Many Art History majors and minors choose to undertake internships during the academic year. These programs can provide valuable experience for students wishing to pursue a career in the arts. Internships that meet prior departmental approval may be undertaken for course credit by enrolling in ARTH 470: Museum Internship. The departmental internship advisor is Prof. Prelinger.
Download the Internship Proposal Form here (new window).
Who can register for ARTH 470, and when?
Art History majors or minors who have already completed three courses (9 credit hours) within the Art History program may elect one Museum Internship (ARTH 470) for 3 credit hours taken in the fall or spring semester for credit toward the major or minor. ARTH 470 is not offered during the summer. In view of these and other requirements (see below), note that many students choose to do excellent art history related internships without seeking course credit for them.
How is ARTH 470 counted within the Art History major and minor?
An approved museum internship may fulfill one of the three advanced-level courses required for Art History majors, or one of the six courses for the Art History minor. If ARTH 470 is counted among the advanced courses for the major, the other two must be seminars within the Department.
How do I register for ARTH 470?
A student can register for ARTH 470 only after the departmental internship advisor has approved the specific internship. This means that the internship must be arranged before or at the beginning of the semester. Having been (at least tentatively) offered the internship, with a written understanding of its parameters (including duties, number of hours per week, supervisor, etc. – see the Internship Proposal Form), the student meets with the departmental internship advisor for discussion and approval. Approval by the advisor is followed by approval of the Chair of the Department of Art and Art History.
How does the internship work?
While the nature of your work can vary greatly (curatorial, museum education, office of development, research, etc.), the internship must be under the supervision of a curator or other regular staff member. It must include a tangible project comparable in scope to a paper for a 400-level art history class. Internships approved for ARTH 470 typically require at least 10-12 hours per week of on-site experience.
Please note that the Department of Art and Art History is not able to provide financial support to undergraduate students holding off-campus internships or pay museums, institutions, or galleries that seek funds to support undergraduate internships.
In addition to work on the internship itself, the student will meet several times during the semester with the departmental internship advisor. These meetings, which often include one or more other students undertaking Art History internships, entail discussion of progress, challenges and opportunities, and occasional brief readings.
The departmental internship advisor is Prof. Prelinger. Please note, however, that depending upon the nature of the internship, a different faculty member may be requested or recommended. Please fill out the Internship Proposal Form (available for download above) and bring it to your meeting with the departmental internship advisor.
How is the internship evaluated?
A final grade is assigned by the departmental internship advisor, based on:
- A confidential report submitted to the departmental internship advisor by the on-site internship supervisor. The departmental internship advisor will send the required paperwork directly to the on-site internship supervisor before the end of the semester.
- The departmental internship advisor’s own assessment of the student’s work on the project. This is determined by evaluation of 1) the supervisor’s report, 2) the departmental advisor’s own meetings with the student, and 3) a brief (no more than 10-page) written assignment due at the end of term, the scope of which will be determined in advance by the departmental advisor. This is often a critical reflection on the internship experience and project, though the student and advisor often define a more specific question or approach for this concluding assignment.
How do I find an internship?
Internships for art history students fall into two basic categories:
- Those offered by an institution (typically one of the major museums, such as the National Gallery of Art, the Smithsonian museums, etc.) within an established system and schedule of application, review, and fulfillment of the internship. Note that while many of these are available during fall or spring semester, many others are for summer months, which means they are not eligible for credit under ARTH 470. These internships are explained on the websites of the individual institutions. Deadlines for application typically fall at least several months before the start date, so interested students are strongly encouraged to explore them early (e.g. while a junior if considering an internship during the senior year).
- Those arranged more informally, typically after a student has made contact with a museum, gallery, or other suitable organization. While these internships often prove to be at least as productive and enlightening as the more established ones, it is especially important to secure a clear understanding and description of their expectations and parameters at the outset.