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The Smithsonian NMAAHC Andrew W. Mellon Curatorial Fellowship Program

Eligibility and Application Process

Background Investigation

A fellowship appointment is conditional, subject to your successful completion of a pre-appointment background investigation for a non-critical, sensitive position.

Application Deadlines

Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis for a start date of June 1 of each year; however, applications should reach us no later than February 15 for a start date of June 1. Change in the start date is possible upon approval of the Chief Curator, NMAAHC.

How to Apply

Please apply using the Smithsonian online application system (SOLAA). Paper applications will not be considered

  • Only U.S. Citizens and U.S. Permanent Residents
  • A cumulative GPA of 3.0
  • Current or recent graduates of Doctoral or Master of Arts and Sciences degrees at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) or other institutions, who have an evident interest in the curatorship of African American heritage

A completed application packet will consist of the following:

  • Application form: available at Smithsonian online application system
  • Research proposal of no more than 1500 words with an abstract of 150 words. Please indicate in the proposal as to how you will utilize the collections of the museum to pursue curatorial studies. You will find a listing of our current collections on our website. NMAAHC’s special exhibitions are on view at the National Museum of American History and virtual viewings are available on our website. You are welcome to speak about your current research in the context of our collections/exhibitions and how these will assist you in the understanding and learning of the various aspects of curating in a museum. For more clarification, please review the proposed learning objectives of the Mellon Curatorial Fellowship. Those proposals that are purely research oriented in terms of utilizing the fellowship to complete a current degree (Master’s or Ph.D.) will be less competitive.
  • Bibliography of literature relevant to the proposed research
  • Listing of any previous curatorial or museum experience
  • Resume
  • Academic transcripts, current or immediate last (unofficial are acceptable)
  • Three letters of reference
Essential Tips for the Online Application:
  • Do NOT submit your application until all necessary components are uploaded (i.e. transcripts, personal essay, resume). Once submitted you cannot upload or change anything within the application.
  • An unofficial or official transcript can be uploaded by first scanning the document and saving it as a .pdf or .jpeg. Please do not mail the transcript separately.
  • Make sure that you click the "Send Email" button. This triggers the system to email those listed as your references with instructions for uploading the reference letter. Please advise them of the process.

The Smithsonian is an EEO employer.