The Souls Grown Deep Foundation, which is dedicated to preserving and promoting work by African American artists from the South, is kicking off a new program to offer undergraduate students of color paid internships. The initiative is one of several recent efforts to bring much-needed diversity to the predominantly white museum field.
The new initiative will begin in the spring 2019 semester by matching three interns with three museums. Each student will receive $5,000. The foundation intends to offer full academic-year placements beginning in fall 2019, providing $10,000 per student.
The Atlanta-based foundation was established by the art dealer William Arnett in 2010. According to a statement from Maxwell Anderson, the organization’s president, the program “presents a new way to support the original aspirations of our founder—that the artists we advocate for, must be and are being championed by others.”
The Souls Grown Deep initiative comes as a number of organizations are working to shift the composition of overwhelmingly white museum staffs. Only 16 percent of leadership positions at art museums in the US are held by people of color, according to a 2015 study by the Mellon Foundation.
Last year, the Ford Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation pledged to spend $6 million over three years to diversify management at American museums. And earlier this year, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and Arizona University teamed up to establish a master’s program aimed at bringing more curators of color into the profession, while the Association of Art Museum Directors launched a paid internship program for college students of color. (That one offers 10 students $6,300 for a 12-week internship.)
The first participating museums in Souls Grown Deep’s initiative have all received art from the foundation as part of its ongoing gift/acquisition program: the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the New Orleans Museum of Art, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. All three are currently working on exhibitions based on their respective acquisitions.
Students can apply to work in departments including curatorial, registration, conservation, education, and administration. Each internship includes a trip to the foundation’s headquarters in Atlanta, as well as visits to the artists and communities Souls Grown Deep serves throughout the Southeast.
Philadelphia Museum of Art CEO Timothy Rub said the process will afford the intern “valuable experience working closely with our curators, and participating in nearly every facet of exhibition planning, from installation design and interpretation to working with our educators on public programming and community engagement.”
Students interested in applying can find information at www.soulsgrowndeep.org/internships.
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