Please note: Spring 2022 internships will be remote. We are still deciding whether or not Summer 2022 internships will be in person, remote or a combination of both. Thank you for your patience!

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 that are accepted into the program!

Internship Availability

* Winter/Spring 2022

Deadline has been extended to November 20, 2021; intern start dates in January 2022. 
All internships will be remote.
View Winter/Spring 2022 Internships on the tab below.

* Summer 2022

Deadline is April 2, 2022; intern start date in June 2022.
Summer projects have not yet been determined. Please check back i March 2022.
In-person or remote internship status still TBD.

* Fall 2022​

Deadline is July 15, 2022; intern start date in September 2022.
Fall projects have not yet been determined. Please check back in May 2022.


Please note: Spring 2022 internships will be remote. We are still deciding whether or not Summer 2022 internships will be in person, remote or a combination of both. Thank you for your patience!

Please apply using the Smithsonian online application system at:

Internship application deadlines:

  • Internship application deadlines:

  • Summer 2022: April 2, 2022
  • Fall 2022: July 15, 2022
  • Winter/Spring 2023: November 10, 2022

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.


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.

History Intern (History of Science)

The intern will contribute to research and writing projects related to individuals from the history of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) for the History Department at the National Portrait Gallery. Much of the intern’s responsibilities will support planned exhibitions related to the history of science and art, including one in-person exhibition on key figures from the history of environmentalism in the United States and two online exhibitions focused on nineteenth-century inventors. The intern’s duties may include conducting research on the biographies of individuals who have made significant contributions to STEM fields, assembling reference materials and maintaining bibliographies, and drafting content for two online exhibitions.

This internship with require demonstration of the following skill sets:
• Ability to conduct historical research using primary-source materials and scholarly resources available online (peer-reviewed journal articles, scholarly research databases, etc.)
• Accuracy and attention to detail in documenting information; strong writing and communication skills
• Ability to execute responsibilities independently and to meet deadlines
• Curiosity to learn about both well-known and underrecognized figures and events from the past
• Experience with Microsoft Office applications (Word, Excel, PowerPoint)
• Interest in learning about museum careers by attending department meetings and taking part in any relevant SI-wide internship activities and workshops

Preference given to advanced undergraduates, college graduates, and those with some graduate-level
coursework. The ideal candidate would have a demonstrated interest in the history of art, the history of
science, and/or the history of the United States during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Learning Objectives
This internship will provide an excellent opportunity to conduct high-level historical and object-based research and to assist with the development of exhibition content for a prestigious museum. The intern will cultivate valuable organizational and communication skills and will gain experience that will help prepare them for a career in museums or public history.

Winter/Spring 2022

Department of Painting and Sculpture and Department of Photographs Curatorial Research Intern

The curatorial research intern will work on research and writing projects in the Portrait Gallery’s collection, as well as conduct research on possible acquisitions and upcoming exhibitions. These duties may include updating research files on individual subjects and artists, assembling reference materials, maintaining bibliographies and chronologies, and conducting research on selected topics. They may help with research related to recent acquisitions in both the Department of Photographs and the Department of Painting and Sculpture. They may also help with administrative tasks and research for programming related to upcoming exhibitions of contemporary art.

An intern should have a sound academic background in the history of contemporary art, preferably photography and/or painting and sculpture; strong research and writing skills; and basic computer and image management skills.

Preference given to college graduates and those with some graduate-level work, as well as those with intermediate or above Spanish-language skills.

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 conducting art historical and object-based research, as well as a combination of skills in image organizing, cataloguing, and writing.

Winter/Spring 2022

Audience Engagement Department, Publications Intern

The internship will provide an excellent opportunity to learn about museum publishing. Working closely with the National Portrait Gallery’s head of publications and the museum’s editor, the intern will sharpen their editorial and research skills while reviewing a variety of written materials produced by museum staff and outside authors. Tasks can be carried out in person or remotely, as circumstances permit.

In addition to having excellent writing and research skills, the intern should have completed college-level coursework in art history and/or the history of the United States. Experience with Microsoft Office applications (Word, PowerPoint, Excel) is important. The ideal candidate believes that words matter and is someone with interests in portraiture and publishing.

Preference will be given to undergraduates, recent college graduates, or graduate students with relevant coursework (e.g., English, art history, U.S. history). Proficiency in Spanish is a plus.

Learning Objectives
There will be opportunities to edit, proofread, fact check, and conduct object-based research for museum publications (print and digital) and exhibition texts (e.g., object labels and wall texts). The intern will become familiar with the museum’s style guide (based on The Chicago Manual of Style), and they may be asked to review press materials, event calendars, newsletters, fundraising documents, or other texts that are edited by the Publications department. While gaining valuable editorial experience in a museum setting, the intern will also become familiar with the National Portrait Gallery’s collection and the biographies of the sitters it represents.

Winter/Spring 2022

Communications Department Intern

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 virtual public programs. These skills can then be transferred to other public affairs internships or positions in any industry or can be applied to other content-based positions in the museum industry.

Excellent interpersonal skills. Strong writing and copyediting skills are essential, along with an interest in media. Ability to work in a 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. Advanced college undergraduates or college graduates preferred.

Familiarity with design platforms, such as Canva or Adobe Creative Suite, and media databases, such as Meltwater. Spanish language skills.

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.

Winter/Spring 2022