all application materials, including transcripts and letters of recommendation, is February 28, 2022, at 5:00 p.m. (EST).

We recommend that you edit and proofread your application carefully before submitting it, and perhaps ask one of your instructors or professors to look over your personal statement. If you are unsure about how to write a personal statement or are uncertain which writing sample to submit, consider contacting the career services center at your college or university for guidance.

April 4 and 5, 2022
Interviews of finalists are tentatively scheduled for April 4 and 5, 2022. Only finalists for the John Wilmerding Internships are contacted for interviews via telephone or video chat. Finalists do not need to travel to the National Gallery of Art for an interview.

April 22, 2022
Final selection of interns.

Review Process
All applications are reviewed by a selection committee composed of National Gallery staff and external specialists.

Equal Opportunity
All qualified applicants are considered for an internship without regard to race, color, sex, age, national origin, religion, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, marital status, citizenship, or any other protected status. The National Gallery of Art is committed to diversity and offers equal opportunity and treatment to all who apply.

Internship Projects

Applicants may list up to two projects, in order of preference, on the application.

Curatorial: American Art

The intern assists with research on the history of American art at the National Gallery of Art. In the years since the museum’s opening in 1941, its collection of American art has become one of the world’s most comprehensive holdings of paintings, sculptures, prints, drawings, photographs, and decorative arts. The National Gallery has also become a center for scholarship in American art through exhibitions and publications that investigate its collections and through other programs, including lectures and symposia. With the goal of thoroughly documenting the story of American art at the National Gallery, research is conducted on all aspects of acquisitions, exhibitions, publications, programs, and personnel from 1941 to the present. Recent MA graduates and current art history, history, literature, and multi-/interdisciplinary studies graduate students are encouraged to apply. Knowledge or coursework in the history of American art is preferred.

Apply Online

Curatorial: Department of Modern Prints and Drawings 

The intern assists the curator with a variety of administrative tasks and research assignments contributing to the preparation of a major retrospective exhibition of the art of Elizabeth Catlett, which is currently being organized by the National Gallery of Art and the Brooklyn Museum for 2024–2025. An avowed feminist, lifelong social and political activist, and deft formalist, Elizabeth Catlett (1915–2012) is among the most renowned women artists of the twentieth century. Although she was championed and supported by Black institutions (primarily Historically Black Colleges and Universities), collectors, artists, and curators during her lifetime, the mainstream art world has not recognized her artistic achievement equally. This retrospective will be the first truly comprehensive survey to examine the fullness of Catlett’s career, not only forefronting the prints and sculpture at the core of her artistic practice but also including rarely seen early paintings, drawings, ephemera, and other rare supporting materials.

The intern also works directly with the curators in creating and updating research files as well as in assisting in the compilation of an extensive bibliography and the development of a comprehensive artist chronology.  Other exhibition-related administrative support includes assisting with the management of a working checklist, exhibition preparation timelines, and curatorial coordination, both in-house and between the partnering institutions. Candidates with demonstrable interest or coursework in American and modern art history and/or African American studies/American studies are encouraged to apply. Experience with works on paper and with collection management databases is desirable.

Apply Online

Curatorial: Mark Rothko

The intern assists with two related projects: Mark Rothko: Paintings on Paper, an upcoming touring exhibition, and Mark Rothko: Works on Paper, the online catalogue raisonné that will ultimately document some 2,600 objects. The exhibition, scheduled to open in late 2023 in tandem with the expected completion of the online catalogue raisonné, clarifies the important role that paper played in Rothko’s broader output, including suggesting ways in which solutions found on paper affected the trajectory of his painting practice at key moments. The intern conducts research on the subject, iconography, appearance, and mode of presentation of individual works of art by Rothko and his contemporaries; related thematic topics; and Rothko’s biography.

The intern also contributes by helping to confirm the provenance, exhibition history, and bibliography of individual works; drafting brief texts for publication in the catalogue raisonné; assisting with tasks related to the production of the exhibition catalog (researching, fact checking, and editing content); and working with colleagues to develop interpretive texts and programs.

The intern uses local research collections, such as the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art and the Library of Congress. There may be opportunities to travel further afield to view works being considered for inclusion in the catalogue raisonné and/or exhibition or to consult relevant collections or archives. The intern is also involved in research and administrative projects related to the National Gallery’s collection of modern and contemporary art or other exhibitions in progress in the department. Those with specialized knowledge and coursework in twentieth-century American art history are encouraged to apply.

Apply Online

Digital/Education: Digital Interpretation and Access

The intern supports a variety of projects related to the website, editorial, social media, digital asset management system (DAMs), and the online collection while developing knowledge of digital strategy within a museum environment. Research projects range from web analytics to user testing to comparative analysis of the digital content landscape. Candidates who are comfortable in a digital environment and have some experience with content management systems are encouraged to apply. Attention to detail, interest in processes/project management and web accessibility, and curiosity about art and museum work are preferred qualities.

Apply Online

Department of Gallery and Studio Learning
Division of Education
National Gallery of Art
2000B South Club Drive
Landover, MD 20785

[email protected]
(202) 842-6257

Please do not contact Gallery curators or other department heads directly regarding possible placement or projects.

Please review a list of Frequently Asked Questions about internships.