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Professional Development Program:
Visiting Professional Program

  1. What is this program?
  2. Who is eligible?
  3. Is there funding involved?
  4. How is a Visiting Professional selected?
  5. What is a typical Visiting Professional project?
  6. What is the application process?
  7. Are there any other requirements?
  8. What are the deadlines?
  9. Who can I contact with any questions?

What is the Smithsonian Affiliations Visiting Professional Program?

The Smithsonian Affiliations Visiting Professional Program began in 2002 in response to staff members from Affiliate organizations seeking additional training and specialized experience.

Through a competitive application process, Visiting Professionals are selected to come to the Smithsonian once a calendar year to meet and work with Smithsonian staff in a subject area or on a project specifically applicable to their organizational and professional goals. Visiting Professionals typically work full-time (40 hours per week) at the Smithsonian for two weeks. Visiting Professional programs may be completed during any two consecutive weeks during the calendar year that best suits the Affiliate staff member's and Smithsonian staff member's schedules. Drawing upon resources and expertise at the Smithsonian, the program provides a supervised professional development experience. In addition to building capacity and skills, Visiting Professionals often also build lifelong networks and a series of professional contacts.

Who is eligible?

The Smithsonian Affiliations Visiting Professional Program is designed for Affiliate museum professionals at Affiliate organizations who are either beginning their careers and are seeking to gain more experience, or are mid-level professionals who find themselves with newly added job responsibilities. Applicants must be full-time staff members at an official Smithsonian Affiliate.

Is there funding involved?

A Visiting Professional receives $350.00 per week, or a total of $700.00. Payments are officially distributed via the Smithsonian Office of Fellowships.

How is a Visiting Professional selected?

Candidates for a Smithsonian Affiliations Visiting Professional award must complete the application materials, which include a nomination by his/her home organization. All application materials are then reviewed and evaluated by Smithsonian Affiliations and a candidate's potential project supervisors. Selection criteria are based upon the availability of Smithsonian resources, the relationship of the proposed project to the Affiliate organization's goals, and the relationship of the proposed project to the applicant's professional goals. Smithsonian Affiliations will provide candidates and Affiliate organizations with information regarding the status of applications and will notify the candidates of final selections. Not all candidates will be accepted. Candidates may be required to successfully pass a background investigation and be fingerprinted.

What is a typical Visiting Professional project?

Projects should not only reflect the need of an Affiliate but also the professional objectives of the candidate. It is encouraged that projects suggest a general topic or discipline to be studied. Projects can be in a variety of museum areas, including curatorial research, exhibition design, collections management and administration. Finally, projects should allow a Visiting Professional to develop a new skill or solve a challenge related to his/her professional objectives.

Click here for examples of past Visiting Professional projects.

What is the application process?

Please apply using the Smithsonian online application system Once registered and logged in you will need to complete the requested information.

A complete application package must include:

  1. A completed Certification Form signed by the director of the organization indicating that, if a project is accepted, the Affiliate will allow his/her staff member to be a visiting professional at the Smithsonian during the specified timeframe (Click here for the form in PDF format)
  2. A current curriculum vitae or resume
  3. A letter of reference from the candidate's supervisor
  4. A two-to-four page project essay outlining the following:
    • The applicant's professional experience
    • The nature of the project and/or museum discipline applicant would like to pursue
    • Special skills or knowledge applicant would like to acquire
    • Opportunities for future collaboration between Affiliate organization and the Smithsonian resulting from Visiting Professionals Program residency
Essential Tips for the Online Application
  • Do NOT submit your application until all necessary components are uploaded (i.e. certification form, reference letter, essay, resume). Once submitted, you cannot upload or change anything within the application.

Are there any other requirements?

Smithsonian Affiliations requires each Visiting Professional to submit one (1) final written report:

This final report (2 pages typed) is the Visiting Professional's opportunity to summarize and assess his/her experience while at the Smithsonian, as well as to characterize how s/he intends to apply the new skills or knowledge back at the Affiliate organization. Project reports may be shared with Smithsonian staff, or used in promotional material as appropriate.

What are the deadlines?

Selected candidates have the opportunity to complete their program during any consecutive two-weeks from January through September each year. Smithsonian Affiliations will provide candidates and Affiliate organizations with information regarding the status of applications and will notify the candidates of approval based on their proposed dates of choice and Smithsonian staff availability.

Visiting Professionals Program 2015:

  • CLOSED for new applications
  • Candidates will be notified of application status first week of January 2015.

Visiting Professionals Program 2016:

  • Deadline for Submission of Candidate(s) to Smithsonian: October 17, 2015
  • Notification to Affiliate and the applicant: Late November 2015
  • Period of Visiting Professional's residency: Selected dates between January 2016 and November 30, 2016

Who can I contact with any questions?

Any questions regarding application procedures may be directed to Elizabeth Bugbee at Smithsonian Affiliations by sending an e-mail to

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