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John Wilmerding Internships, 2021–2022

The application deadline for Internships has passed. Kindly check back in fall 2021 for information about the next application period.

The John Wilmerding Fund for Education in American Art supports two nine-month 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 Gallery curator or department head. Biweekly museum seminars introduce the interns to the broad spectrum of museum work, and to Gallery staff, departments, programs, and functions.

The internship program will feature:

  • Gallery talks with curators
  • Discussions with top-level administrators, including the Gallery’s director
  • Conversations with staff from a wide variety of museum departments and former interns
  • Behind-the-scenes tours and demonstrations
  • Presentations on the museum’s history and collection
  • Opportunity to develop and present an original talk (10–12 minutes) about an artwork in the Gallery’s collection

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 consideration will be given to students with a spring 2021 undergraduate degree, preference will be given to applicants who are enrolled in a graduate program or are recent MA or MFA graduates (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 interns are in residence at the Gallery from September 20, 2021, to May 6, 2022, and work full time. The interns receive a stipend of approximately $26,000 that is subject to all applicable taxes. The interns, using an authorized public transportation method, will receive an employer-provided fare subsidy to apply toward monthly transit costs. **Please note: Depending on the status of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, 2021–2022 academic-year internships may be virtual or hybrid (part in-person, part virtual). Any hybrid experience may be converted to virtual or postponed to ensure the safety and health of our staff and interns.**

Application Timeline and Procedures 

Deadline: February 28, 2021
By the date above, all application materials must be submitted online and in English. We will not accept applications or related materials via email, postal mail, or in person. There is no fee to apply to any of the internships.

The online application will require you to provide the following:

  • 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, including 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). Once you have submitted your references’ names, titles, and email addresses, 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, 2021, at 5:00 p.m. (EST).

We recommend that you edit your application carefully before submitting, 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 what writing sample to submit, consider contacting the career services center at your college or university for guidance.

April 5 and 6, 2021
Interviews of finalists are tentatively scheduled for the dates above. Only finalists for the John Wilmerding Internships will be contacted for interviews. You will not need to travel to the National Gallery of Art for an interview. All interviews are conducted by phone or video chat.

April 23, 2021
Final selection of interns.

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

Equal Opportunity
All qualified applicants will receive consideration for an internship, fellowship, or research assistantship 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

Curatorial: Photographs

The intern will assist with research and planning for Photography and the Black Arts Movement, 1955–1980, an upcoming exhibition organized by the National Gallery’s department of photographs. This project will document for the first time the role of African American photography across the United States in developing, fostering, and advancing a distinctly Black art and culture. Representing a uniquely American artistic endeavor closely linked to the civil rights movement, the Black Arts Movement was comparable in its creative impact to the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s. Beginning in the 1950s, Black writers, musicians, filmmakers, and visual artists banded together to explore new ways their art could be used to advance the American civil rights struggle. Working on many fronts—literature, poetry, jazz and new music, painting, sculpture, performance, film, and photography—African American artists associated with the Black Arts Movement promoted their ideas through publications, organizations, museums, galleries, community centers, theaters, street art, and emerging academic programs. From the mid-1950s through 1980, photographers and artists working primarily in other media used the camera to explore their cultural and political heritage and assist communities in the struggle for equality. Photography as an artistic practice and tool for visceral communication was vital to this movement. Using their art as a powerful tool for communicating important messages, artists played a prominent role in the call for social justice. This urgency helped spawn innovative approaches to making their art. Exhibition research will take advantage of many research collections for studying this subject, such as the Evans-Tibbs Archive at the National Gallery, the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center at Howard University, the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art, and the David C. Driskell Center at the University of Maryland. Tasks include working directly with curators to research assigned topics, including the subjects and history of specific works of art, biographies of artists, compiling bibliographies and chronologies, coordinating object lists, images, and proposals, assisting with the preparation of timelines and interpretive texts and programs, and other administrative tasks related to the exhibition. The intern may also be involved in research and administrative projects related to the Gallery’s growing collection of photographs by significant African American artists as well as the papers of photographer Robert Frank. Applicants should have specialized knowledge and coursework in 20th-century American photography, modern art history, and/or African American Studies/American Studies.

Apply Online

Digital/Education: Digital Interpretation and Access

The National Gallery of Art seeks a motivated intern with a passion for art and technology to join the Digital Interpretation team. While developing their knowledge of digital strategy within a museum environment, the intern may support a variety of projects related to the website, editorial, social media, digital asset management system (DAMs), and online collection. A research project will be determined based on the candidate’s background interests; topics range from web analytics to user testing to comparative analysis of the digital content landscape. Preferred skills include comfort in a digital environment and some experience with content management systems, attention to detail, interest in processes/project management, interest in web accessibility, and curiosity about art and museum work.

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.