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The Andrew W. Mellon Summer Academy and Undergraduate Curatorial Fellowship Program

Program Overview

The Andrew W. Mellon Undergraduate Curatorial Fellowship Program provides specialized training in the curatorial field for students across the United States from diverse backgrounds. The program aims to make a critical impact on American art museums by expanding the diversity of their curatorial staff and developing gifted curators who are committed to engaging with the full spectrum of museum audiences.  In July 2015, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation published a report, Art Museum Staff Demographic Survey, which addresses the pilot phase of this program in more detail.

The program is being implemented at six partnering institutions.  Each museum holds a world-class, encyclopedic collection that represents the broad range of artistic production across history and around the globe.

  • Art Institute of Chicago (AIC)
  • High Museum of Art, Atlanta (High)
  • Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)
  • Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH)
  • Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City (NAMA)
  • Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA).  

Applications for the Summer Academy are due by Thursday, January 31, 2019.

The program is organized around two components: the Summer Academy and the Undergraduate Curatorial Fellowship Program.

Students must first apply to a Summer Academy, to be held at each of the six partner museums. Summer Academies are one-week immersion programs designed to provide a rich experience in the museum environment and expose the participants to career options related to art and art history. The Summer Academy introduces students to the many departments across the museum and its staff, with an emphasis on the curatorial field. Each Summer Academy includes workshops, tours, field trips, and networking events with museum professionals. Fifteen students will be selected to participate in the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s 2019 Summer Academy during the week of June 9-16. At the end of each Summer Academy, two participants are selected as fellows.

Fellows participate in the Andrew W. Mellon Undergraduate Curatorial Fellowship Program throughout their undergraduate career with the goal of entering into a graduate program. The two-year fellowships provide students with hands-on experience inside a museum setting, working with curators and staff on exhibitions, collections, and programs. Fellows are matched with a museum mentor/curator who works to enrich the academic experience and broaden the fellow’s understanding of art and art history. Fellowships are part-time during the academic school year and full-time during the summer at a partner museum. Fellows receive a yearly stipend of $10,000. 

This initiative is generously supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Eligibility Requirements

The program is intended specifically for undergraduate students from historically underrepresented groups in the curatorial field. Applicants should express an interest in art, art history, or the museum field. In addition to having a strong academic record, applicants should be able to demonstrate, through areas of study, extracurricular activities, background, or other experiences, how they will contribute to the program.

Who is eligible to apply?

  1. Individuals from historically underrepresented groups in the curatorial field
  2. Undergraduates currently enrolled at a university, college, or community college
  3. Undergraduates who, if selected as a fellow, can commit to two years in the program prior to graduating (typically a current freshman or sophomore student)
  4. Individuals who are eligible to work in the United States

What other qualifications are preferred?

  1. Demonstrated interest in art, art history, or the museum field
  2. Enrollment at a university, college, or community college located near a partner museum
  3. Openness to the idea of pursuing a masters or doctorate degree in the arts or museum field

Application Instructions: Students must first apply to a Summer Academy.

Please complete the following application materials by January 31, 2019.

Online Application Form

Please include your personal statement, résumé, and transcripts when you submit your application. Application materials should be submitted as PDFs.

Personal Statement

Please limit the personal statement to no more than 700 words and be sure to address the following:

  • What interests you about the Mellon Summer Academy and Undergraduate Curatorial Fellowship Program? The program, which is supported by the Mellon Foundation, aims to expand the diversity of curatorial ranks in American art museums. Do you think this is important? Please explain.
  • Describe why you consider yourself to be a student representing diversity in terms of culture, background, or experience, and why you feel committed to representing diverse perspectives. How do questions of diversity shape your academic interests?
  • Drawing on your extracurricular activities, areas of study, background, or other experiences, explain how you can contribute to the Mellon Foundation’s initiative.
  • Provide an example of an experience where you were able to offer a diverse perspective to a project, discussion, or dialogue, and explain the impact you had.


Please be sure to include relevant employment and volunteer experiences as well as computer and language skills.


Please provide unofficial transcripts for your entire undergraduate career, including the college or university you currently attend and any you may have previously attended.

One Letter of Recommendation (Emailed Separately)

Applicants must have one confidential letter of recommendation submitted by a faculty member at your college or university or a past or current employer who is familiar with your skills and abilities. The letter of recommendation must be submitted via email to by the application deadline. The recommendation must come directly from the recommender’s institutional e-mail address and should clearly indicate the applicant’s name in the subject line.

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