The Dedalus Foundation: Graduate Research Essay Prize at the Archives of American Art

The Dedalus Foundation Graduate Research Essay Prize recognizes original research by a graduate student that engages deeply with the collections at the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art. The prize-winning essay will present an innovative argument directly supported by primary sources. Critical questions may be explored through a single source or a discrete set of materials at the Archives.

With more than 20 million items in its continually growing collections, the Archives is the world’s largest resource dedicated to collecting and preserving the papers and records of the visual arts in the United States. Students may consult original documents by appointment at the Archives’ headquarters in Washington, DC, view more than 2.5 million digital files and interviews online through the Archives’ website, or use the substantial microfilm holdings available through interlibrary loan or an affiliated research center.

The Dedalus Foundation was founded in 1981 by the artist Robert Motherwell to support public understanding and appreciation of the principles of modern art and modernism.




  • Essays must be written in English
  • Essays must focus on aspects of painting, sculpture, and the allied arts from 1940 to the present day
  • Essays must be original and not under consideration for publication elsewhere
  • Essays must be a maximum of 3,000 words in length, inclusive of endnotes, with 4 to 6  illustrations

The competition is open to students enrolled at the time of submission in a graduate program in art history, visual studies, American studies, or related fields, and to emerging scholars who have completed their doctoral dissertations within 12 months of the submission deadline (i.e., after September 15, 2019)


Email the following as PDF attachments to by or before September 15, 2020:

  • Cover sheet with the essay title, author name and contact information, name of academic advisor, department/program, and university (the author should not be identified anywhere else)
  • Abstract of no more than 150 words
  • Essay text should be double-spaced, with endnotes; text and notes should conform to The Chicago Manual of Style
  • Illustrated, numbered list of proposed figures, with complete caption information


Please direct questions to Essays will be judged by two Archives of American Art Journal advisory board members, an Archives staff member, and a Dedalus Foundation representative. Prize participants will be notified of the outcome of the competition by October 15, 2020.


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