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ACHP-Smithsonian Cultural Heritage Fellowship

Application Deadline:

This program is currently on hiatus. 



In 2017 and 2018, the Smithsonian and the ACHP offered a joint fellowship on themes of mutual interest. Those with an interest in learning more about the preservation of historic sites, intangible heritage, and artifacts within and around the nation’s capital were encouraged to apply.

This fellowship was a joint experience with the Smithsonian Institution (SI) and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP). Through its 19 museums and research centers, SI works to preserve more than 154 million artifacts and specimens. With more than 16,000 musical instruments, 100,000 pages of sheet music, 80,000 recorded music tracks, and approximately 400 musical activities per year, the Smithsonian may very well be the world’s largest museum of music.

The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, an independent federal agency, promotes the preservation and sustainable use of the nation’s diverse historic resources and advises the President and the Congress on national historic preservation policy. It oversees the historic preservation review process for federal projects, which ensures that federal agencies take into account the effect of their undertakings on properties on or eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. The ACHP also conducts preservation programs dealing with promoting public appreciation of cultural heritage, economic development, sustainability, national preservation policy, preservation related legislation, and Native American interests.



How it Works:

Over the course of at least 12 weeks (Fall Session: September – December), fellows will explore the preservation of cultural heritage both in situ at a site that is on or eligible to be on the National Register of Historic Places in the Washington, D.C. area and ex situ at the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage and the offices of the ACHP. The fellow will have advisors from both the Smithsonian and the ACHP to help direct and support their work. During their fellowship, fellows are expected to split their time equally between the ACHP and the Smithsonian, and determine the appropriate number of site visits after consultation with their advisors.

This place-based, cultural heritage fellowship will consist of a research project, along the lines of the examples below, which highlights the integration of historic sites and museum collections to tell fuller stories about the development, impact, and role of music in the history and heritage of DC, specifically as it relates to historic places. Based upon the successful applicant’s research interests as described in their project proposal and the program priorities of the sponsors, a research project will be developed and agreed upon by all parties. Results of the fellowship may include reports, presentations, proposals, educational curriculum, public exhibition proposals, recommendations, and/or similar research products, which will bring value to the historic preservation field and to the Smithsonian Institution’s vast museum collection.

Research proposals may touch on particular neighborhoods, communities, festivals, or other relevant areas, as they relate to the intersection of historic places and music.

The following examples detail a few topics currently being researched by the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. For additional details, or to discuss other potential research topics, please contact Meredith Holmgren (

  • Exhibition research on American women’s music history, as told through Smithsonian collections of material culture, library items, archival assets, recordings, and more.
  • Programming and festival research about the contemporary music scene in Washington, D.C.
  • Field research that informs new music recordings to be released through Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, the nonprofit record label of the US national museum.



To help defray living expenses during the tenure of their fellowship, fellows will receive a $7,000 stipend.


Eligibility & Prerequisites:

Current or recent undergraduate or graduate students with an interest in cultural and/or historic preservation are eligible to apply for this fellowship. Some familiarity with cultural and/or historic preservation is desirable, but not required. Local DC students are strongly encouraged to apply.


How to Apply:

To apply, applicants need to create an account on the Smithsonian Online Academic Appointment System (SOLAA). Then, start an application for this fellowship program, which is listed as the Office of Fellowships and Internships (OFI). Follow the steps listed, and be sure to upload all necessary supporting documents.

The application will consist of:

  1. Project Proposal (maximum two pages)
    1. The proposal should identify your research goals and the importance of the work in relation to the discipline and your own scholarly endeavors
    2. The proposal should identify the proposed historic site, which must be registered on or eligible for the National Register of Historic Places within the DC region
    3. The proposal should identify your preferred start and end dates
  2. Curriculum Vitae (maximum two pages)
  3. One Letter of Recommendation
  4. Letter of Commitment from the ACHP
  5. Letter of Commitment from the SI