Moorman interning at Smithsonian for spring semester

University of Mississippi student Grace Moorman is in Washington for her spring 2019 semester working as a curatorial intern at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Portrait Gallery on a project that highlights the contributions of 20th century women to the arts.

Moorman, a junior art history major from Madison, started in January as a Smithsonian researcher working on the influence of American women artists in Paris in the 1920s as part of the exhibit “Brilliant Exiles: American Women in Paris, 1900-1939.”

A student in the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, Moorman had applied for several internships in Washington, and applied to the Smithsonian just before Thanksgiving. She quickly heard back and was offered the position.

“It happened so fast,” Moorman said. “In the series of five days, my whole spring semester had gotten turned around. I was floored, and I am still pretty floored, but I’m extremely excited.

“The reason this internship will be so good for me is that I want to curate. I want to work in an art museum setting and this is a huge stepping stone towards being able to do that.”

The National Portrait Gallery was created by Congress in 1962 with the goal of displaying portraits of “men and women who have made significant contributions to the history, development and culture of the people of the United States.” It has one of the only complete collections of presidential portraits outside the White House, including Gilbert Stuart’s famed “Landsdowne” painting of George Washington.


The collection has grown to more than 23,000 items in all formats, from prints to daguerreotypes to digital. Moorman will be part of the Smithsonian’s efforts to diversify its galleries. “I am going to be working on an exhibit about women who left the United States for Paris in the early 20th century,” Moorman said. “These women were avant-garde for their time, and as writers, artists, poets and others, they decided that going to one of the art centers of the world would be best for them.”

“The exhibit is going to explore their influences on their fields and why they were overlooked in United States history.”