Museum Fellows Term

Students in museum

Students at computer

Museum fellows

Student and teacher

Student looking at artwork

Building upon Bennington’s rich legacy in the arts, the Museum Fellows Term cultivates individual interests and ambitions while orienting students to the practical, relational aspects of participating in the multifaceted art and culture communities of New York City. Just as Bennington asks its students to understand themselves as individuals within a broader context, the Museum Fellows Term supports the study of art not only as a form of individual expression, but as work that participates in larger social structures.

Program Description

Launched in January 2015 with a pilot grant from the Mellon Foundation, and now in partnership with the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, Bennington’s Museum Fellows Term is an immersive educational opportunity in which students gain professional work experience at a major cultural institution, visit exhibitions, and study multiple aspects of the art world with Bennington faculty, and meet artists, curators, and other arts and culture leaders. Museum partners over the first three years have included the Bronx Museum of the Arts, the Brooklyn Museum, the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, the Jewish Museum, the Museum of the Moving Image, and the Whitney Museum of American Art, and in 2018 will include The Studio Museum in Harlem.

Integrating learning across several interwoven contexts, the Museum Fellows Program spans the college’s 7-week Field Work Term and the Spring Term. The structure includes a “Professional Practicum” and “Research Colloquium,” which run for the full five months, as well as two academic courses that meet once a week from mid February through the end of May: “Contemporary Art Contexts,” taught by Liz White and “Historical Perspectives,” taught by Elizabeth Smith, executive director of the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation.

The Professional Practicum enables each Frankenthaler Fellow to gain job skills and experience working part-time in a museum (For 2018: three days a week, January 2- February 16, and two days a week February 19- May 25). The Research Colloquium then provides an opportunity for fellows to meet to discuss their internships and compare notes on different roles and institutional contexts, using their professional experiences as fieldwork research to be analyzed and considered in relation to what they are learning from interviews, readings, and site visits. As part of the Research Colloquium, each Fellow is paired with a professional mentor in the arts (outside of the institution where they are working) for a series of five one on one meetings.

Through this immersive program, students selected as Frankenthaler Fellows will:

  • Gain job skills and professional work experience in a major New York City cultural institution

  • Experience art from multiple perspectives and observe and map the complexity of the systems in which art is situated

  • Gain an overview of a diverse range of venues and institutions and consider their impact on various communities

  • Study the relationships between art history and contemporary art through direct observation and academic research

  • Become familiar with a variety of professions within the fields of art and cultural administration

  • Learn directly from, and develop connections with, a wide network of arts and culture professionals living and working in New York City

  • Further develop research and writing skills and the ability to critically respond to exhibitions

Eligibility and Application

Students who are selected as Frankenthaler  Fellows will be in their sixth term (2nd semester juniors), have an excellent academic record, and have a demonstrated interest in art history, cultural studies, curatorial practice, arts and culture management/ leadership, art education, community outreach, museums, galleries, and art and culture organizations, or related cultural work. The college will screen applicants in early fall and pass along the most appropriate candidate(s) to host institutions for placement interviews.

Applications for the 2018 program will be due September 29, 2017. Interested students should contact Liz White for more information (

Cost and logistics

Financial Aid

Financial aid packages will continue to apply and students may be eligible for additional assistance.

Room and Board

Students will not pay Bennington room and board and will be responsible for providing their own meals. Those who wish to secure their own housing may do so. The College will also offer a pre-arranged option.


An unlimited monthly MetroCard will be provided.

Museum Admission

Staff ID cards from host institutions will allow free access to almost all museums.

Additional Program Expenses

The purchase of several books will be required.

Additional Information

Visit the Museum Fellows Program Facebook page.