Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden Library: Modern and Contemporary Art, A to Z Internship

This internship program is on hold during 2024.

The Smithsonian Libraries and Archives' Art & Artists’ Files are an exceptional resource for art historical research. Researchers rely on artist files to establish chronologies, flesh out exhibition histories, review stylistic developments, and assess the critical reception of artists over time. These valued and heavily used resources contain items of an ephemeral nature such as small catalogs, brochures, and announcements, many including illustrations. Often these files are the only obtainable sources of critical documentation about well-established artists, as well as lesser-known, emerging, and regional artists. The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden Library holds more than 41 file drawers on over 2,000 artists, art institutions, and collectors of modern and contemporary art.

Through this project, an intern will learn how to evaluate the existing folder content for retention and deaccession; update the physical housing of the collection to current archival standards; reorganize and relabel folder content according to best practices established by the Art Libraries Society of North America’s Artist File Special Interest Group; and reconcile collection holdings in the Smithsonian Libraries’ Art & Artist Files Database. The intern will have the opportunity to develop at least one social media story and blog post to highlight the collection, the content of which could be focused on one or more objects or artists, or thematic.

This is a part-time (approximately 16 hours per week), on-site internship for eight weeks. The intern is eligible for a stipend of $280/week. Appointment dates are flexible but a June start date is encouraged.

For Summer 2023, the application deadline is February 13th, 2023. 


This program is geared towards students who are enrolled in a college undergraduate or graduate program. Candidates who are not students should be prepared to describe how this opportunity will enhance their educational background. The ideal candidate will be an undergraduate or graduate student studying art history, art, library science, or archival studies. Some prior knowledge of the major movements in 20th and 21st century art is preferred. The ability to focus on detailed work and perform fine motor skills is necessary.

Students and graduates from Minority Serving Institutions (MSI) of higher education such as Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU), Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSI), Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCU), and Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions (AANAPISI) are encouraged to apply to this program. In addition, Smithsonian Libraries and Archives welcomes students from community college programs.

Selection Criteria:

Through their application materials, including a resume and essay, candidates should be sure to demonstrate the following:

  • Interest in learning about libraries, archives, and museums, particularly as it relates to their selected project areas.
  • How the candidate’s background and experiences have prepared them for this opportunity.
  • How this opportunity will enhance the student’s learning or contribute to their future career goals.

Application Instructions

Applications must be submitted through the Smithsonian Online Academic Appointments system (SOLAA). Applicants should select “Smithsonian Libraries and Archives” as the unit and the “Smithsonian Libraries and Archives HMSG Modern Art Internship” program. 

The following items must be included and uploaded into the SOLAA system as part of your application:

  • Essay of 500 to 1,000 words describing your learning objectives, qualifications, and career aspirations and how they relate to this internship.
  • Transcripts from all post-secondary schools attended. Unofficial transcripts may be uploaded into SOLAA. Do not mail physical copies.
  • CV/Resume
  • Contacts for two professional or academic recommendations. The candidate inputs names and emails into the SOLAA application system. References are automatically sent an electronic survey and have an opportunity to upload a traditional reference letter. Candidate should be sure to communicate this process to their references and input email addresses accurately.

The Smithsonian is committed to ensuring that all employees and affiliated persons (including interns) are treated equitably in an environment that is free from discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex (including gender identity, gender stereotyping, pregnancy, and sexual orientation), national origin, age, disability, genetic information, parental status or marital status. All personnel practices, including the selection of interns, must comply with this policy.

For Summer 2023, the application deadline is February 13th, 2023. Applicants will be updated of their status by late March.

General Information about Smithsonian Libraries and Archives Internships