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McMullan Arts Leadership Intern (Photography and Media)

Position Summary

McMullan Arts Leadership Internship, Photography and Media (Summer 2023)

The Art Institute of Chicago’s Photography and Media department is excited to offer a McMullan Arts Leadership intern position to work with their team.

The Art Institute’s department of Photography and Media seeks an enthusiastic and organized undergraduate, graduate, or recently graduated student who is interested in learning about the curatorial field and collection management. The intern will assist the department’s curators with research and coordination of upcoming exhibitions and/or collection-based publishing projects.

The intern will also have the opportunity to learn more about the Art Institute’s collection by assisting the department’s collection manager with cataloging and/or object research, and publishing original web-based content on objects in the collection. Through mentorship with curators in the department, the intern will gain insight into the work of a photography and media curator and museum careers more broadly. 
Spanning the history of photography from the 1830s to the present, the Art Institute's Photography and Media collection holds approximately 24,000 objects by celebrated practitioners from virtually across the globe. Photographs have been exhibited regularly at the Art Institute of Chicago for well over a century; the museum’s photography collection originated in 1949, when Georgia O'Keeffe donated the Alfred Stieglitz Collection. That collection, along with the Julien Levy Collection, give the museum a core strength in early 20th-century photography from the United States and Western Europe. The department's collection also includes important groups of work by pioneer photographers of the 19th century, Japanese postwar photography, work made in Chicago, and a range of contemporary art—making it wide-ranging in scope.

The intern will join a museum-wide intern cohort and have access to a range of programs to support their development in addition to their placement in Photography and Media. Mentorship is provided throughout the experience and connections with an intern alumni network will be established. 
Goals of the McMullan Arts Leadership Internship Program

The McMullan Arts Leadership internship program is part of a museum-wide effort to provide students the opportunity to gain experience, career awareness, networks, and skills that will position them to thrive as future art museum leaders. 

This program specifically aims to support students who encounter economic challenges when considering a career in the arts. Aligned with this goal, we aim to help shape a diverse group of leaders whose actions are informed by a wide range of perspectives, varying career paths, and values inspired by their own lived experiences. 

In this position, the intern will have the opportunity to: 
  • Develop a foundational knowledge of the inner workings of a curatorial department and the work of a curator;
  • Develop a knowledge of current scholarship on photography and media;
  • Experience conducting collection and exhibition research; 
  •  Experience writing and publishing web-based content;
  •  Develop strong communication and organizational skills;
  • Develop mentor relationships with field practitioners;
  • Build peer-to-peer relationships with fellow interns.

  • Assist curators and collection manager with research on objects in the collection
  • Pursue independent research and develop web-based content for one or more collection objects 
  • Attend weekly check-ins with the position’s mentors: the department’s collection manager and the David C. and Sarajean Ruttenberg Associate Curator
  • Attend intern cohort professional development programs and museum practice seminars

  •  Due to onsite necessity, applicants must be based in the Chicagoland area for the summer and/or attending school in the Chicagoland area 
  • Major or focus in art history, media studies, cultural/visual studies, design, or arts administration; museum, institutional, or art world experience will also be considered.
  • Familiarity with MS Office, Adobe Acrobat, and Google Suite
  • Willingness to carry out independent research
  • Ability to work collaboratively and remotely/virtually
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Suite, Adobe Acrobat, and Google Suite 
  • Strong interpersonal, written, and verbal communication skills
  • Detail-oriented mindset and demonstrated organizational skills; ability to multitask and be flexibly prioritize when appropriate 

  • A basic knowledge of photographic history and technique
  •  Awareness of and/or curiosity about art museum culture and current events in the field 

To apply for this internship, tell us your story. We want to understand who you are, what motivates you, how you think, and where you’re coming from. Please submit the following materials:
  • Résumé
  •  In lieu of a traditional cover letter, please respond to the following questions in short essays (no more than 300 words per answer.) We encourage you to provide specific examples to support your answers or to illustrate your ideas: 
  • What about this job description interests you the most? 
  • With the mission of the McMullan Arts Leadership intern program in mind, what perspectives might you bring to this role that you think museums need more of?
  •  How do you envision this opportunity helping you towards your professional goals? 

To apply: Visit to find job posting and apply online. Upload all materials into one pdf document and list your last name and “Summer 2023” in the title of the file (example: [LAST NAME]_Summer2023.pdf.) The application will close on February 28, 2023 at 10:00 PM CDT. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis, so early application is suggested. Selected applicants will be asked to interview via video call.


Duration of Program: 10 weeks / June 2023 (start date anytime during the week of June 5–June 9) through August 2023 (end date anytime during the week of August 7–August 11)

Compensation: Paid / $16.32/hr / full-time / Temporary

Schedule: This is a full-time, 10-week position for a currently enrolled or recently graduated undergraduate or graduate student. The intern will work up to 30 hours per week, for a total of up to 300 hours over the course of the internship. Work days will occur between Monday–Friday; the start date and schedule will be determined upon agreement with the candidate and the host department. 

Hourlong virtual and in-person intern professional development programs will be scheduled throughout the internship term that the student is strongly encouraged to attend. These programs will occur on select Fridays mornings at 10:00 AM CDT unless otherwise noted; we ask that the intern make this part of their internship schedule. 

Format: The internship will be a hybrid of onsite and remote work days. Due to onsite necessity, applicants based or attending school in the Chicagoland area during the internship timeframe will be prioritized. All museum staff, interns, and fellows are required to provide a COVID-19 vaccine attestation upon acceptance of the position. Internet access and appropriate technology will be necessary to complete this internship, but technological accommodations can be provided by the Art Institute of Chicago based on necessity.

Number of openings: 1