Research Assistantships

Graduate Student Research Assistantships at the Yale Center for British Art and the Yale University Art Gallery are designed to provide Yale University 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. These research positions enhance the educational experiences provided by academic course work and teaching assistantships 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. Although the positions are not restricted to those students who wish to pursue a museum career, students gain in-depth knowledge of the scholarly and logistical aspects of exhibition preparation and develop other professional skills. 

For further information, contact Research ( | +1 203 432 2824).


Graduate Student Research Assistantships (GRAs) at the Yale Center for British Art are open to PhD graduate students in all disciplines, while those at the Yale Art Gallery are restricted to students specializing in History of Art. The number of assistantships offered may vary each year.

Financial Terms and Duration

The GRA stipend for 2018–19 is equivalent to the stipend for Yale teaching fellows, which is currently $11,343.75 per semester.

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 the student holds the position.

Research assistantships may be offered for one or two semesters depending on project and student circumstances. Full-year GRAs are initially awarded for one semester and are renewed for the second semester after a midyear review, at the discretion of the supervising curator and the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS). At the discretion of the DGS, students in their second and third years may substitute up to two semesters of the 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 or fourth semester, he or she may be allowed to continue at the discretion of the supervising curator and the DGS.


The application process is formal and competitive. GRAs are equivalent to university teaching assistant positions and cannot be negotiated through conversation with curators. It is suggested that students seek the approval of their DGS before applying.

The 2018/2019 application cycle is now closed. Please check back in fall 2018 for future opportunities.

Yale Center for British Art, Project offerings for 2018–19

Rare Books and Manuscripts 

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

Research in the Rare Books and Manuscripts Collection: Interpretation and Accessibility

The 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 GRA will work on one or more projects, creating detailed descriptions of manuscript and archival material within the collections. The descriptions composed by the GRA 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 also 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.

Collections Information and Access  

Supervised by Edward Town, Head of Collections Information and Access and Assistant Curator of Early-Modern Art 

Marking Time: Dated Objects in Early Modern Britain, 1500–1800
The Department of Collections Information and Access seeks a Graduate Student Research Assistant to work with the Head of Department in the development of an exhibition and related publication built around an extraordinary collection of decorative art objects dating from the early modern period from Britain, all of which are inscribed with a date. The exhibition will include objects associated with the body, the home, and the public sphere and will address how they have, and continue to carry, meaning. The variety of objects included in this exhibition should appeal to any candidate with an interest in material culture, or any student who is inclined toward an interdisciplinary approach to history. More broadly, this exhibition interrogates historic conceptions of time and history, while also calling into question how we conceptualize and measure time today. 
This project will both involve travel and research and will require the candidate to develop and expand the loan checklist, working in collaboration with the exhibition curator and assisting with the loan request process. Limited funding for travel will be available.

Exhibitions and Publications  

Supervised by Nathan Flis, Head of Exhibitions and Publications, and Assistant Curator of Seventeenth-Century Paintings

The Art of Francis Barlow (ca. 1626–1704)
The Department of Exhibitions and Publications seeks a Graduate Student Research Assistant to assist the Head of Exhibitions and Publications in the development of an exhibition and related publication about Francis Barlow (English, ca. 1626–1704). Particularly well represented in the Paul Mellon Collection at the Center, Barlow was one of the most diverse and prolific artists to work in seventeenth-century Britain. Training during the turbulent decade of the 1640s, Barlow launched a multifaceted career as painter, book illustrator, model book designer, political satirist, stationer, and picture dealer, which lasted for more than fifty years. He is now usually remembered for his lavishly illustrated edition of Aesop’s Fables (1666, with subsequent editions), while his paintings tend to be forgotten. During his lifetime, however, Barlow’s playful and dramatic “fowl pieces” and sporting pictures—both novel genres that the artist originated and established in Britain—were wildly popular and helped to shape perceptions of the British countryside in the early years of the modern nation and its fast-expanding empire.
The GRA will work directly with the exhibition curator to develop the domestic and international loan checklist, and to conduct research on relevant works in the Center’s collections. Limited funding for travel will be available.

Institutional Archives  

Supervised by Rachel Chatalbash, Senior Archivist

Paul Mellon Archive: Research, Cataloging, Access, and Display

The Yale Center for British Art Institutional Archives is the official repository for all historical documentation of the Center, recording its development from its inception in the mid-1960s to the present. The repository also collects materials pertaining to affiliated organizations, the museum’s founder and benefactor Paul Mellon (Yale College, Class of 1929), and other individuals associated with the Center, past and present.

The Center’s Institutional Archives seeks a Graduate Research Assistant to work with the Senior Archivist on the Paul Mellon Archive. The Paul Mellon Archive consists of documents, books, photographs, and objects documenting aspects of Paul Mellon’s personal life, his role as a major collector of British and European art, his interest in horse racing and breeding, and his philanthropic activities. A primary focus of the project will include cataloging of the Paul Mellon Archive to enable immediate and comprehensive access to this important collection. This project will also address the equally important task of increasing the understanding of Mellon’s contributions as well as the objects in the Archive through scholarly research. Specific items in the collection will be identified for extensive study, in accordance with the GRA’s interests and expertise, and in-depth research and writing about these items will be conducted. The GRA will also assist with planning a new display of objects that highlights this new gift by employing material from the Mellon Archive that reevaluates Mellon’s role as benefactor and philanthropist.