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John Wilmerding Internships, 2023–2024

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 opportunities to work on projects directed by professional staff at the National Gallery. Weekly museum seminars introduce interns to the broad spectrum of museum work and to National Gallery staff, departments, programs, and functions. Interns learn about the National Gallery’s collection and build upon their research and public-speaking skills by developing and presenting live art talks. Interns also 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.

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
  • 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.


Candidates who have an undergraduate degree or will have one by Spring 2023 are welcome to apply, as are those who have enrolled in a graduate program or graduated from it. Candidates who are people of color, LGBTQ+, bilingual or multilingual, and individuals with disabilities are encouraged to apply.


Interns work a hybrid schedule, 40 hours per week, from Monday, September 18, 2023, to Friday, May 10, 2024. 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 on-site but may work more. Interns receive a stipend of approximately $29,131 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.

To the extent the internship involves the interns’ presence on National Gallery premises, interns agree to comply with all National Gallery guidelines, requests, or policies, including but not limited to those related to public health.

Application Timeline and Procedures 

Deadline: February 1, 2023
All application materials must be submitted online, in English, through our portal by February 1, 2023. Applications or related materials submitted via email, postal mail, in person, or through any application portal other than the one on the National Gallery’s official website are not accepted.

The online application requires:

  • A personal statement (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 work sample, which can be an academic paper (no more than 20 pages including footnotes or endnotes, bibliography, and images). Additional options include other writing samples (for example, blog posts, teaching resources), project portfolios, and videos. An academic paper works best for a research position.
  • A résumé or 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 1, 2023, 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 current or former instructors to look over your personal statement. If you are unsure about how to write a personal statement or are uncertain which work sample to submit, consider contacting the career services center at your college or university for guidance.

Early March 2023
Interviews of finalists are tentatively scheduled for early March 2023. 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.

Late March 2023
Final selection of interns.

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.

Archives: Index of American Design

The Index of American Design (IAD) (1935–1942) was a program under the Works Progress Administration (WPA) that sought to (1) employ and maintain the skills of 1,200 artists during the Depression years; (2) preserve America’s artistic and cultural heritage by documenting the development of arts and crafts in different parts of the country; and (3) create a series of portfolios from the Index watercolor renderings that would serve as a permanent guide for artists, scholars, and the public. The National Gallery of Art Archives maintains a significant collection of records associated with IAD, and substantial work is required to make these assets discoverable, accessible, and linked to their respective accessioned objects in the National Gallery’s department of modern prints and drawings (CG-MPD). The intern works with archives staff to further arrange and digitize core materials, rehouse selected series and subseries of records for long-term preservation, and work with colleagues in CG-MPD to enhance the connectivity between the IAD accessioned objects and their records in the archives. This work offers a graduate student in art history, material culture, archives, or information studies an exceptional set of hands-on experiences with primary source materials upon which our understanding of 18th- and 19th-century American folk and decorative arts is based. The intern should have at least one year of graduate education, and experience using primary source materials (archives and manuscripts). Skills include scrupulous attention to detail, making spreadsheets, and data/metadata entry work. Experience with the web-based collection management system TMS (The Museum System) is a plus.

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 of the artist’s 2,600 plus works on paper. The exhibition, scheduled to open in Washington in November 2023, brings together 100 of Rothko’s most compelling paintings on paper, tracing the important role that paper played in his broader output. The intern assists in all aspects of the exhibition’s final preparations as well as programming during its run in Washington, working collaboratively with colleagues in curatorial, design, publishing, and education departments. The intern also contributes to ongoing research and production of the online catalogue raisonné. Duties may include conducting research on the provenance, exhibition history, and bibliography of individual works, their subjects, iconography, and facture, as well as relevant thematic topics, and Rothko’s biography. The intern may draft brief texts for publication on the catalogue raisonné site and may also assist with tasks related to the design, structure, and production of the digital resource and its content (researching, fact checking, and editing). 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 farther afield to view works being considered for inclusion in the catalogue raisonné or to consult relevant collections or archives. Those with specialized knowledge and coursework in 20th-century American art history are encouraged to apply, particularly at the graduate level.

Apply Online

Curatorial: Documentary—American Photography in the 1970s

An exhibition drawn from the National Gallery’s permanent collection, Documentary: American Photography in the 1970s examines the diverse and compelling responses by artists who opened documentary photography to a profusion of new strategies and subjects during a decade marked by social and political upheaval. The exhibition, scheduled for 2024 or 2025, provides visitors with a visually dynamic and thought-provoking introduction to the different modes of documentary photography being produced in the United States during the 1970s, including powerful pictures of community self-representation and activism, artistic expressions of self-identity and daily life, and environmentally concerned records of the landscape. Exhibition planning and organizing are central to curatorial work and the intern shall actively assist in the entire exhibition process. Tasks include creating research files on specific artworks in the exhibition, drafting wall labels, attending meetings to discuss matting and framing of artworks and exhibition layout, and collecting research for and helping design online and educational materials. The intern shall also assist in other central curatorial activities, including the processes that support collection management and art acquisition. (For this exhibition, the department of photographs anticipates acquiring a small group of pictures by Latinx photographers working during the 1970s.) Those tasks include conducting research for acquisition documentation, writing visual description labels for new acquisitions, and cataloging photographs using the web-based collection management system TMS (The Museum System). Important skills include art-historical research and writing skills (a bachelor’s or master’s degree and the ability to write in English) and familiarity with post–World War II art history or the history of photography.

Apply Online

Digital Interpretation: Audience-Centered Digital Engagement

The interpretation department is responsible for developing audience-centered interpretive experiences that foster engagement with and understanding of the museum’s collections and exhibitions. Interpretation staff work collaboratively with colleagues in the digital experience division to create online content, in-gallery interactives, immersive installations, and more. The department of interpretation seeks a creative and motivated intern to support a variety of digital projects aimed at enhancing visitor engagement around the permanent collection and a forthcoming exhibition. The intern contributes to the development of an in-gallery digital experience that serves as a complement to a major 2024 exhibition. The intern works closely with the interpretive lead on the project and interfaces with a range of colleagues from the digital experience division. In addition, the intern assists on a range of initiatives that enhance engagement with permanent collection objects online and create new pathways of discovery that resonate with general audiences. The candidate should possess a basic understanding of museum education practices, web accessibility, and user experience design with an enthusiasm for learning more. Other desired skills include attention to detail, excellent written and verbal communication skills, experience writing for general museum audiences, and ability to work in a collaborative team environment.

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.