Museum/gallery Conservator

Museum/gallery Conservator Job Description

Museum/gallery Conservators Care For Cultural Collections By Applying Scientific Methods To Preserve And Restore Artefacts. Their Work Mainly Involves Monitoring And Controlling The Environment In Which Collections Are Stored Or Displayed To Prevent Deterioration. They May Also Restore Individual Objects Directly.

Conservators May Be Involved In Conservation Science And Preventive Conservation And May Manage Laboratories Or Have Individual Research Interests.

Some Conservators Are Generalists, Applying Conservation Techniques To A Range Of Objects, While Others Specialise In Any One Of The Following Areas: Archaeology; Ceramics And Glass; Furniture And Wood; Gilding And Decorative Surfaces; Historic Interiors; Metals; Paintings; Paper And Books; Photographic Materials; Stained Glass; Stone And Wall Paintings; Or Textiles.

Museum/gallery Conservator Duties/Functions/Responsibilities

  • proposing and estimating the costs of treatments to halt decay and reveal the true nature of objects;
  • debating with colleagues to justify a proposed treatment regime;
  • monitoring and recording display and storage conditions with the aim of keeping objects in a stable condition;
  • using a range of instruments such as scalpels, cotton swabs, dental and carpentry tools, and solvents/adhesives;
  • organising the logistics of long-term projects and collaborating with other conservators in person and by email;
  • working out creative solutions to clean, support and repair sensitive objects;
  • examining artefacts, both visually and using scientific tools such as x-rays, infrared photography and microscopic analysis to determine the extent and causes of deterioration;
  • maintaining full conservation records by writing up notes on the object's condition and any previous restoration work that has been done;
  • producing a visual record of the object for identification purposes and to illustrate its condition;
  • recreating historically accurate finishes, such as mixing traditional paints from scratch;
  • developing and maintaining appropriate standards within the specialist area;
  • hosting laboratory or site tours for school groups and other visitors;
  • delivering talks and presentations to amateur and professional audiences;
  • supervising volunteers, interns, junior conservation staff and students;
  • liaising with museum curators and other colleagues and sometimes helping to set up exhibitions;
  • advising other organisations on conservation issues;
  • accompanying objects in transit to other locations;
  • handling fragile or decayed objects found during work in the field and on archaeological excavations. 
  • keeping up to date with the latest conservation techniques and practices, through research and training. 

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