Are you seeking a creative and exciting museum internship? The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery offers formal internships to qualified applicants. A Smithsonian internship is a prearranged, structured learning experience that takes place during the fall, spring, or summer semester. The experience should be relevant both to the intern's academic and professional goals and to the professional disciplines represented at the Portrait Gallery. Generous stipends are awarded to candidates who are accepted into the program!

Internship Availability:

Summer 2024

Internship application deadlines for summer 2024 at the National Portrait Gallery is March 8, at 11:55pm. Applications must be complete with all required documents in order to be reviewed. 

Please apply using the Smithsonian online application system at:

Internship application guidelines

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 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.
  • Please inform your recommenders that you are applying for an internship at the National Portrait Gallery. When you use the option to have emails sent to your recommenders, tell them that the email from the SOLAA system may be in their spam/junk mailboxes due to your school’s rules for outside emails. Recommenders should look out for an email from


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.


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.


Office of the Registrar: In-Person

The Office of the Registrar is responsible for the care, tracking, and transport of the permanent collection and objects on loan for exhibitions; creating and maintaining accession files; and the management of the museum’s collections information database, The Museum System (TMS). The internship will provide an excellent opportunity to gain experience in collections management, museum registration, and collections information standards. The majority of the internship will be in-person, with periodic opportunities for remote work.

Expectations: The intern should have a serious interest in museum collections management, be detail-oriented, and have sound written and oral communication skills.  The intern should also be able to be on their feet for extended periods of time, have fine manual dexterity skills, and be able to lift 30 lbs.

Preferred Preference will be given to undergraduates, graduate students, and recent graduates with relevant coursework or experience (e.g, museum studies, U.S. history, art history, studio art).

Learning Objectives: The intern will gain skills in proper object handling and storage, object examination and documentation, and tracking. The intern will also gain experience with museum registration principles and methods and collections information management.

Term: Summer 2024

History and Publications: In-Person 

The History and Publications intern will conduct research related to the America’s Presidents exhibition and work on publications-related tasks, such as fact-checking,  editing, and proofreading. These duties may include compiling presidential speeches; updating labels, which includes providing with comprehensive citations; and reviewing newsletters and other marketing content.  

Expectations: An intern should have a sound academic background in history and/or art history; strong research and writing skills; and basic computer and image management skills. Familiarity with Microsoft Office Word is essential.  

Preferred Preference will be given to history, public history, and/or art history majors. 

Learning Objectives: This internship will provide an excellent opportunity to gain experience in a fast-paced work environment at a prestigious museum and will offer valuable preparation for future careers in museums or other arts organizations. The intern will refine their skills in research and editing, which will be useful in many different educational and professional settings.  

Term: Summer 2024 

Communications: Hybrid

The Communications intern will have an opportunity to contribute to the Portrait Gallery's Audience Engagement team through the lens of public affairs. The intern will learn valuable skills, including drafting press releases, marketing materials, and social media content; researching media contacts; tracking media coverage; compiling clipping reports; and escorting film and camera crews. The intern's tasks will contribute to the general promotion of the museum's fall exhibition season and public programs. These skills can then be transferred to other public affairs internships or positions in any industry, or they can be applied to other content-based positions in the museum industry.

Expectations: Excellent interpersonal skills. Strong writing and copy-editing skills are essential. Interest in media. Ability to work in fast-paced environment with attention to detail and accuracy both independently and on a team. Demonstrated ability to think creatively and iteratively to solve problems. Proficiency in Adobe Creative Suite is a plus

Preferred Preference will be given to communications, public relations, and/or marketing majors.

Learning Objectives: This internship will provide an excellent opportunity to gain experience in a fast-paced work environment at a prestigious museum and will help prepare the intern for a career in public affairs and/or the cultural sector. 


  • Track coverage on a daily basis 
  • Update master press lists and Meltwater lists
  • Create recap reports 
  • Contact/media research and help create pitch lists
  • Staffing and set up at press events
  • Assist with film and media interview requests on site
  • Draft media advisories, press releases, and pitches
  • Own/create the media calendar
  • Post media calendar programs to D.C. event listings 
  • Help create marketing rack cards
  • Assist with the Kids & Families newsletter
  • Assist with social media graphics and research
  • Other projects may include market research, photography, and more

Term: Summer 2024

Education and Public Programs: Hybrid

The Education and Public Programs intern will work on a wide variety of projects across the department. Duties during this internship include writing lesson plans in conjunction with the PORTRAITS podcast; assisting with the Portrait Gallery's two Summer Teacher Institutes; assisting with the development of both the Teen Museum Council schedule for the 2024–25 academic year and the docent training schedule for fall 2024; researching portraits for student programs subjects; and assisting with the development of a program for young people who are neurodivergent.

Expectations: An intern should have a sound academic background in history, art, and principles of education; strong research and writing skills; interpersonal and public speaking skills; and basic computer skills.

Preferred Preference will be given to history and/or education majors. 

Learning Objectives: This internship will provide an excellent opportunity to gain experience in a fast-paced work environment at a prestigious museum and will offer valuable preparation for future careers in museums or other arts organizations. The intern will gain experience in working with a variety of museum audiences, skill in object- and inquiry-based learning, and conducting art historical and object-based research. 

Term: Summer 2024

Curatorial Research Internship, Prints and Drawings: Hybrid

The intern will carry out foundational historical and biographical research on a large collection of wood engravings published in Harper’s Weekly magazine from 1861 to 1881. The intern will generate research files with information and bibliography documenting the individuals and incidents depicted in each engraving. In addition to this principal project, the intern will gain experience in a range of day-to-day curatorial activities, which may include examining works intended for exhibition with the curator and paper conservator; cataloging recent acquisitions for input into the collection database (The Museum System or TMS); and conducting research on potential acquisitions.

Expectations: This internship will require demonstration of the following skill sets:

  • Interest in learning about the history of the United States during the late nineteenth century
  • Ability to conduct independent historical research using primary sources as well as peer-reviewed journal articles and other scholarly resources available online
  • Accuracy and attention to detail in documenting information
  • Experience with Microsoft Office applications (Excel, Word, PowerPoint)

Preferred Preference: This internship is best suited to a graduate or undergraduate student specializing in history and/or art history.

Learning Objectives: This internship will provide an excellent opportunity to learn how curators research and assess new acquisitions for museum collections. Working closely with the department curator, the intern will gain experience in conducting in-depth historical research commensurate with an advanced undergraduate or graduate level of academic work. The intern will gain firsthand experience in interrogating works of art as historical documents and an understanding of the role of printing technology in democratizing portraiture and documenting events and people of note. The intern will gain experience in cataloging works of art and in honing the language of visual analysis and description.

Term: Summer 2024