Graduate Research Assistantships

Graduate Research Assistantships at the Yale University Art Gallery and the Yale Center for British Art are designed to provide Yale doctoral students, in their second through sixth year, the opportunity to work as part of an intellectual team on a major scholarly project at one of the museums.

About the Assistantships

Graduate Research Assistantships (GRAs) are paid research positions, commensurate with a teaching fellowship of 17.5 hours per week, that are designed to enhance the educational experiences provided by academic course work and teaching fellowships at the University, allowing students to extend their range of academic specializations and expertise, and to augment research skills by direct contact with objects in the collections. GRAs are excused from their departmental teaching duties during the tenure of the research assistantship.

Research assistantship positions are open to graduate students in all disciplines.

Applicants for research assistantship positions at the Gallery may also be considered for Gallery curatorial internships. However, curatorial internships, unlike research assistantships, involve a flexible number of work hours and may not be substituted for a teaching requirement.

The application deadline for 2015 fellowships is Monday, March 9.


Application Deadline: Monday, March 9, 2015

The application process is formal and competitive. Research assistantships are equivalent to University teaching assistant positions and cannot be negotiated through conversation with curators. Students who wish to apply should send a statement of intent and curriculum vitae. It is suggested that students seek the approval of their Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) before applying.

Short-listed applicants will be contacted for interviews with faculty and museum staff in April.

To apply, please email (as an attached Word document) a letter of application and curriculum vitae to:

Elizabeth Manekin
Assistant Curator of Education
Yale University Art Gallery

Financial Terms and Duration

The stipend for 2015–16 will be $10,650 for 17.5 hours per week.

Research assistantships are normally held over two terms. They are initially awarded for one term and are renewed for the second term after a midyear review, at the discretion of the supervising curator and DGS. At the discretion of the DGS, students in their second and third years may substitute up to two terms of research assistantship in lieu of fulfilling the teaching requirements. If, in an extraordinary case, a student wishes to pursue the same project for a third term, he or she may be allowed to continue on a part-time basis, but the term “research assistant” will not apply during this third term.

No positions beyond those described here can be financed at full stipend level or counted in lieu of teaching requirements. If a student holds a University fellowship, the research assistantship replaces the fellowship for the year in which he or she holds the position.

Project Descriptions

Yale University Art Gallery

Iranian and Indian Art

Supervised by David Ake Sensabaugh, the Ruth and Bruce Dayton Curator of Asian Art

The Gallery has a large collection of objects from Persia and India, including paintings, manuscript pages, ceramics, architectural inscriptions, and textiles. With growing interest from faculty and scholars in using the collection for teaching and research purposes, and with the Arts of Islam installation in the Mimi Gates Study Gallery, the Department of Asian Art is in need of an assistant to conduct research on the paintings, calligraphy, and ceramics in the collection; verify and update catalogue records; write label text; and prepare research-based descriptions of objects, which will not only be useful to students and scholars but will also become the basic text for a future catalogue of the highlights of Yale’s Islamic holdings. Research on the manuscripts and paintings would lead to a special installation in the Dayton Gallery of Asian Art and in the Gates Study Gallery. In addition, during the year of the assistantship, the research assistant may be called upon to assist the Education Department with Yale course visits and other educational initiatives using the Islamic collection in the Gates Study Gallery.

Yale Center for British Art

Interpretation and Accessibility Research

Supervised by Elisabeth Fairman‚ Chief Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts

The Center’s collection of rare books and manuscripts contains approximately thirty-five thousand titles, consisting of material relating to the visual arts and cultural life in the United Kingdom and former British Empire from the sixteenth century to the present. Particular strengths include illustrated “color-plate” books from the renowned J. R. Abbey collection, sporting books and manuscripts, early maps and atlases, early printed books by William Caxton and his contemporaries, private press books and contemporary artist books, drawing manuals, and archival and manuscript material relating to British artists of all periods.

The research assistant will work on one or more projects, creating detailed descriptions of manuscripts and archival material within the collection. The descriptions composed by the research assistant will enable immediate scholarly access to the material. The goal of this project is to make the department’s manuscript and archival collections more available to students and researchers, by identifying subjects of interest to not only art historians, but social, political, and cultural historians. The department will attempt to match the applicant with project material that matches the student’s academic interests and expertise. Possible projects include working on material related to eighteenth-century exploration, eighteenth- and nineteenth-century artists’ correspondence, twentieth-century book arts, maps and atlases, or ephemera from all periods. The research assistantship is funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and could include travel for any necessary related research in other collections.

Henry Moore/Bill Brandt Exhibition Research

Supervised by Martina Droth‚ Associate Director of Research and Education, and Curator of Sculpture

A research assistant is sought to aid in early research toward a future exhibition about the creative connections between the sculptor Henry Moore and the photographer Bill Brandt. The relationship between the two artists is most famously captured in their contemporaneous depictions of the London Underground shelters during World War II, when both artists worked for the Ministry of Information. Brandt’s portraits of Moore are also among the most iconic portrayals of the sculptor. However, the visual resonances between their oeuvres, and their deeply held shared interest in sculptural forms and textures, have to date not been fully examined. The research at this stage will take a material-culture approach, examining in particular the public channels (exhibitions, newspapers, magazines, etc.) through which the work of both artists was represented, as well as garnering material through which to connect the thematic focus of their works with a wider socio-political and historical context. Tasks for the research assistant will include exploring Yale and other library collections for relevant bibliographic and source materials, researching exhibition histories, and working on a timeline of key works.

Dr. William Hunter in Philadelphia

Supervised by Eleanor Hughes, Associate Director of Exhibitions and Publications

The Department of Exhibitions and Publications seeks a research assistant to support the development of an exhibition and related publication marking the three-hundredth anniversary of the birth of Scottish-born obstetrician and anatomist Dr. William Hunter (1718–1783). In addition to his medical contributions, Hunter is remembered as the first professor of anatomy at the Royal Academy of Arts, London; as a discerning patron of the arts; and as one of the most significant Enlightenment collectors of art, coins, medals, natural-history specimens, anatomical preparations, and books and manuscripts. Hunter’s collecting brought him into dialogue with agents who shared his interests around the globe, including figures such as Benjamin Franklin, who was based in Philadelphia, the major scientific center of early America. The tasks of the research assistant will include making contact with institutions and repositories in Philadelphia that may contain Hunter material; working from New Haven to identify archival materials pertaining to Hunter’s American contacts; and, where necessary, investigating these materials firsthand in Philadelphia. The graduate student will ultimately assist with the rediscovery and reconstitution of Hunter’s American network. This research assistantship includes a travel allowance to conduct research in Philadelphia.

Continue Exploring

Collection Objects
Drawings and watercolors, Prints, Drawings, and Photographs, Works on Paper
Collection Objects
Asian Art, Sculpture
Bulletins, New Releases
Collection Objects
Asian Art, Paintings
Collection Catalogues
Exhibition Catalogues