Program Overview

The Andrew W. Mellon Undergraduate Curatorial Fellowship Program and Summer Academy aim to provide specialized training for students from across the United States from groups historically underrepresented in the curatorial field and who support the goal of promoting inclusive, pluralistic museums.

These programs seek to make a critical impact on American art museums by developing gifted curators who are committed to engaging with the full spectrum of museum audiences. The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation published reports on its Art Museum Staff Demographic Survey in 2015 and 2018 that address the need for a diverse education pipeline into the curatorial field.

The program takes place at six partnering institutions: the Art Institute of Chicago (AIC); the High Museum of Art in Atlanta; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA); the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH); the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art (NAMA) in Kansas City; and the Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA).

2020 Mellon Summer Academy: Call for Applications

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, welcomes applications for the Summer Academy from undergraduates interested in exploring the museum field. The week-long Summer Academy provides 15 students with a special opportunity to learn about art museums and curatorial practices.

The 2020 Mellon Summer Academy at the MFAH takes place June 14–19, 2020.

During the Summer Academy, students:
• Develop a deeper understanding of the role of the curator
• Learn how to develop an exhibition concept and design
• Engage in conversations about how art museums are seeking to promote diversity and inclusion in their staff and audiences
• Develop a network of peers and mentors
• Establish ongoing connections to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, its staff, and its collections

Accommodations, lunches, program supplies, and a stipend of $350 are provided for students participating in the Summer Academy.

Upon completion of the Summer Academy, participants have the opportunity to apply for a two-year curatorial fellowship with a yearly stipend of $10,000 awarded; two participants will be selected as fellows. 

How to Apply

Application Deadline: Monday, March 23, 2020

Please submit the materials listed below, using this application form.

• Application information
• Personal statement
• Résumé
• Transcripts
• One letter of recommendation emailed to fellowship@mfah.org

Submission Instructions
Complete the application information and upload all supporting materials using the form at the link provided above.

If necessary, applicants may email supporting application materials, including personal statement, résumé, and transcripts to fellowship@mfah.org. If you submit materials via email, send all files in PDF or Word document format and include “2020 Summer Academy Application” in the subject line.

Eligibility 

Who is eligible to apply?

1) Undergraduates currently enrolled at a university, college, or community college.

2) Undergraduates who, if selected as a fellow, can commit to two years in the program with graduation planned for May 2022 or a later date (typically a current freshman or sophomore and/or a nontraditional student with two years of undergraduate study remaining).

3) Individuals from historically underrepresented groups in the curatorial field and those who support the goal of promoting diversity, inclusion, and pluralistic museums. For more information, view the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s 2018 Art Museum Staff Demographic Survey.

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: Art Institute of Chicago (AIC); the High Museum of Art in Atlanta; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA); the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH); the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art (NAMA) in Kansas City; and the Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA). Apply to one of the six museums based on which one is closest to your academic institution.

3) Openness to the idea of pursuing an M.A. or Ph.D. in fields such as art history or museum studies, advancing the goal of a career as an art- museum curator.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Mellon Undergraduate Curatorial Fellowship Program?
The Mellon Undergraduate Curatorial Fellowship is a two-year program providing fellows with hands-on experience inside a museum setting, working with curators and staff on exhibitions, collections, and programs.

How long is the Fellowship Program?
Fellows can expect to spend two years at their host museum. During the academic year, fellows must meet with their mentors and with a local program coordinator on a regular basis. In the summer, fellows have a 10-week intensive experience working full-time (35 hours/week) with their curatorial mentors. Fellows participate in a yearly national convening at one of the partner museums rotating annually, and they engage their fellow participants across the country in an online community platform.

Is there financial support to participate in the Fellowship Program?
Yes. Once selected as a fellow, students receive $4,000 during the academic school year to alleviate financial pressures that might otherwise require a student to pursue part-time work or work-study arrangements. In addition, fellows receive $6,000 during the summer internships. A travel stipend is provided to the fellows along with a housing stipend for the summer.

How are fellows selected?
Students must first apply to a Summer Academy held at one of the partnering museums. After completing the Summer Academy, participants submit supplemental materials for consideration for the Fellowship Program.

Do I apply to the Summer Academy and the Fellowship Program separately?
No. Students must first apply and participate in the Summer Academy in order to be considered for the Fellowship Program.

How many students are selected to be fellows?
Two fellows are selected following each Summer Academy.

If I applied to a Summer Academy and was not selected to participate, can I re-apply to the next Summer Academy?
Yes, you may apply to the program if you still meet all the eligibility requirements.

If I applied to a Summer Academy and participated but was not selected to be a fellow, can I apply to the next Summer Academy?
No. Students who participate in a Summer Academy may not re-apply to the program, but may be considered for opportunities at the museum in the future.

Further questions? Contact fellowship@mfah.org

Mellon Undergraduate Curatorial Fellows at the MFAH

For more information on the 2019–2021 class of fellows, see the news release.

  Veronica Carleton is a third-year student at Northlake Community College, majoring in art history. After attending Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing & Visual Arts, with a painting and drawing concentration, she initially went on to study international relations with a focus on Latin America. She has since decided to pursue the curatorial field to marry her passion for art and history. Carleton’s goal as a Mellon Fellow is to develop a curatorial practice that focuses on the expansion of the artistic canon to include more voices that have historically been underrepresented in the fine art world. Her curatorial mentor is Mari Carmen Ramírez, the Wortham Curator of Latin American Art and Director of the International Center for the Arts of the Americas.
Courtney Khim    Courtney Khim is a fourth-year student attending the University of Houston, majoring in art with a double minor in art history and German. Khim has contributed to the work and mission of collections and art galleries in Houston: she interns and is also a docent for the curatorial department of Blaffer Art Museum at the University of Houston; she serves as social coordinator and community organizer for the Blaffer Art Museum Student Association (BAMSA); and she was an art administration intern at DiverseWorks, a nonprofit organization that supports new and daring art through innovative collaboration. Her practice as an art student focuses on color theory and identity through mixed-media painting. As a fellow, Khim seeks to continue pursuing her passion for contemporary art while further developing her practice as an artist and curator. Her curatorial mentors are Alison de Lima Greene, Isabel Brown Wilson Curator, department of modern and contemporary art, and Kanitra Fletcher, assistant curator, modern and contemporary art.
Avani Sastry   Avani Sastry is a second-year student majoring in art history and history at Trinity University in San Antonio. Before discovering her passion for art history and the curatorial field, Sastry explored a wide range of fields, from plant biology research at the University of Texas, to reviewing films for the Austin Film Festival, to interning at the creative writing education nonprofit Gemini Ink. As a Mellon Fellow, Sastry is interested in applying her diverse experiences to her curatorial practice while pursuing her passion for modern and contemporary South Asian art, with an emphasis on post-colonialism, the desi diaspora, and issues of gender and sexuality. Her curatorial mentor is Bradley Bailey, Ting Tsung and Wei Fong Chao Curator of Asian art.
  Jaelynn Walls is a third-year student and Mellon Mays Research Scholar studying art history and African American studies at the University of Houston. She developed a passion for curation as a Teen Council member at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston. She has since independently curated shows throughout Texas, including One for Us at Big Medium Gallery, Turned on Like a Switch at Pump Project, and A Gathering at the Blanton Museum of Art. In addition to independent curation focusing on African American art and artists, Walls has held both education and curatorial positions at the Blanton Museum of Art, Sugar Hill Museum, and Contemporary Arts Museum Houston. She spent the summer of 2019 as a research assistant in the art history department of Stanford University. Walls hosts the YouTube channel “Art in Color,” in which she interviews contemporary artists of color and discusses their work for K–12 audiences and beyond. She hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in art history focusing on work by contemporary African American artists. Her curatorial mentor is Dena Woodall, associate curator of prints and drawings.