Monday, November 29, 2010

Summer Work Project at Shelburne Museum

The Shelburne Museum is offering one summer work project in the conservation treatment of polychrome sculpture. The project will either be eight weeks or eleven weeks in duration. The intern will document and treat a carousel horse made by the Gustav Dentzel factory in 1902 over the course of eight weeks. As an optional three week extension, the intern will document and treat a rounding board from the carousel. Each project has been chosen by donors to Shelburne Museum’s Adopt a Carousel Animal Program. The animals are made of carved wood embellished with brass and glass ornaments. The rounding board is a painted flat wood panel. Past treatments of animals from the same carousel have involved removal of maintenance linseed oil coatings from the wood, metal, and glass surfaces and fabricating missing ornaments or portions of ornaments. More information on the history of the carousel and the project can be found in an article by Richard Kerschner and Nancie Ravenel, “Here We Go ‘Round Again: Cleaning Linseed Oil from Carousel Animals at Shelburne Museum” in JAIC 45 (2006): 201-210,


This project would be appropriate for a graduate level student or an advanced undergraduate level student. In return for undertaking this challenging internship nestled between the Adirondack and Green Mountains, we will provide a stipend of $1750 for eight weeks (June 6-August 1, 2011) or $2500 for eleven weeks (June 6-August 22, 2011) and a private room in a house shared with other museum interns. Interested individuals should send a cover letter, CV, and contact information for three references, only two of which may be from academia, to Nancie Ravenel at by January 17, 2011. Applicants should indicate whether the eight week or eleven week option is of interest.

Nancie Ravenel
Objects Conservator
Shelburne Museum
5555 Shelburne Rd.
Shelburne, VT 05482
802-985-3348 x3354

Monday, November 22, 2010

10 Tips for Becoming a Conservator

Tip #2: Join professional organizations

The purpose of a professional organization is to uphold standards of practice, and to provide educational and networking opportunities to its members. Most organizations charge for membership, but as a student you can usually pay a reduced fee, and it is well worth it for the benefits that you receive in return.

The largest organization for conservation in the United States is the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works . AIC publishes the Code of Ethics and Guidelines of Practice that all practicing conservators in the U.S. adhere to. Once you become a member, you will receive a directory of all members, a newsletter six times per year, and access to all of the online resources that AIC has to offer. Student membership is $65 for the calendar year, not including specialty groups.

Your local conservation guild is another group to take advantage of. Besides holding meetings, workshops and lectures, guilds tend to organize many tours and social events throughout the year—offering a great opportunity to meet other conservators. Fellow guild members can answer your general conservation questions, and relationships with other conservators will prove useful in the future when you’re looking for a job or when you’re in need of collaboration on a project. Regional organizations are listed on the website for the Conservators in Private Practice Specialty Group of AIC. Membership can range anywhere from $5 to $35 for students.

There are, of course, many more organizations on the international level, but I suggest starting locally so you don’t get too overwhelmed with newsletters and emails at first! Here’s a short list of conservation and related groups if you want to see what they have to offer:

International Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works

International Council of Museums Committee for Conservation

International Network for the Conservation of Contemporary Art

Canadian Conservation Institute

The Institute of Conservation

International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property

American Association of Museums

College Art Association

Saturday, November 20, 2010

October Meeting Minutes


October 21, 2010

Conference Call Attendees:
Ryan Winfield

Karen Pavelka

Carrie Roberts

Amy Brost

Heather Brown

Rose Daly

I. AIC Meeting (Karen)

a. AIC annual meeting location was moved to Philadelphia due to bankruptcy of previous venue. Group consensus was that the transition was handled very well, with clear communication throughout. Philadelphia will be an ideal location for students in the NYU and Delaware programs to attend, and the mid-Atlantic region is central for many AIC members, so it was good to be able to keep the 2011 meeting in the northeast.

II. Communications Update (Amy)

a. Conversation with Rachael Perkins Arenstein regarding AIC Publications. Rachael emphasized that ECPN members should feel free to send content for the AIC website, blog, etc. Students and emerging conservators are encouraged to send their research projects and theses to JAIC. For those wishing to submit content for the Wikis, each specialty group has its own approach and submission guidelines, and needs to be approached separately.

b. Conversation with Michele Derrick regarding JAIC Peer Reviewers. There were responses to the invitation and there is currently a robust list of prospective reviewers. They will be called upon depending on the nature of the submissions. There are two reviewers per paper, and although they remain anonymous, participants can certainly add “JAIC Peer Reviewer” to their resume under ‘professional affiliations’ or ‘service work.’

c. Four proposed ECPN logo designs and a flier design were submitted for discussion. The proposed flier has a tear-off ‘wallet card’ to make it easier to keep key information about ECPN, the blog, additional contact information, etc. Further discussion is needed regarding the appropriateness of having a separate logo for ECPN. Perhaps use ECPN logo in conjunction with the AIC logo. Flier will be used for ANAGPIC and perhaps other upcoming conferences.

III. Student Research Database (Carrie)

a. Carrie, Amber Kerr-Allison, and Sagita Sunara discussed the idea and would like to move ahead with a plan to create an online database of student research in conservation. Catalyst was the IIC in Istanbul and also the first annual Engaging in the Preservation of Cultural Heritage (EPOCH) student symposium (Austin, TX). At both conferences, students felt that they were largely unaware of the research projects underway in other parts of the world. EPOCH has many abstracts already. Standards would need to be developed (i.e., require a significant research component). A link could be created off the AIC webpage. Rose will organize a conference call with Lori, Carrie, Amber, and Sagita to determine next steps.

IV. Outreach Update (Heather)

a. Poster abstract for AIC 2011 meeting was submitted, though no feedback yet. ECPN members could take shifts spending time at the poster to talk to meeting attendees about the organization. Heather will take a flier to a meeting of emerging museum professionals the week of Oct. 25. Rose will make Heather an Admin on the Facebook page so she can remove spam. Julie Benner of the Glasgow Conservation Center has agreed to write a post for the ECPN blog.

V. Mentor Program (Ryan)

a. Most of the mentee applicants have been paired up with mentors.

b. The process for pairing mentors with mentees is as follows: Process mentee applications and search for appropriate match. Team of three people are reviewing prospective matches. Email mentor with proposed mentee information for approval. If the mentor agrees, s/he then contacts the mentee. Mentee approves of the match.

c. Need to fine-tune the application process to regulate the flow of applications. Perhaps create four submission “cycles” with deadlines. Promote the program for each cycle to AIC members.

d. Get back to people waiting for mentors to let them know when they can expect a response.

e. Karen agreed to reach out to prospective mentors. Heather/Rose will follow up on the specific needs of the mentees.

VI. International Student Conference (Carrie, for Amber)

a. Idea that there should be an international version of ANAGPIC, an association of international conservation training programs. Need to find out how receptive the organizations would be. Students are not fully aware of all training programs. An international student conference could be organized, perhaps an online conference. Concerns about the overlap with other conferences, costs of travel, technology costs. Need to study the feasibility of the idea and how it might be executed.

VII. “Become a Conservator” Web Page (Ryan)

a. Reviewed by ECPN per Ryan’s request. Group consensus that there could be more links, more graduate program information, and more on training. Break up the text by inserting more photos, personal touches like people profiles.

Next conference call 1 PM EST, Thursday, November 18, 2010.

Respectfully submitted,

Amy Brost

Monday, November 15, 2010

10 Tips for Becoming a Conservator

Many of us emerging conservation professionals agree that our initial venture into the field of conservation was somewhat unguided, and making connections with people was nearly impossible. With social media as accessible as it is today, information should be much more readily disseminated and networking with other students and conservators should be an obtainable goal.

Moving in that direction, I have compiled what I consider to be the ten most useful tips in pursuing a career in conservation; these tips were originally intended for pre-program students, but looking back through them, I believe they can apply to conservators of all levels. Being pre-program myself, I’m certainly no expert on ‘becoming a conservator,’ but I have taken the advice of faculty members at the conservation schools, my mentors, and my co-workers to compile this [hopefully helpful] list for you.

Paper conservation lab at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Tip #1: Visit conservators at their studio/lab

You can find conservators in your area by looking through the Geographical Index of the AIC directory (if you’re a member) or through the ‘Find a Conservator’ feature on the AIC website. Also, you can search for a specific city or museum through CoOL’s ‘Finding People’ page—just hit ctrl + F after choosing the country.

Touring a conservation studio provides both an educational and a networking opportunity. You will see how the space is set up, what type of equipment they use, and the treatments that are in-progress. Also, you have the chance to meet all of the people that work in that space and learn about each person’s path to becoming a conservator.

If you’re looking for internship experience, lab visits can be a way of getting your foot in the door; sometimes people are more willing to take you on as an intern after getting to know you in person. It may be a good idea to bring along a cv and portfolio of studio art to show your hand skills, and don’t forget to send a thank you card!

Stay tuned for tip #2....

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

TCC Back in Action

Frieze from Botanic Gardens Park, Glasgow

I have the pleasure and privilege of introducing the ECPN to the new incarnation of the Textile Conservation Centre! The TCC has had a long history of scholarship and practice in the conservation of historic and artistic textiles in the United Kingdom. Unfortunately the program closed at the University of Southampton in 2009, much to the chagrin of aspiring textile conservators like myself. I was so excited to see a notice on the TCC website this past spring, that the Centre would be getting a new life in Glasgow, Scotland.

From the TCC website:
"The TCC was founded by Karen Finch OBE in 1975 and was based at Hampton Court Palace. In 1998 it became part of the University of Southampton, in a purpose-designed building on its Winchester campus, but was closed by the University on 31st October 2009. Glasgow University, working with the TCC Foundation, is creating a new centre using all of the assets of the former TCC including equipment, the TCC library and intellectual property. "

Please see the TCC website for the official press release and photos!

The inaugural class is comprised of seven students - five from the UK, one from Canada, and myself from the United States. We have come from diverse academic and professional backgrounds and are now candidates for the two-year MPhil in Textile Conservation. Speaking for myself, it is a bit challenging - but mostly exciting - to be a part of this "guinea pig" first year. All of us scrambled to submit our applications when the course was approved in June, not knowing whether or not we'd be in Scotland in the fall. The TCC foundation has provided amazing support for the program - many many thanks to them!

This semester our courses are being accomodated within the History of Art building as we wait for a brand-spanking new lab to be completed for next semester. Without our "bespoke" (I have learned that's the British word for "custom-built!") facilities available this semester, we have had the opportunity to do practical labs and workshops at the Glasgow Museums Resource Centre - an amazing storehouse for the collections of the major Glasgow Museums. (Their institutional philosophy is one of more open access to collections for the community - so the facility strikes a very delicate balance between controlled store and exhibition space. Check out Glasgow Life for more information on Glasgow museums.)

Instructor Sarah Foskett (right)demonstrating the fine points of acid-free tissue to student Charlotte Gamper at Glasgow Museums Resource Centre.

The semester has already flown by. Visits to Glasgow Museums' Burrell Collection, the Hunterian Gallery and the Hunterian Museum on the Glasgow University campus, and the National Museums of Scotland conservation labs in Edinburgh have kept us busy along with our coursework. In the next couple of weeks we will be in chemistry exams, submitting sample object documentation, and writing final essays for our Material Cultures course, as well as preparing a literature review of research we would like to undertake on a topic of our choosing, perhaps to be used in our course-culminating dissertations at the end of the second year.

Students (from left to right) Nikki Chard, Hayley Rimington, and Beatrice Farmer show off a "cracking" packing job.

Meanwhile, the city of Glasgow beckons with its killer music scene, arts events, Indian and Pakistani restaurants to die for, and charming citizenry to meet out at the pub! City life isn't the only thing that Scotland has to offer, obviously - both the Scottish Isles and the Highlands are a train or bus ride away, offering the most inspiring beauty on those much-needed study breaks.

The author (Julie Benner) visits the Isle of Arran, off the southwest coast of Scotland

I really look forward to keeping the ECPN abreast of the developments here at the TCC and welcome any comments or inquiries about TCC or Glasgow!

St. George's Square, Glasgow

Edited 06 December 2010 to add University of Glasgow link to the program:

Monday, November 8, 2010

Mellon Fellowship at the Brooklyn Museum

The Brooklyn Museum
Andrew W. Mellon
Conservation Fellowships (2)
Object – Painting – Paper

The Brooklyn Museum announces the opening of two Fellowships in conservation supported by a permanent endowment established by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, to establish a permanent endowment to support fellowships in conservation. The two year fellowships , with the possibility of a third year, will be offered in either object, paper, or painting conservation beginning September 2011.

The Brooklyn Museum‘s collection and exhibition schedule offer varied and rewarding educational experiences in conservation. Fellows will be immediately involved in all aspects of the department, working with a diverse professional conservation staff, and interacting with colleagues throughout the institution to preserve and present art work.

Successful candidates should be graduates of a conservation training program or have equivalent experience. Applications should include a letter of interest, resume, and two letters of recommendation from conservation professionals, along with two detailed conservation condition reports, accompanying treatment proposals and treatment report with full documentation, all carried out completely by the applicant, all in hard copy. After initial review, selected applicants will be invited for an interview and portfolio review at the Museum.

The Museum should receive applications no later than December 1, 2010. Candidates will be selected for interviews in January- February 2011, and the final selection awarded in March 2011.

The starting salary is $33,000 / year with full Museum benefits, including annual leave and medical benefits, and a travel allowance of $2,500 to support professional development.

Applicants should be sent to: Conservation Fellowship//The Brooklyn Museum// 200 Eastern Parkway//Brooklyn, New York, 11238

All further inquires should be sent to the previous address or Brooklyn Museum is an Equal Opportunity Employer. Applicants for positions are considered without regard to race, creed, color, country of origin, sex, age, citizenship, disability or sexual orientation. Candidates of color are strongly encouraged to apply. The Immigration and Control Act (1986) requires that all hires be in conformity with the law.

Kenneth S. Moser
Carol Lee Shen Chief Conservator
Vice Director for Collections
The Brooklyn Museum
200 Eastern Parkway
Brooklyn, New York 11238