Internship, Volunteer and Work Experience

Current Opportunities

Curatorial Internships Programme

The National Portrait Gallery occasionally appoints Interns in its Curatorial department to provide collections related assistance. These posts involve working directly with specific curators and are aimed at Post Graduate students with an academic background or otherwise proven interest in the chosen period or area of research.

Internships provide valuable experience in a national collection and some training using the Heinz Archive and Library will be provided. Additionally there will be the opportunity to attend a Gallery induction day to learn more about the range of the Gallery's work and participate in the Department’s monthly curatorial training sessions. The posts are normally for a six-month period working one-day per week.

Collaborative Doctoral Partnerships

In 2013 the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) awarded the Thames Consortium, comprising the National Portrait Gallery, the National Maritime Museum and the National Archives, six Collaborative Doctoral Partnerships (CDPs) per year for the next three years. These CDPs are intended to support doctoral research within the Thames Consortium in collaboration with various UK Higher Education Institutions.

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The Heinz Archive and Library

The Archive and Library depends on the support of volunteers to assist with a range of activities, including indexing, dry-mounting and filing portrait images, processing and filing archival material for Gallery Records, and cataloguing and other library projects.

All opportunities are advertised on the Gallery website at intervals in response to specific needs and programmes. Applicants are usually invited to attend an informal interview as part of the selection process.

Learning Volunteer Internships

Learning is at the heart of the Gallery’s work and the Learning team runs programmes and activities for a wide range of new and existing visitors. All activities are designed to deepen visitor engagement with the Collection and explore ideas of inspiration and achievement through the stories and diversity of those represented. Volunteer internships offer a great opportunity to support this work and to gain direct experience helping visiting schools and teachers, young people, families, gallery educators and freelance artists. These opportunities are advertised on the Gallery website usually in February or July and successful applicants will be invited to attend an interview.

National Programmes Internship Programme

Internships in National Programmes, which are connected to activity outside the Gallery, are advertised on the Gallery website alongside Curatorial Internships when available.

Work Experience and Student Placements

The National Portrait Gallery works in partnership with local schools (via the Westminster Education Business Partnership), to provide two-week placements for year 10 students.  We also support local colleges and universities to place students as part of their courses.

As a small organisation we only have placements for around 10 students per year and do not take speculative applications. has been designed and produced by members of the Culture Quarter Programme. It has been created by young people for young people. Take a look at the practical advice for finding and getting the work placement you want, learn about the kinds of work experiences available in the arts in the case studies section and browse through the various placements available to you! hopes to inspire you to think more widely about the job possibilities within the arts and provide useful advice on finding work experience opportunities available in the industry.

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Career Pathways

There are many different careers involved in museums and galleries and at least as many different routes to working in these roles. Hear about how employees from the National Portrait Gallery and partner museums and galleries have come to work in their positions, what their roles involve and about the skills that they need.

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