History and Art History
College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Art History Internship

ARTH 393

Purpose

The Washington, DC area, with all its great museums, galleries and arts organizations, is one of the most exciting places in the country to study art and architecture. Opportunities for internships with arts professionals abound. We encourage all our advanced Art History majors to cap their college experience with an internship as a way to apply their classroom learning, explore career options, and gain useful experience in the real world. Our students have found exciting internships at the National Gallery, the Smithsonian museums, the National Archives, the Phillips Collection, National Museum of Women in the Arts, private sales galleries, historic house museums, archeological sites, and many more places. Duties have included curatorial research, creating archives, digitization projects, oral histories, exhibition design and mounting, restoration of objects, educational programming, docent tours, and more. An Art History internship experience can be an important first step towards a career in the arts, or to graduate studies.

What is an internship, exactly?

An internship is an introductory training or study arrangement for an individual student to work with a professional in a field related to the student’s interests. They are usually off-campus, although there are on-campus opportunities as well. A good internship benefits everyone: it provides valuable assistance to the professional person or organization, and valuable on-the-job training for the student, as well as academic credit and future contacts in the field. Internships are usually unpaid apprenticeships—volunteer work essentially--though some carry stipends. The Department of Labor has special rules allowing for such unpaid apprenticeships, provided all parties understand and agree to the arrangements. The student is responsible for finding the opportunity, and registering for GMU academic credit after consulting with the Art History internship director. The student may register and pay for one to six credits of ARTH 393 (for undergraduates) or ARTH 593 (for graduate students).

Why do an internship? By participating in an internship, you may:

  • apply what you’ve learned in college coursework to real professional situations
  • get an insider’s view of the museum world and its operations, with hands-on experience
  • gain administrative experience helping arts organizations with their programs
  • learn to use new and unfamiliar research and digital tools
  • learn about careers in the arts, and your own aptitude for them
  • gain valuable "real world" work experience to include on future resumes
  • apply your digital skills to web-based projects needed by major organizations
  • develop public speaking skills through tours and educational programs
  • make important professional contacts in your field of interest
  • burnish your resume with solid professional achievements

Structure of the Program

To receive Mason course credit for ARTH 393, you must undertake some practical work experience at a public or private agency involved in art or historically-related work. An “Internship Agreement” form and course registration must be completed before you begin the work.

45 hours of work is required for 1 credit of ARTH 393. 80 hours of work is required for 3 credits of ARTH 393. 160 hours are required for the maximum of 6 credits.

Fall, Spring, and Summer enrollment are all acceptable.

In addition to the work experience, you may be required to:

• read books and/or articles related to your work experience

• meet periodically with your faculty internship supervisor and/or your on-site supervisor to discuss these readings

• complete a written project related to the work experience, such as a log or journal

Who is Eligible?

You must be an art history major who has completed, or is in the process of completing, 15 hours in art history. A 2.5 GPA in all art history courses is mandatory.

How are Internships Obtained?

If you meet the academic requirements, you should consult with the Art History Internship Coordinator well before the start of the semester that you would like to enroll in ARTH 393.

The Undergraduate Coordinator's Office (ROB B 361) has a binder of agencies that are willing to accept student interns. Your professors may be able to recommend sites in their fields of specialization. Further assistance may be available from GMU's Career Services Office (SUB 1 3400).

You will be required to seek out these positions on your own, but to receive academic credit, the Art History Internship Coordinator must approve the site/position. To receive approval, the nature of the site and your duties must be essentially art historical.

Internships are usually unpaid positions, though some may be salaried or provide a modest stipend. Interns must have reliable transportation to the work site, and they may also have to arrange for parking and medical insurance.

There are no special fees or charges (beyond standard tuition fees) associated with completing an internship for art history credit.

Enrollment

You may sign up for ARTH 393 through the Art History Internship Coordinator. You cannot register for this course without a signed permission form from the Art History Internship Coordinator.

Your faculty supervisor will be either the Art History Internship Coordinator or a faculty member whose specialty is in the area of your internship.

You must be approved by the agency supervisor. This supervisor will arrange your work schedule, direct the work experience, and help in evaluating your performance.

An "Internship Agreement" must be signed by you, your job site supervisor, and your faculty supervisor or the Art History Internship Coordinator. This agreement stipulates the expectations and obligations of the internship, which must be completed in order to receive a satisfactory grade and credit for ARTH 393. In addition, the University requires a “Consent and Release Agreement” to be signed by the student.

For More Detailed Information or to Discuss Program Specifics

Dr. Angela Ho
Art History Internship Coordinator
703-993-1250 or aho5@gmu.edu

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