Part-Time Summer Internship Program

The RISD Museum’s Mellon summer internship program introduces students to museum work and offers in-depth experience working in a specific department of the RISD Museum. Interns contribute to departmental projects with Museum staff as supervisors. As a cohort, interns discuss museum practice, build professional skills for working in the arts, and learn about how museums live up to their missions. This is designed as an introductory experience for students without prior experience or access to similar opportunities.

Planning to apply? Drop by virtual office hours on Monday, January 9, 12-1 pm or Tuesday, January 17, 6-7 pm to ask questions and get advice on your application.

Program Details

Applicants should have a strong interest in museum work and the topics related to the specific internship projects, but no previous museum experience or academic background in art history is necessary. This program is open to currently enrolled college and university undergraduate and graduate students; students graduating in the 2022-23 academic year are also eligible. Students who are not U.S. citizens are welcome to apply for the internship if they have a visa that is valid for the entire internship program (through mid-August 2023).

The ten-week internships begin on June 5 and end on August 11, 2023. Interns are expected to work for 20 hours a week. Participation in group seminars and workshops focusing on museum studies and professional practice is included in these weekly hours. Interns will develop an independent project related to their interests alongside these seminar sessions and at the end of the program, each intern will publicly reflect on their experience and share their work. Browse former interns’ perspectives on the collection here. Interns will receive a $4,000 honorarium. A limited amount of funding is available for travel assistance and may be awarded to accepted students who would not otherwise be able to take advantage of this opportunity.

The deadline for submitting applications is Friday, January 27, 2023, at 11:59 pm. Selected candidates will be interviewed in March and all applicants will be notified by the end of that month. Questions should be addressed to

Participants may arrange for academic credit for the internship through their college or university. To do so, they will need to fulfill the number of hours required for credit at their home institutions and any additional requirements, such as paper assignments, to qualify for that credit. Museum staff will provide supervision for such assignments as well as letters of support verifying the student’s participation in the internship program.

The Mellon Summer Internship Program at the RISD Museum is made possible by an endowment from the Mellon Foundation.


Positions for 2023

Collection Information and Digital Asset Management Internship
The Collection Information and Digital Asset Management intern will learn how the museum's digital assets are organized and managed using two databases: the Collection Management System, which houses data about objects and events, and the Digital Asset Management System, which houses images and videos of objects and events. The intern will work directly with registrars who administer each system, gaining hands-on experience building database records and then importing, updating, and linking assets to those records. A successful candidate is detail oriented, possesses computer fluency (and interest), and has excellent organizational skills.

Creative Production Internship
The Creative Production intern will work collaboratively to create digital and online content related to the Museum’s collection. The intern will work directly with the Digital Initiatives team on aspects of digital interpretation, including audio and video production. As collaborations between curators and educators, these projects offer lively content and accessible learning opportunities for a varied public. Skills required include a working knowledge of the Adobe Creative Suite, including Premiere and Audition.

Curatorial Internships
Each curatorial intern will assist a curator or curatorial team with tasks related to researching and interpreting works of art and design, which may in some cases be associated with upcoming exhibitions or prospective additions to the collection. The intern will also assist with ongoing collection management. This may include taking inventories of objects, confirming descriptions and measurements, and entering and updating data in the Museum’s internal database system. The intern will gain an understanding of managing a collection area in a museum and will be introduced to writing about objects for platforms such as in-gallery texts and scholarly publications. Strong candidates will be detail oriented and will possess good organizational and research skills.

Curatorial Internship: Contemporary Art
The Contemporary Art department oversees works in painting, sculpture, video, sound, and installation created after 1960. Tasks will include preparing research for the presentation of works from the collection, for future acquisitions to the collection, and for temporary exhibitions.

​​Curatorial Internship: Prints, Drawings, and Photographs
The Prints, Drawings, and Photographs department oversees works on paper, ranging from Medieval manuscripts to contemporary photography. Tasks will include an emphasis on collection management, including storage reorganization and cataloging.

Curatorial and Conservation Internship: Costume & Textiles
The Costume and Textiles collection contains more than 30,000 objects and includes textiles, clothing, and fashion items from 1500 BCE to the present. The intern will straddle curatorial and conservation roles, assisting staff with caring for the collection. Tasks will include moving and rehousing garments in storage, researching historical context to add information to object files, as well as closely examining objects, and compiling condition reports to document damages. Strong candidates will be curious researchers with an interest in the care of museum collections; some familiarity with the history of costume and textiles is preferred.

Education Internship: School & Teacher Programs
The School and Teacher Programs intern will conduct research and assist in the development of teaching materials for educators working with K-12 students and teachers on guided museum and classroom visits and professional development workshops. The intern will gather relevant materials from curatorial departments on a selection of key Museum objects. Strong candidates will have an interest in art historical research and K-12 teaching, writing skills, and an interest in the subject matter

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the seminars? 
Seminar sessions focus on topics in contemporary museum practice, with the goal of providing a big-picture introduction to the philosophical considerations and the day-to-day realities faced by museum professionals. Seminar sessions include conversations with staff, discussions of readings and other assigned media, and field trips to other types of arts organizations. 

What is the independent project?
Interns have the opportunity to develop an independent project for the museum’s website during their time at the museum. Independent projects take a single object (or small group of objects) as their starting point. The format and content can be interpreted loosely and creatively and may include text, images, multimedia, or any combination of the above. Browse former interns’ perspectives on the collection 

Who do interns work with? How much of the museum's staff do they meet?
Interns’ primary staff resources are their individual supervisor, who oversees their work in their department, and the Director of Academic Programs, who runs weekly seminars and oversees independent projects. Department work often involves working alongside other staff members outside the department. Seminar sessions focus broadly on museum theory and practice, introducing interns to museum staff in a wide range of positions.

Do interns have access to other resources?
Interns’ RISD Museum IDs grant them access to RISD’s Fleet Library and the Brown University libraries. Outside of RISD’s campus, showing the ID at accredited AAM member institutions will grant them free or discounted admission. 

What are your criteria? What do you look for in an application?
We look for students who have a distinct perspective to lend to the work, who have a clearly articulated interest in exploring museum work, and whose career growth would be significantly impacted by this opportunity. Students may have some background relevant to the project selected, but the internship is geared towards those without extensive prior experience in museums and those who may not have had access to similar career opportunities. Successful applicants typically dedicate effort to the two statements, demonstrating a clear interest in the complexity of museums, in the RISD Museum, and in the position as it has been described.

When listing the courses I’ve taken in my current course of study, how many should I include? Do they need to be art-related?
There is no maximum; please feel free to include any that would help us to get to know you and your interests. It is not necessary for you to have taken art-related courses. Think expansively about knowledge and skills that you think are relevant to the position, and the courses that have helped you gain them.

Will you accept late applications if I was unaware of the opportunity before the deadline, or if I am prevented from submitting on the due date as a result of unforeseen last-minute circumstances?
For the sake of equity for all applicants, we do not accept any late applications. We
recommend planning to submit your application prior to the due date, and if you are not able to apply this year, we encourage you to apply in the future, since this program is run annually.

What is your review and interview process?
After the application deadline, there will be approximately one month for internal review. At the beginning of March, candidates will be contacted to schedule a video interview with the Director of Academic Programs and their prospective departmental supervisor. 

I’m located outside of Providence/Rhode Island and getting there may be difficult for me. Are there virtual opportunities or travel assistance?
We will not be offering fully virtual internships now that it is possible to host in-person experiences, but we do offer travel funding for those who need assistance. On your application, you can indicate that you would require a travel stipend.

How and when are recommendations submitted?
As an applicant, you must let your recommenders know in advance that you are requesting letters of recommendation. They will receive a prompt to upload the letter when you submit your application. Letters should be received no later than February 3. You are responsible for planning ahead and requesting letters with enough advance notice.
As a recommender, you will receive an email from, the application platform we use, with a link to upload your letter. That will allow the letter to be filed with the application and considered by the selection committee. If you are not able to meet this deadline, please contact us at
Both applicants and recommenders, please note that staff are not able to upload a letter, update a previously uploaded letter, or re-send an upload request email; for any of these issues, please reach out to Submittable at