Smithsonian Affiliations Visiting Professionals Program

Delivering Digital Programs with Art Collections

October 29-November 9, 2018
Washington, D.C.

This fall Smithsonian Affiliations will introduce a new Visiting Professionals Program (VPP). Building on the learning opportunities offered to Affiliate staff members since 2002, this new program will bring together a cohort of 10 mid-level professionals from across the Affiliate network.

With support from the Getty Foundation, the updated VPP aims to reach a more diverse group of practitioners working in organizations with art collections and serving (or aspiring to serve) diverse audiences. The program is designed to provide more in-depth access to Smithsonian subject and technical experts, resources and collections, allow participants the time and support to tackle a pre-identified challenge for their organization, and equip them with tools and strategies to return home to effectively address the challenge.

The 2018 VPP will focus on programmatic uses of digital technology with art collections, including digital media development, design and delivery, with an emphasis on using digital media to provide greater access to and engagement with the visual arts.

Each participant will come to the program with a specific project or challenge relating to art collections and digital program design and delivery linked to their organization’s strategic plan or priority. Throughout the two-week program, participants will work on their challenge with guidance and support from Smithsonian colleagues and the VPP cohort, and return to their Affiliate organizations with a framework for implementing a solution.

What will you learn?

Participants in the cohort will:

  • Learn to use digital tools appropriately and effectively with art collections
  • Understand the scope and implications of digital tools (and infrastructure) relevant to organizations with art collections
  • Gain knowledge of ways in which the Smithsonian’s digital projects and arts-related resources can support their organization’s needs
  • Learn strategies for leading change and practicing leadership at their home organizations
  • Engage with other diverse mid-career museum professionals in collective learning experiences
  • Be part of a learning cohort where they can learn from and work with both Affiliate and Smithsonian colleagues

What will you do?

The curriculum for the two-week program will be developed specifically to support the needs and interests of the 10 cohort members. The program will mix presentations by Smithsonian staff, small group learning, site visits with deep dives into Smithsonian resources, individual reflection, problem solving exercises, and other interactive learning activities. The VPP will emphasize collaborative learning and dialogue over one-way, teacher-to-student content delivery. There will also be post-program opportunities to connect with Smithsonian colleagues and fellow cohort members to continue talking with and learning from one another.

Who is eligible?

Full-time, mid-career professionals from Affiliate organizations with art collections.

Is there funding to support participation?

Participants will receive a $2,000 stipend plus a travel allowance. The stipend may be used to defray housing costs or in any other way that supports the participant’s stay in Washington. The travel allowance may be used for airfare, train transportation, mileage, and/or parking. Payments are officially distributed by the Smithsonian Office of Fellowships and Internships.

What is the deadline to apply?

July 23, 2018

What is the application process?

Applicants must apply using the Smithsonian online application system
Once registered and logged in applicants will need to complete the requested information.

A complete application package must include:

  • A current CV or résumé (2 page limit)
  • A two-page essay outlining the following:
    • A statement of a problem and/or challenge involving digital programming that the participant will work on during the VPP
    • A statement describing the applicant’s professional experience and personal and professional learning goals for participation
    • A statement addressing how the applicant intends to affect change upon returning to the Affiliate organization
  • A completed Certification Form signed by the director or supervisor of the organization indicating permission for the staff member to be at the Smithsonian for two weeks and that the challenge identified by the participant is a priority for the Affiliate. In addition, the signed form will allow the staff member to participate in follow-up, virtual activities with the cohort.
  • A letter of reference from the applicant’s director or supervisor

Essential Tips for the Online Application

  • Do NOT submit your application until all necessary components are uploaded. Once submitted, you cannot upload or change anything within the application.
  • If you have trouble uploading reference letters, you may direct hard copies to:

Regular Mail:
Elizabeth Bugbee
Smithsonian Affiliations
P.O. Box 37012 MRC 942
Washington, D.C. 20013-7012

Elizabeth Bugbee
Smithsonian Affiliations
470 L’Enfant Plaza SW
STE 7400
Washington, DC 20024

How are candidates selected?

VPP candidates must complete the application materials, which include a certification form from the director or supervisor of their home organization, an essay, a CV or resume, and a reference letter from their director or supervisor. All application materials are then reviewed and evaluated by Smithsonian Affiliations and an external review committee. Selection criteria are based upon how well the applicant describes the problem/challenge involving digital program design as it relates to art collections; the relationship of the project to the Affiliate organization’s strategic plan or priorities; and the project’s intended outcomes.

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 may be accepted. Candidates will be required to successfully pass a background investigation and be fingerprinted prior to their arrival in Washington.

Are there any other requirements?

Participants are expected to write a post-residency reflection/final report, complete an evaluation survey, and participate in post-residency activities, including an interview one year following the program. Project reports may be shared with Smithsonian staff, or used in promotional material as appropriate.

Is housing provided? Are any expenses covered while in D.C.?

The Smithsonian does not provide housing, nor is there a specific housing office at the Smithsonian. As such, Visiting Professionals are responsible for their own living arrangements during their time at the Smithsonian. Participants may use the $2,000 stipend to cover housing expenses. Below are nearby hotels close to the Smithsonian Affiliations office where coursework will take place.

Holiday Inn Washington-Capitol
Mandarin Oriental
Canopy by Hilton- DC Wharf
Hyatt House- DC Wharf
Residence Inn
Hyatt Place

Professional development updates will be sent through the Affiliate eNewsletter. Make sure you are signed up!

Museum Studies Workshop

Support for the Smithsonian Affiliations Visiting Professionals Program is generously provided by the Getty Foundation.

Getty Foundation Logo

2018 Visiting Professionals Quick Facts:

Program Location: Washington, D.C.

Program Dates: October 29-November 9, 2018

Is there funding?: Yes, a $2000 stipend which can be used to defray housing expenses or in any other way that supports the participant’s stay in Washington. Each participant will also receive a travel allowance (See travel allowance chart here). The travel allowance may be used for airfare, train transportation, mileage, and/or parking.

Who can apply?:  Full-time, mid-career staff members at Affiliate organizations that have art collections. In accordance with the American Alliance of Museums’ Emerging Professionals group, we are defining mid-career staff as those who are past entry level but not nearing the end of their career, and are not directors.

Applications are no longer being accepted. 2019 program information coming soon.

If you have any questions about the Visiting Professionals Program, please contact Elizabeth Bugbee, Communications and Professional Development Manager, 202-633-5304,