Visiting Professionals Program

What is the Visiting Professionals Program?

The Smithsonian Affiliations Visiting Professional Program is a tailored educational experience for full-time staff members from Affiliate organizations who are looking for additional training and specialized experience.

Residencies at the Smithsonian are either at one Smithsonian museum/unit or comprised of various meetings across the Institution during the duration of the two-week program. Visiting Affiliates often attend meetings with Smithsonian staff, observe public programs, research collections or actively engage with audience evaluations or public workshops. Topics may include audience evaluation, accessibility, exhibition development, collections management, digitization, and more.

Who is eligible?

Staff members from all career levels are welcome to apply for the Smithsonian Affiliations Visiting Professionals Program. Applicants must be full-time staff members at an official Smithsonian Affiliate.

Is there funding involved?

A Visiting Professional receives a modest stipend, $500.00 per week, or a total of $1000.00. Payments are officially distributed via the Smithsonian Office of Fellowships and Internships.

How is a Visiting Professional selected?

Candidates 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 on:

  • Availability of Smithsonian resources
  • Opportunities for future collaboration
  • Relevance to the applicant’s professional goals

The Smithsonian Affiliations Visiting Professionals Program is a highly competitive program; due to staff limitations not all candidates may be accepted. Candidates may be required to successfully pass a background investigation and be fingerprinted.

What is a typical Visiting Professionals project?

Visiting Professionals projects must have a collaborative goal and 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 and identify how the Affiliate organization will benefit from the learning experience.

Click here for examples of past Visiting Professional projects.

What is the application process?

Please apply using the Smithsonian OnLine Academic Appointment system, SOLAA. 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.
  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 March 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.

Who do I contact with any questions?

For questions about developing your project essay, contact your National Outreach Manager.

For questions about the application process, deadlines, or past projects, please contact Elizabeth Bugbee, Communications and Professional Development Manager, (202) 633-5304,

Archives Center at the American History Museum

A Visiting Professional from the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute works with staff at the Archives Center at the National Museum of American History.