In a field where procuring a job in a museum or university is largely a matter of work experience and professional connections, internship experience can push you ahead of the herd. Art history internships abroad will not only put your knowledge of art history to the test and introduce you to the places that inspired all the artists you’ve studied, you will also be able to explore a new city, learn the ins and outs of a new culture and art scene, and share your passion for the arts on an international level. Interning abroad in art history will be the first step to your career in the field, and a true first step into the world of art in all its forms.
Why Intern Abroad in Art History
After years of learning about painters from the hillsides of Italy where da Vinci completed his works of art or the streets of Spain where Salvador Dalí drew inspiration for his surrealist paintings, many art history students dream of traveling the world to witness these places for themselves. Completing an art history internship abroad can allow you to step into the footprints of your favorite artists and work with some of the most reputable museums and institutions in the world.
If you love art and the way art is displayed, shared, and used to educate, then an internship abroad in art history is most definitely a step in the right direction for you. Art is an especially international subject, as its themes have historically permeated country borders, surpassed language barriers, and exposed cultural differences. Learning the trade while experiencing the languages and locations that inspired great works can turn your pastime into a passion, and therefore your internship abroad could turn into a burgeoning career.
Art history is a fairly exclusive subject insofar as securing a job post-graduation. Many art history majors find themselves unable to be hired in their field because of a small amount of open positions and a large candidate pool. First-hand work experience abroad, therefore, is weighed much more heavily.
Not surprisingly, as most art history students learn from the Western canon of artwork, the most popular locations to intern abroad are in Western Europe. The famed birthplace of artists like Michelangelo and Caravaggio, Italy ranks at the top of the list of dream art history internship locations. Whether you choose Florence, the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, or Rome, the capital city which is filled with multitudes of art museums and architectural landmarks, Italy is a great place to launch your flourishing art history career and practice your conversational Italian.
Working at the world famous Louvre is an aspiration of many art lovers, and interning at one of France’s many reputable museum operations of museums. Plus, you can travel from the bustling capital of Paris to the lush countryside that inspired Monet, Cezanne, and Renoir in your free time. You could also consider the neighbor to the north, England, where large collections of Western European art reside in museums and galleries in the capital city of London.
Outside of the Western canon, those who are interested in Asian art, Islamic art, or a multitude of other subject matter may be drawn to a different set of countries. Art history internships in China, for example, can offer students a chance to delve deep into history, as art in some regions dates back to the sixth millennium B.C.E. For those who are not familiar with Chinese art history, this could be an opportunity to step outside of their comfort zone while working with a large institution.
Art History Internships Abroad
Most art history internships take place in art museums and galleries across the world. Museums use interns to help catalogue works of art, put together exhibitions, advertise or manage public relations for special events, and complete general paperwork that comes along with the acquisition and showcasing of valuable art pieces. Aspiring interns should expect art history internships abroad to come with a fair share of hands-on work, rather than time shadowing someone in a higher level position. Those who intern abroad in museums and galleries will gain valuable experience in curation and cataloguing and documenting artwork at the very least.
Those that are interested in art history education, with children or adults, can generally apply to intern in art institutions or in the education departments of museums. Often, museums will hire interns to put together small, informational displays or interactive pieces to teach children who often visit museums with their schools. Similarly, art institutions, including universities, often have specific departments that work with interns to create art history curriculum for people of all ages. There are a number of nonprofit organizations around the world that provide a range of art education courses and art activities for children in various community settings, that also offer opportunities to intern abroad in art history.
One of the most important things to recognize is that the majority of art history internships abroad are unpaid, due to visa restrictions, funding limitations, and many other factors. Securing a paid art history internship abroad will be incredibly difficult and will require a high level of coordination from your internship provider. Some art history internships abroad may include accommodations as a form of compensation, such as free housing and some meals, but this is also rare. Lastly, be sure to check with your university advisor to make sure your art history internship meets any internship requirements your department may have if you want to earn academic credit for your time abroad.
The allure of art history internships abroad is strong for many students and recent graduates, who already tend to have a high desire to travel abroad but feel bogged down by the need to gain work experience. Interning abroad in art history offers the opportunity to travel consciously, while still working toward the goal of career advancement.
Step into the Frame. Art history internships abroad are popular among art history majors and graduates because of the massive appeal that taking a step away from the books of famous works of art has, and the chance to step into the places that make art history books come alive.
Cutting Edge Competition. Art history is not the easiest field to find a job in after graduation. Even with a bona fide art history degree in hand, many graduates find themselves applying for jobs in unrelated fields. An art history internship abroad can therefore be a huge bonus on your resume in the eyes of future employers, because it means you have hands on experience in the field and know what you are getting yourself into.