Established in 2013, the Andrew W. Mellon Summer Academy and Undergraduate Curatorial Fellowship Program aims to make a critical impact on American art museums by expanding the diversity of their curatorial staff. The program provides specialized training in the curatorial field for students across the United States and was originally implemented at five partnering institutions: the Art Institute of Chicago; the High Museum of Art, Atlanta; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA); the Museum of Fine Arts Houston (MFAH); and the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City. Each partner museum holds a world-class, encyclopedic collection that represents the broad range of artistic production across history and around the globe, and at each site the program is organized around two components: the Summer Academy and the Undergraduate Curatorial Fellowship Program.
The program is intended specifically for undergraduate students from historically underrepresented groups in the curatorial field or those who support the goal of promoting inclusive, pluralistic museums. Students must be currently enrolled at a university, college, or community college, and, if selected, be able to commit to at least two years in the program prior to graduating. Applicants should express an interest in art, art history, or the museum field. In addition to having a strong academic record, a candidate should be able to demonstrate, through areas of study, extracurricular activities, background, or other experiences, how they will contribute to the program.
Summer Academies are one-week immersion programs designed to provide a rich experience in the museum environment and expose the 15 participants to career options related to art and art history. Each Summer Academy will include workshops, tours, field trips, and networking events with museum professionals. Upon the completion of each Summer Academy, participants have the opportunity to apply for two-curatorial fellowships, for which two students will be accepted.
The two-year curatorial 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 who works to enrich their academic experience and to increase exposure to the museum context while broadening a fellow’s understanding of art and art history. Fellowships include engagement during the academic school year and two consecutive summer internships.