From James Madison University to Monticello to Colonial Williamsburg

SADAH alumna Emily Nootbaar selected as Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg’s Americana Foundation curatorial intern

School of Art Design and Art History

by Cameryn Norris ('22)


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After graduating in August of 2022 with a Bachelor of Arts in Art History and a minor in Anthropology, Charlottesville native Emily Nootbaar began preparing for post-grad life. Following travels abroad, establishing her goals, and adopting a dog, Nootbaar began applying for internships. Like many students, she shares that the internship application process is challenging. Nootbaar explains that she applied to several museums and institutions, "but the applicant pool for internships at some institutions is so large that it can be difficult to be selected, even if you are a good candidate!" Nevertheless, Nootbaar landed a part-time internship working in Monticello's Curatorial Department. There, she got a taste of what it would be like to work as a curator.

Emily Nootbaar and others studying abroad
Nootbaar studied abroad in Florence and Rome with SADAH after her graduation. 

After learning all things curatorial at Monticello, Nootbaar wanted to continue working in the field. She landed the position as the Americana Foundation Curatorial Intern in Paintings, Drawings, and Sculpture at the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg after another round of internship applications. Nootbaar looks forward to working on-site at Colonial Williamsburg and gaining more experience working with their Folk Art collection. "In addition to art history, I am very interested in cultural anthropology," shares Nootbaar. "I feel that folk art goes hand-in-hand with these two disciplines." She plans to add knowledge and experience of American Folk Art to her already-impressive repertoire of American Fine and Decorative Arts.

Thomas Jefferson's home, Monticello, where Nootbaar interned with the curatorial department.

Four years ago, a first-year studying Psychology, Nootbaar would be surprised to learn that she actually pursued Art History and landed multiple impressive internships after graduation. "I entered JMU planning to major in psychology, but I fell in love with Art History after taking a general education art history class," Nootbaar says. She shares that James Madison University's General Education Program helped her find her passion for Art History.

Nootbaar's graduation photo
Nootbaar graduated in the Spring of 2022.

"I would not be in my current field if it were not for SADAH," Nootbaar elaborates, sharing her many experiences at SADAH that influenced her career path. "My time as a SADAH student allowed me to take amazing classes, work with wonderful professors, and intern at ArtWorks, a student-run gallery space," shares Nootbaar.

She points to her mentor Dr. David Ehrenpreis as integral to her success, challenging and encouraging her as an undergraduate and alumna. Nootbaar also had the opportunity to present her research on the Lewis and Clark Monument in Charlottesville at SADAH's annual Art History Forum, building upon research she conducted in Dr. John Ott's Public Art in America class. Nootbaar still works on this research, expanding the project and continuing to grow her experience and expertise in the field.

Nootbaar's success in her undergraduate career is no-short-of impressive, and she continues to add to her remarkable resume. Her internship at Colonial Williamsburg as the Americana Foundation Curatorial Intern begins this month, and for the next year she will work full-time with the impressive team. After her internship, Nootbaar plans to pursue a doctoral degree in Art History, specializing in American Modernism.

Photos courtesy of Emily Nootbaar, 2022-2023.

Published: Monday, July 3, 2023

Last Updated: Thursday, November 2, 2023

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