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The National Portrait Gallery, as a museum of the Smithsonian Institution, offers formal internships to qualified applicants. A Smithsonian internship is a prearranged, structured learning experience that takes place within a specific time period, usually two to three months. The experience should be relevant both to the intern's academic and professional goals and to the professional disciplines represented at the Smithsonian.

Intern Positions

Various departments at the National Portrait Gallery sponsor interns throughout the year. Intern projects are based on interests and needs of the department, and are agreed upon by the mutual consent of the intern candidate and his or her supervisor.
How to Apply

Please apply using the Smithsonian online application system at

Please be aware that complete applications must include the following:

  • Internship program application form
  • Academic transcripts (unofficial are acceptable)
  • Personal essay (use this to tell us how the internship will advance your academic/career goals)
  • Two letters of reference
The application deadline for summer 2016 internships is March 1, 2016. Applications for fall, winter, and spring internships are accepted on an ongoing basis. The length of time that an applicant is available as an intern is a consideration in the evaluation of applications. Interns are encouraged to have health insurance.

Essential Tips for the Online Application

  • Do NOT submit your application until all necessary components are uploaded (i.e., transcripts, personal essay, resume). Once these are submitted, you cannot upload anything else or change anything within the application.
  • Upload your documents as a .pdf or .jpeg file. Other file formats will upload, but may not hold your formatting commands.
  • An unofficial or official transcript can be uploaded by first scanning the document and saving it as a pdf or jpeg.
  • Make sure that you click the “send e-mail” button. This triggers the system to e-mail your references with instructions to them for uploading the reference letter. Please advise your references of this in advance.

The National Portrait Gallery offers internships to undergraduate and graduate students and to individuals not affiliated with academic programs who have research or museum career interests. The availability of internships depends upon departmental projects and staff needs, as well as the background, skills, and interests of the applicant. Qualifications vary depending upon the project, but most are for upper-level undergraduate and graduate students. Please read the specific intern positions above before selecting projects on your application.

The Smithsonian does not award college credit, but many U.S. colleges and universities will recognize academic work performed while interning. Contact your academic adviser for instructions on how to receive credit.

Most NPG internships are unpaid volunteer positions. Some funded internships are available on a competitive basis through the Office of Fellowships (202-633-7070).

If you have any questions about the application process, please send inquiries to If you have questions concerning the SOLAA application, please go to the Help section on the SOLAA Web site.


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Phone: (202) 633-8508
FAX: (202) 633-8521
Mailing Address:
Office of Education
National Portrait Gallery
P.O. Box 37012
Washington, D.C. 20013-0712


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