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Smithsonian American Art Museum Research Fellowships


The museum hosts a number of fellows each year through the Smithsonian Institution Fellowship Program (SIFP), and also awards its own named fellowships to candidates from this general pool. Only one application is necessary. All candidates should apply to the (SIFP). The deadline is November 1, 2020.

Applicants must identify a member of SAAM’s research staff to serve as primary advisor in order to be in residence at this museum. They are also encouraged to notify the potential advisor in advance of their application. For assistance identifying an advisor, browse the museum’s staff listings in the Smithsonian Opportunities for Research and Study guide or contact [email protected] for consultation. Applicants to the SIFP who propose a SAAM primary advisor will automatically be considered for the museum’s named fellowships:

The Will Barnet Foundation Fellowship funds up to a full year of research on topics relating to American modern art, including its influence on later artists.

The Joe and Wanda Corn Fellowship is endowed by their former students Mike Wilkins and Sheila Duignan and supports scholars whose research interests span American art and American history. The recipient will be jointly appointed at SAAM and the National Museum of American History and will draw on the resources of both museums.

The Douglass Foundation Fellowship in American Art supports a full year of predoctoral research in American art.

The Patricia and Phillip Frost Fellowship is offered to support research in American art and visual culture.

The George Gurney Fellowship funds a six-month research appointment in American sculpture in honor of the distinguished career of SAAM’s former curator of sculpture. Residencies should take place June–December 2021 or January–August 2022. Contribute to this fund

The Joshua C. Taylor Fellowship is supported by alumni and friends in memory of the museum’s former director and founder of the fellowship program. Contribute to this fund

The Terra Foundation Fellowships in American Art foster international research on American art and visual culture prior to 1980 that relates to the collections of the Smithsonian Institution. Fellowships of three to twelve months are available at the predoctoral, postdoctoral, and senior levels to scholars from abroad who are researching American art or to US scholars with an exceptionally strong international component to their study. Distinguished recipients at the senior level are eligible for an augmented stipend of $60,000 for a twelve-month appointment.

The William H. Truettner Fellowship supports six months of research in recognition of Mr. Truettner’s career of nearly fifty years as a curator of painting and sculpture at SAAM. Residencies should take place June–December 2021 or January–August 2022. Contribute to this fund

The Windgate Foundation supports a yearlong fellowship for the study of American craft.

The Wyeth Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship is awarded for the advancement and completion of a doctoral dissertation that concerns the study, appreciation, and recognition of excellence in all aspects of American art.


PhD candidates, postdoctoral researchers, and senior scholars from any field who are pursuing research on American art are eligible to apply. Predoctoral applicants must have completed coursework and preliminary examinations for their doctoral degree and must be engaged in dissertation research. Postdoctoral fellowships are available to support specific research projects by scholars who have earned a PhD or equivalent. Senior fellowships are intended for scholars with a distinguished publication record who have held their doctoral degree for more than seven years or who possess a commensurate record of professional accomplishment.

Applications will be evaluated on the originality and quality of the proposed research project; its contribution to a more equitable and inclusive history of American art; its compatibility with Smithsonian collections, facilities, staff, and programs; and the applicant’s academic standing, scholarly qualifications, and experience. SAAM believes that recruiting and maintaining an equitable, inclusive, and diverse cohort of fellows is critical to our mission. We seek applicants with the potential to bring the critical perspective that comes from an understanding of the experiences of groups historically underrepresented in the field of American art, and welcome applications from qualified persons of color; who are Indigenous; with disabilities; who are LGBTQ; first-generation college graduates; those from low-income households; and who are veterans. The Smithsonian does not discriminate on grounds of race, color, religion, sex (including gender identity, sexual orientation, and pregnancy), national origin, age, or disability.


The stipend for a one-year fellowship is $40,000 for predoctoral scholars and $55,000 for postdoctoral and senior scholars, with an allowance of up to $4,000 available for short research trips. Additional allowances may be provided to help with temporary relocation to the Smithsonian and the cost of health insurance. Senior-level recipients of the Terra Foundation Fellowships are eligible for an augmented stipend of $60,000 for the full year. The standard term of residency is twelve months, but terms as short as three months are available with prorated stipends. All fellowships must take place between June 1, 2021, and August 31, 2022. The Smithsonian Office of International Relations will assist with arranging J-1 exchange visas for fellowship recipients who require them.


The holdings of the Smithsonian American Art Museum reveal the United States’ rich artistic and cultural history from the colonial period to today. This unparalleled collection of over 44,000 works by more than 7,000 artists includes special strengths in nineteenth- and twentieth-century sculpture, nineteenth-century landscape painting and imagery of the American West, Gilded Age and American impressionist painting, twentieth-century realism, New Deal art, photography and graphic art, self-taught art, Latinx art, work by African American artists, and time-based media. The collection is housed in a National Historic Landmark building—shared with the National Portrait Gallery (NPG) and the Archives of American Art—where the expansive holdings of the Luce Foundation Center, a three-story visible art storage facility, can be accessed on a daily basis. Contemporary American craft and decorative art are featured in the Renwick Gallery, a branch of the museum located across from the White House.

Each scholar is provided a study carrel in SAAM’s Research and Scholars Center, situated across the street from the museum. There, fellows have access to a 180,000-volume library that specializes in American art, history, and biography; the Archives of American Art; the graphics collections of SAAM and NPG; the Joseph Cornell Study Center; and the Nam June Paik Archive, as well as a variety of image collections and research databases. Located in downtown Washington, D.C., SAAM’s Research and Scholars Center is a short walk from other Smithsonian museums and libraries, the Library of Congress, the National Archives, and the National Gallery of Art. Regular lunchtime seminars, workshops, public lectures, and symposia provide a forum for lively scholarly exchange and professional advancement.


Amelia Goerlitz, Chair of Academic Programs
Telephone (202) 633-8353
Email [email protected]


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