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 University 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 2019–20 is equivalent to the stipend for Yale teaching fellows, which is $11,625.00 per semester in 2019.

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 2019–20 application cycle is now closed. Please check back in the fall of 2019, as projects will be added once confirmed.

Yale Center for British Art, Project offerings for 2019–20

Please visit the Yale University Art Gallery’s website for more information on their projects in 2019–20.
Prints and Drawings
Fixing and Fading: Photographic Histories
Supervised by Chitra Ramalingam, Assistant Curator of Photography
A GRA is sought to help with developing the exhibition Fixing and Fading and the related scholarly publication scheduled for summer 2022. Fixing and Fading will explore nineteenth-century photographs as material objects whose power and meaning (historical, aesthetic, and epistemic) have consisted in their transformation over time: their fading or decay, their marks of use and circulation, their deliberate destruction or defacement. It will present photographs (primarily but not exclusively British) and related objects that rarely appear in the history of photography as told in art museums; objects with layered histories and trajectories that weave together the histories of chemistry, art, architecture, archaeology, and anthropology.  It will also feature works by contemporary photographers who engage with these themes from the medium’s history in their practice. The GRA may participate in all aspects of exhibition preparation, including researching objects in Yale collections and other institutions, maintaining and organizing object lists and loan requests, or editorial and organizational work related to the publication. Specific tasks and research topics will be identified to suit the successful candidate’s interests and expertise. The project draws on interdisciplinary scholarship on the history of photography from cultural history, history of art, history of science, science studies, material culture studies, visual anthropology, and critical heritage studies. Graduate students with a background in any of these fields are encouraged to apply.  
Empire of NaturePeabody/Yale Center for British Art 
Supervised by Chitra Ramalingam, Assistant Curator of Photography
A GRA is sought to help with developing an ongoing engagement between the collections of the Yale Center for British Art and the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History. The goal is to create a series of installations of small numbers of Peabody objects among the collections on display in the fourth-floor galleries at the Center, during the years of Peabody’s closure for renovation, approximately 2020–23 (dates still to be determined in conjunction with the Peabody; an initial installation to launch the project will already take place at the end of spring 2019). The purpose of the series will be threefold: to think across and between the two collections in order to explore intercultural perspectives on the history of British art and empire; to foreground “natural” objects’ complex histories of acquisition, translocation, and arrival into “universal” collections like the Peabody; and to unsettle the overarching categories of natural and cultural heritage, which are themselves established through the politics of taxonomy and display in different kinds of museum. The GRA may participate in all aspects of this project, including researching objects in the Center’s and Peabody’s collections in connection with his or her own interests, writing labels or text for installation brochures, and helping to develop a syllabus for a graduate seminar for fall 2020 in connection to the project. Specific tasks and research topics will be identified to suit the successful candidate’s interests and expertise.

Exhibitions and Publication
The Art of Francis Barlow, Painter of Birds and Beasts
Supervised by Nathan Flis, Head of Exhibitions and Publications, and Assistant Curator of Seventeenth-Century Paintings

The Department of Exhibitions and Publications seeks a GRA to assist in the development of an exhibition and publication about the life and work of Francis Barlow (English, 1622–1704). Well represented in the Paul Mellon Collection at the Center (there are four paintings in the collection), Barlow trained during the turbulent decade of the 1640s and launched a multifaceted career as painter, book illustrator, model book designer, political satirist, stationer, and picture dealer, which lasted for more than half a century. Now usually remembered for his lavishly illustrated edition of Aesop’s Fables (first published in 1666), his paintings tend to be forgotten; it is one of the aims of the project to understand Barlow’s practice as a painter in relation to his other pursuits. His playful and dramatic paintings of birds and animals were highly popular during his lifetime and arguably shaped perceptions of the British countryside in the early years of the formation of the modern nation and the growth of its empire.
The GRA will work directly with the exhibition curator to develop the loan checklist and to conduct research on relevant works in the Center’s collections. Funding is available for research-related travel.

Institutional Archives
Narratives of the Yale Center for British Art: An Oral History Program
Supervised by Rachel Chatalbash, Senior Archivist

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, and other individuals associated with the Center, past and present. 
The department seeks a GRA to work with the senior archivist to participate in the development of the Institutional Archives’ oral history program. This project will complement the Institutional Archives’ existing collections by establishing the groundwork for a program that brings the Center’s unique stories to life through the voices of noteworthy participants in its history. The GRA will have the opportunity to identify significant individuals and topics pertaining to the Center’s history in accordance with the GRA’s interests and expertise, conduct in-depth scholarly research on those subjects in preparation for interviews, and create oral histories by gathering first-hand, comprehensive testimonies that explore a range of topics, including architecture, art collecting, and scholarship. These oral histories will not only shed light on the history of the Yale Center for British Art but will also contribute scholarship to the history of British art more generally. The GRA will broaden public and scholarly engagement with the history of the Center’s art collections, its historic building, and its exhibition program by creating and providing access to new narratives that reflect the multifaceted experiences of those involved in its past, present, and future.
Rare Books and Manuscripts 
Research in the Rare Books and Manuscripts Collection: Interpretation and Accessibility
Supervised by Elisabeth Fairman‚ Chief Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts
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.