Mellon Foundation Postdoctoral Curatorial Fellowship at the American Philosophical Society Museum

The American Philosophical Society Library & Museum (APS) invites applications for its two-year The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Postdoctoral Curatorial Fellowship. The APS seeks applications from recent humanities Ph.D.’s interested in exploring career paths in libraries, museums, and cultural heritage institutions. The Fellowship, based in the APS Library & Museum, will provide hands-on experience in curatorial work and the opportunity to pursue an independent research project, preferably one related to the collections or programs of the Society’s Library & Museum.

The Fellow will be fully integrated into the APS Library & Museum staff, working closely with others on the curatorial team. Primary responsibilities will include:

  • Conducting research in the APS Library & Museum collections in preparation for exhibitions exploring the intersections of history, art, and science;
  • Selecting objects for exhibitions and developing thematic narratives;
  • Helping plan and implement exhibitions as well as researching and writing interpretive materials for non-scholarly audiences (exhibition labels and text panels, website text, etc.);
  • Depending on the Fellow’s interests and the Library & Museum’s needs, they may also participate in public programming, museum education, collections management, and website development.

Twenty percent of the Fellow’s time will be reserved for their own independent research, ideally using resources at the APS or kindred regional institutions. The Fellow will also be expected to participate in the vibrant intellectual community at the Society, including biannual symposia for the elected Members of the APS, monthly lunches at the Library with visiting scholars, daytime workshops and programming with other residential fellows, and evening programs with specialists in a wide range of fields.

This two-year Fellowship begins July 1, 2020 and ends September 15, 2022. Compensation is $48,500 a year plus benefits, along with additional funds for research support, travel, and relocation. The Fellowship may not be held concurrently with any other fellowship or grant.


  • Ph.D. in any humanities discipline, awarded within the past five years. The Library & Museum’s approach is interdisciplinary, and applications from qualified researchers in any humanities discipline are welcome. Applicants must have Ph.D. in hand by June 30, 2020.
  • Excellent analytical and writing skills; experience in writing for different purposes and broad audiences.
  • Desire to work collaboratively.
  • Broad interests, along with the intellectual and conceptual tools necessary for working across disciplines and time periods, and for making creative connections.
  • Flexibility and the capacity to learn quickly.
  • Project-oriented organizational skills.
  • Strong interest in exploring a career in the museum field and/or public history.
  • Fellows are not required to have specialized expertise in the individual exhibition topics. However, general interest in these topics is desirable. There is one exhibition per year, running from mid-April through December. Upcoming exhibitions include (working titles):
    • April – December, 2020: Benjamin Franklin’s Science
    • April – December, 2021: Women in Science: Unequal Recognition (2020-2022 fellow will be co-curator)
    • April – December, 2022: TBD (2020-2022 fellow will be co-curator)

Application Instructions

Please complete an application in Interfolio with the following materials:

  • Cover letter stating interest in exploring curatorial work
  • CV
  • Statement of current research interests (no more than 1,100 words). This statement should include a description of a potential personal research project to work on during the Fellowship, preferably one related to APS collections or programs.
  • Excerpt(s) from dissertation (no more than 5,000 words). An excerpt from a draft in progress is acceptable.
  • Example of non-scholarly writing, if available is highly recommended.
  • A letter from a Department Chair or Director of Graduate Studies (or equivalent) confirming that the applicant will complete their Ph.D. by the required date.
  • Two confidential letters of recommendation that address the following questions:
    • Does the applicant have a sincere interest in museum studies and/or public history?
    • How would this fellowship advance their career goals?
    • Is the applicant able to research and write collaboratively? If possible, please provide specific examples.
    • How does the applicant respond to externally imposed changes to a project in which they are invested?

Please direct any additional questions to Adrianna Link at



About the APS

The American Philosophical Society (APS), the oldest learned society in the United States, was founded in 1743 by Benjamin Franklin for the purposes of “promoting useful knowledge.” In the 21st century, it serves to advance knowledge and promote scholarship in the humanities and social, mathematical, life, and physical sciences. Members of the Society are elected from among the most eminent scholars and civic and cultural leaders in North America and abroad. More than 100 living APS Members are Nobel laureates.

The APS Library & Museum’s collections make it among the premier institutions for documenting and exhibiting the history of the American Revolution and founding, the history of science from Newton to NASA, Native American languages and culture, and the development of American anthropology. The Library houses over 13 million manuscripts, 350,000 volumes and bound periodicals, 250,000 images, fine art, and other objects. Museum exhibitions interpret these extensive collections for the regional, national, and international visitors who come to Philadelphia’s historic district. In so doing, the exhibitions aim to nurture the spirit of inquiry, promote critical thinking, and engender enthusiasm for object-based learning by using primary source documents and authentic objects. The Library & Museum also hosts a robust fellowship program, offering over 25 short-term and 10 long-term fellowships each year to scholars using its collections.

Application date
2 years
Humanities : Arts and Art history, History, Literature, Philosophy, Theology and religion