Volume 4, Number 3, Sept. 1982, pp.1-7

Conservation Training Programs and Training Opportunities on the West Coast

by Nancy Conlin Wyatt and Catherine C. McLean

Art conservation is a field that requires a knowledge of art history, abilities in studio art, an understanding of chemistry as well as a desire to work with one's hands. Although it sounds straightforward, entering the field of art conservation can be a difficult endeavor and obtaining information about the field can be equally challenging.

The purpose of this article is to acquaint the reader with some possibilities which exist for individuals wishing to pursue a career in art conservation. Hopefully it will also be a valuable source of information for practicing conservators who are interested in the requirements and curricula of several formal training programs as well as those opportunities which other working conservators may offer. The information is presented in three sections. First, an introduction to the different approaches to art conservation training is given. Next, a description of six training programs is provided. Lastly, training opportunities on the West Coast are presented.

Apprenticeship or Formal Training Program?

Two distinct routes for entering the world of art conservation are identified: apprenticeship and formal training programs. The apprenticeship is a traditional, time-tested approach that has been used by many professions for centuries. The apprentice works for the master conservator for several years until he has learned the techniques, materials and methods of art conservation. This is learned through practical, on-the-job experience. After a time, the apprentice may be ready to enter a position with greater responsibility or he may desire additional experience.

The second route, training in a formal program is a relatively recent development, beginning about 20 years ago. The steps involved are clearly defined; completing them is the challenge. Most training programs require a B.A. degree and strongly recommend or require that the applicant have had some practical experience before entering the program. Museums, regional centers, or private conservators often provide this training. Although this work experience may be similar to that of the beginning apprentice, these individuals are expected to apply for admission to a training program. Training programs are found world-wide, offering a variety of degrees, certificates and diplomas. The programs discussed in this article are in the U.S. and Canada and they are from two to four years in duration. During, or after, a formal training program, the student gains practical experience through an internship. This takes place in a working conservation laboratory under the supervision of a master conservator. Internships generally last from one to two years. Frequently, the period of internship continues for several years, as a fellowship or advanced study, before a permanent position is found.

To outline the details of these two routes, two questionnaires were designed. The first questionnaire was sent to six training programs, four in the U.S. and two in Canada. In addition to completing the questionnaire, the training programs sent brochures, lists of requirements for admission, and portfolio requirements. The second questionnaire was sent to the 125 members of WAAC. Many of the questions were similar to those sent to the training programs, but were geared toward a broad spectrum of training opportunities including: apprentices, volunteer assistants or pre-professional interns, and interns. The information which follows is based on the responses received from these two questionnaires.

Training Programs

Nearly every conservator is asked: "How did you get into conservation and how can l?" Today's most frequent answer is: "Go to a training program." An incentive for the training program route is that several programs offer advanced college degrees and in today's competitive job market, this can be an advantage. Training programs give a student a basic groundwork in conservation principles and related scientific research. Students are taught by conservators, scientists, artists and craftsmen, each with different areas of expertise, techniques, and ideas. It is recognized that it may take several years of practical experience, beyond that which the programs offer, before a student becomes comfortable with his discipline.

Gaining admission to a training program is very competitive. It is not unusual for an individual to apply to several programs at once or to re-apply the following year if rejected. Only a few students are accepted into graduate level programs directly from undergraduate school. Nearly all applicants to programs have had some previous conservation experience. This gives added reassurance to the training programs that the applicant is reasonably sure of his career choice.

North American programs which offer students a broad background in the many disciplines of art conservation were selected. There are several institutions offering specialized training in areas of conservation and related sciences that are not covered in this article. Some of these programs include: architectural, archaeological, and archival conservation. Sources for information on these programs can be found in the bibliography. Currently, there are no formal training programs on the West Coast.

Responses were received from the six programs that were contacted. Because the programs have brochures that provide basic information, questions were focused on those areas not answered by the published literature.

Questions included: "How many applicants apply each year and how many are accepted?" "What is the cost (to the student) of attending the program and is funding available?" "How many students have graduated from the program and what percentage have chosen to remain in the field of conservation?"

The six programs discussed below are:

Students who are seriously considering applying to any of these programs should contact them directly for information and applications. For a more detailed description of each program, it is suggested that applicants contact recent graduates. Many graduates are working on the West Coast and the training programs will provide their names.

Cooperstown Graduate Program

The State University College at Oneonta, New York, opened the Cooperstown Graduate Programs in 1964. They initially offered two separate courses of study: American Folk Culture (now discontinued) and History Museum Studies. The Program in the Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works was founded in 1969. As of August 1982, 97 students have graduated and 97% have remained in the field of conservation.

The Cooperstown Program is designed to train students for professional practice in the care and treatment of works of artistic and historical importance. Emphasis is given to the identification of materials and methods of fabrication, their forms of deterioration, and the acquisition of skills necessary to preserve works of art. Areas of specialization include: paintings, objects and paper conservation.

The course of study is 3 years. The first 2 academic years are spent at Cooperstown. Through lectures and studio classes, the student concentrates on examination and documentation procedures as well as materials technology and deterioration processes. From the second semester onward, the student is active in the workshop under faculty direction. Using direct treatment experience, the student is introduced to a wide variety of techniques. Visiting consultants share their techniques with the students. The student selects his major area of concentration during the fourth semester.

During June and July after the first and second years, every student is assigned to an eight week summer work project at a selected museum or historic site in the U.S. The purpose of the project is to acquaint the student with some of the conservation challenges encountered after graduation. It is a good opportunity to put classroom learning into practical use, and the chosen museum or site benefits as well.

The third year is spent away from Cooperstown on an internship. The placement of the student is made by the program, taking into account the interests and needs of the student. Internships are generally at the laboratory of a large institution or regional center under the supervision of a master conservator. During the internship year, 30 days are allocated for selected research and study. Students return at the end of their third year for final comprehensive exams and the presumed award of a Master of Arts degree and Certificate of Advanced Study in the Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works.

The Cooperstown Conservation Center is located on the shore of Lake Oswego, just north of Cooperstown, NY, home of the Baseball Hall of Fame. The building, designed in 1969, is shared with the SUCO Biology Department. Within the building, there are several conservation studio workshops, an analytical chemistry laboratory, an examination room, a photographic studio, a wood and metal workshop, and a conservation library. The Center has extensive analytical equipment for use by the students.

There are three administrators and five faculty members. The faculty includes:

Dr. F. Christopher Tahk, Professor, Conservation Science
Ms. Cathleen Baker, Assistant Professor, Paper Conservation
Mr. Dan Kushel, Assistant Professor, Examination and
Documentation Techniques and Painting Conservation
Mr. Jonathan Thornton, Assistant Professor, Object Conservation
Mr. Gregory Thomas, Lecturer, Painting Conservation

The Cooperstown Conservation Program offers fellowships to students in the program for the three years of study. Application is made directly to the Conservation Program.

Eligibility for application to the program requires that individuals meet the minimum university standards and the program requirements.

Minimum University Standards:

  1. The applicant must be a graduate of an accredited 4 year college.
  2. Undergraduate GPA of 2.80 overall and 3.0 in the major field during the last two years of undergraduate work.
  3. Graduate Record Examination (GRE) minimum scores in the 45th percentile for verbal and quantitative tests.

Program Requirements.

  1. A minimum of certified academic credits as follows: History of Art, 20 semester hours (credits in archaeology and/or ethnology may be applicable) Chemistry, 12 semester hours (courses for science and/or pre-med majors, 4 semester hours must be organic chemistry) Studio Art, 8 semester hours (drawing, printmaking, painting, sculpture)
  2. Transcripts of all college work including proof of baccalaureate or advanced degree.
  3. An official transcript from GRE scores.
  4. At least 2 letters of recommendation from faculty members who are able to attest to the applicant's ability to successfully complete a masters program and 1 from a person qualified to comment on relevant work experience.
  5. A thousand word autobiographical statement explaining the applicant's interest in the field of art conservation and his or her professional objectives.
  6. A personal interview. Interviews are arranged with qualified applicants after the evaluation of completed applications. A portfolio of the student's studio art is required. Manual dexterity and color perception tests are given at the interview.

Inquiries and applications may be submitted at any time. The application deadline is February 1 of each year. Completed applications are required for evaluation. After the applications are reviewed, applicants are invited for a personal interview. Selection of students is announced in the spring for the fall semester.

For information and an application contact: Mrs Irma Cizek, Administrative Assistant, Art Conservation Center, Cooperstown Graduate Programs, Box 800, Cooperstown, NY 13326-0800.

Generally 45-60 fully completed applications are received each year for 10 positions.

Winterthur/University of Delaware Program

The Winterthur Program in the Conservation of Artistic and Historic Objects is a cooperative program between the Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum and the University of Delaware. The Winterthur Museum houses one of the largest collections of early American decorative arts dating from 1640 to 1840. The program began in the Fall of 1974 with a class of six students. Every class thereafter has had ten students. 56 students have graduated from the program and nearly all have remained in the field.

The Winterthur/University of Delaware program is a three year course leading to a Master of Science degree in Art Conservation. The program places emphasis on training in practical conservation work with strong supporting courses in materials science, analytical chemistry and art history. During the first year, the students are introduced to six major areas of conservation: painting; paper; textiles; glass, ceramic and metal objects; photography; and furniture. Concurrently, the students are enrolled in courses such as the Examination of Art Works, History of Technology and Techniques Used in the Fabrication of Art Works, and Properties and Structure of Art Materials. A comprehensive exam is taken at the end of the first year.

During the second year, the student concentrates in his chosen area of specialization with additional courses in scientific analysis and an elective. After the course work for the second year is completed, a written exam is taken in the student's area of concentration. The third year consists of an eleven month internship at a recognized conservation laboratory. An oral presentation summarizing the internship is required to complete the degree.

After the first and second years, the student is required to take part in an eight week summer work project. Summer work projects are selected by the program with two students assigned to a particular project. Project locations in the past years have included: Chester County Historical Society, West Chester, PA; Museum of Albuquerque, Albuquerque, NM; Shelburne Museum, Shelburne, VT; The Tel Anafa Archaeological Dig, Israel; Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington, DE.

The Louise du Pont Crowninshield Research Building at the Winterthur Museum houses one of the country's largest and best equipped group of museum analytical laboratories and conservation workshops. The students spend much of their time at the Winterthur Museum. Additional classrooms and science laboratories are located at the University of Delaware, Newark, DE located 17 miles from the museum. Having an automobile is strongly advised.

The program is administered by a director and an associate director. The faculty consists of six Winterthur conservators who hold adjunct university appointments, one full-time university member, and several university faculty from other departments including: Metallurgy; Chemistry; Geology; and Textile and Fiber Science.

As a supplement to formal instruction, conservation specialists visit the museum and university to lecture, and conduct seminars and short courses. Field trips introduce students to the resources in the area.

Ten fellowships are awarded annually. A full grant carries an annual stipend of $3900.00 and the payment of tuition fees. Third year internship stipends are $6000.00.

The requirements for admission are divided into 6 categories.

  1. Bachelor of Arts degree in any of the following major areas of study: archaeology, art history, chemistry, or studio art. These are the preferred areas of study but consideration will be given to applicants who meet the minimum requirements given below.
  2. Course Prerequisites.

    a) Art History--a minimum of the following four upper level courses, 12 semester credits (s.c.):
    Ancient Arts, 3 s.c.
    Medieval Arts, 3 s.c.
    Renaissance and Baroque Art, 3 s.c.
    19th and 20th Century Art, 3 s.c

    b) Studio Art--a minimum of the following five courses, 12 semester credits:
    Drawing--2 courses including figure drawing, object drawing and perspective, 6 s.c.
    Oil Painting--one course in still life or figure painting, 3 s.c. Color--one course in the study of color interaction, mixing and matching, 3 s.c.
    Three Dimensional Design--one course, either sculpture, ceramics, weaving, woodworking or jewelry making, 3 s.c.

    c) Chemistry--a minimum of the following four courses, 15 semester credits:
    General Chemistry--two courses with laboratory work, 8 s.c.
    Organic Chemistry--one course with laboratory work, 4 s.c.
    Physical Chemistry--one course, with or without laboratory work, 3-4 s.c.
    The general and organic chemistry requirements are to be met from standard four year college and university offerings. The physical chemistry requirement may be met by doing a special study for credit with a chemistry faculty member.

  3. Academic Index

    Applicants must have an overall academic index (on a 4.0 scale) of at least 2.5 and an index in the field of concentration of 3.0 during the last 2 years.

  4. Graduate Record Examination

    Applicants must submit results of the quantitative and verbal scores. A minimum total (verbal and quantitative) of 1050 is required for regular admission to the program.

  5. Conservation Experience

    It is strongly suggested that all applicants try to obtain experience in a conservation studio under a recognized conservator.

  6. Applicants must submit 3 letters of recommendation stating the applicant's ability to successfully complete the program.

The deadline for application is February 15. The top twenty applicants are invited to Winterthur at the end of March for a personal interview. This two day interview, with all twenty applicants, includes meeting with the Admissions Committee, presentation of a portfolio (ideal content is specified), manual dexterity and color blindness tests. By April 1, 10 applicants are notified of their acceptance to the program.

For further information and an application, write to: Director Art Conservation Program, 303 Old College, University of Delaware Newark, DE 19711.

New York University Program

The Conservation Center Program at the Institute of Fine Arts of New York University began in 1960. The Institute provides graduate programs in the history of art and archaeology, museum training, and conservation.

The Conservation Center provides a four year program in the history of art and conservation. Upon completion of the program, the student is awarded an M.A. in Art History and a Diploma in Conservation. The program combines an introductory study of the theory and practice of conservation with preparation for the M.A. in Art History during the first two years of study. Nine courses are required for the M.A. These courses are taken in seminars, lecture courses, colloquia and reading courses. A course must be taken in each of four of the following six areas:

  1. Ear East, India and Islam
  2. Ancient Near East, Egyptian, Greek and Roman
  3. Early Christian, Byzantine and Western Medieval Art to 1400
  4. Western Art, 1400 to 1750
  5. Western Art, 1750 to present
  6. Prehistoric and Primitive Art

A first-term paper is required. Two qualifying papers, each in different areas, are required. Examinations in French and German (reading knowledge) are mandatory. In addition to art history courses, the first year includes a series of classes in conservation. In the second year, students concentrate in their chosen area of specialization. The internship is generally two years in duration.

Currently, the Institute is situated in the James B. Duke house, located at 78th and 5th Avenue. Future plans include new conservation facilities at the Stephen Chan house, across 78th Street. These new facilities will cover 6 floors with separate areas for conservation treatments, scientific analysis, research and photography. The Institute has an extensive art historical and archaeological library as well as a photographic collection. The Conservation Center has a library with 5,000 bound volumes.

There are 11 faculty members, 5 research associates, 5 administrators, and 9 members of a Board of Consulting Fellows. Mr. Lawrence J. Majewski and Dr. Norbert S. Baer are the co- chairmen of the Conservation Center. Many of the faculty members are adjunct professors or lecturers who also work in the conservation field outside of the Institute. These include Mr. John Brealey from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Ms. Antoinette King from the Museum of Modern Art, and Miss Joyce Plesters from the National Gallery in London.

Unless a financial hardship is demonstrated, students pay all of their expenses, including tuition, during the first semester. After that, funding is provided for tuition, and living expenses can be earned through work/study programs. Funding is available for summer travel related to the field and the internship. Students must find places to live, since there are no dormitories near the Institute.

Students must apply for admission to the Institute and also to the Conservation Center Program. The Center requires an undergraduate degree and a demonstration of scholarly and scientific background. Applicants should have four art history courses and four science courses, two of them must be in chemistry including one in organic chemistry. Artistic ability must be demonstrated by a portfolio. Admission and financial aid applications must be submitted by January 15. For further information write to: Professor Lawrence J. Majewski, Chairman, Conservation Center of the Institute of Fine Arts, 1 East 78th Street, New York, NY 10021.

After the January 15th deadline, applications are reviewed and applicants are selected for interview. This takes place during the spring and the timetable is loosely set.

Fogg Internship Program

The Conservation Department of the Fogg Art Museum was established in 1928 as a center for art conservation and technical research in the field of fine arts. Prior to 1971, the Center offered an informal three year apprentice program. In 1971, a formal three year apprentice program was implemented (now discontinued). The Advanced Level Internship Program was initiated in 1977. 1980-81 brought about the full implementation of the Internship Program. This is not a program for the beginning student of conservation. In eleven years of the apprentice and intern programs, 39 individuals have completed the programs. 98% have chosen to remain in the field of conservation.

The internship at the Center for Conservation and Technical Studies is for 9 to 11 months. It is available in paintings, works of art on paper, and sculpture and objects, depending on the applicant's previous experience. During this period, emphasis is given to practical training in the examination of works of art from all cultures and periods. Advanced examination techniques are taught, such as metallography, petrography, microchemistry, X-ray and Beta radiography. Upon completion of the internship, the student is expected to be familiar with instrumentation techniques such as X-ray diffraction, X-ray fluorescence, polarized light microscopy and emission spectrography. Interns are encouraged to attend one Harvard curriculum course each semester. In addition, interns are involved with the museum's special exhibition and publication programs. Interns frequently work with curators and doctoral candidates on scholarly works involving authentication, attribution or the condition of works of art.

The Center is located in the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts. It consists of four adjoining laboratories, an administrative and record keeping area, a radiographic archive of over 4000 X-rays, and the Forbes Collection of Pigments.

The Fogg Art Museum has a collection of approximately 80,000 works of art. The Fine Arts Department of Harvard University and the university's Fine Art Library are also located in the museum.

The director of the Program is Mr. Arthur Beale. He is also the Objects Conservator and a Senior Lecturer of Fine Arts. Ms. Marjorie B. Cohn is the Associate Conservator of Works of Art on Paper and a Senior Lecturer in Fine Arts. Ms. Katherine Olivier is the Associate Conservator of Painting. There are two conservation scientists as well as several Assistant Conservators.

A certificate is awarded by the Fogg Art Museum, Center for Conservation and Technical Studies, upon satisfactory completion of the internship. This is not an advanced degree.

Funding is not guaranteed for the internship program, however, every effort is made to help the intern obtain sources for living expenses. Tuition is not charged for the internship program. Interns, who wish to take courses at Harvard University for credit, enroll as special students and are required to pay normal tuition fees.

There are 6 requirements for eligibility:

  1. At least 2 years of apprenticeship or formal training in conservation.
  2. A bachelor of arts degree (preferably in art history or applied art).
  3. At least one college level chemistry course Additional courses in material science are desirable.
  4. Competence in one foreign language.
  5. Extensive studio art experience.
  6. Demonstrable manual competence.

The Fogg has no application form. The following information is necessary for consideration:

  1. Curriculum vitae. Include summer jobs, special skills and languages.
  2. Official transcripts from all course work, undergraduate and graduate.
  3. At least 3 letters of recommendation from conservators, professors or others familiar with the applicant's skills.
  4. A statement by the applicant selecting an area of specialization (painting, paper, objects) and summarizing his qualifications.
  5. Submit a $5.00, non-refundable application fee payable to Harvard University.

Applications are due by January 1. By February 1 applicants selected for an interview will be notified. They will be asked to present a portfolio of their art work and conservation treatments. Notice of acceptance is by March 1 for an internship beginning September 1. Generally there are 30-35 applicants for 6 positions (2 in each area: painting, paper, objects). For further information, contact: Ms. Celia Kent, Staff Assistant, Center for Conservation and Technical Studies, Fogg Art Museum, 32 Quincy Street, Cambridge, MA 02138.

Queen's University Program

The Art Conservation Programme at Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada; was initiated in 1974 under the aegis of the Department of Art with substantial funding from the National Museums of Canada. To date, 90 individuals have graduated from the Programme and 97% have chosen to remain in the field of conservation.

The two year graduate program offers three different courses of study. Upon entering the program, students choose either:

  1. a treatment oriented program in fine art conservation leading to a M.A.C. degree, or
  2. a treatment oriented program in the conservation of artifacts leading to a M.A.C. degree, or
  3. a research oriented program concerned with scientific investigation in the field of conservation leading to a M.A.C. degree or, in some cases, a M.Sc. degree.

In addition, students gain experience in a recognized conservation laboratory in Canada or abroad by undertaking two internships, each three months in duration. These internships are similar to the summary work projects offered at Cooperstown and Winterthur, except that students usually choose internships that offer a stipend. There is no required third year internship but many post-graduates enter an internship for additional experience.

The Queen's Programme offers courses in painting and paper conservation, the conservation of objects made of ceramics, glass, metals and stone, and the conservation of artifacts of organic origin such as wood, leather, bone, ivory, and textiles. Practical, hands-on experience is stressed.

The conservation laboratories are annexed to the Agnes Etherington Art Centre. The labs contain the most up-to-date equipment for a wide range of conservation activities. Many other facilities at the university are used, including the Art Centre, the Douglas Library, the Art Departmental Library, the Department of Art, and several science departments.

There are five faculty members and three interdepartmental liaisons.

Professor and Head of Department of Art: K. Morand
Professor of Fine Art Conservation I. S. Hodkinson
Professor of Artifacts Conservation and Program Director H.W.M. Hodges
Associate Professor of Conservation Chemistry: J. F. Hanlan
Instructor in Photography R.F Irvine
Interdepartmental Liaisons:
Chemistry: M.C. Baird Assoc. Professor
Metallurgical Engineering: J.T.N Atkinson, Assoc. Professor
Physics: D. R. Taylor

Each of the three courses of study leads to a Master's of Art Conservation (M.A.C.) degree. Students in the research oriented program may work toward a Master's of Science degree if the student is registered in such a program in one of the collaborating science departments.

Canadian residents will usually receive a stipend of $3500.00/year. This is not guaranteed. For non-Canadians, there is no stipend. Non-Canadian students can apply for grants to cover the cost of tuition and other expenses. Here is a breakdown of costs as provided by the university. Living expenses may be more or less, depending on one's lifestyle. These costs are for one year (est. '82-'83).

Tuition for three terms, fall, winter, summer: $6000.00 (non-Canadians)

Health insurance: $130.00
Books: $250.00
Other materials: $150.00
Rent, approx, $250/month for 8 months: $2000.00
Subsistence, approx. $350.00/month: $4200.00
Travel: $270.00
? TOTAL: $13000.00

There is a graduate student residence, but most students live off campus.

Entrance requirements are dependent upon one's undergraduate degree.


  1. min. of 5 courses in art history, ethnography, archaeology or equivalent.
  2. min. of 2 courses in studio or workshop practice or equivalent.
  3. min. of one full university course in chemistry beyond grade 13 or equivalent

In addition, courses in organic chemistry are strongly recommended.


  1. min. of 2 courses in art history, ethnography, archaeology or equivalent.
  2. min of 1 course in studio or workshop practice or equivalent.

Preference will be given to candidates who exceed the requirements in any or all of the required subject areas.

Applications are due on February 1. Earlier application is advisable. Information and an application can be obtained from:

Professor H.W.M. Hodges, Program Director, Art Conservation Program, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario K7L 3N6 Canada.

Each year there are 65-100 applicants and 12 students are accepted. After the applications are reviewed, applicants are selected for an interview. Members of the faculty interview applicants individually and they may be required to take an oral, written and practical examination to test aptitude, color discrimination and manual coordination. A portfolio is required. The choice of material is at the applicant's discretion. These steps take place in the spring of the year of entry.

Fleming College Program

The Art Conservation Techniques Program at the Sir Sanford Fleming College; Peterborough, Ontario, Canada; was established in 1976. Its three year program trains conservation technicians at the undergraduate level. Their brochure states that a conservation technician "will be involved in the day-to-day maintenance and preservation of artifacts and art works, under the supervision of a qualified conservator." Since its inception, 19 technicians have graduated from the program and 95% have remained in the field of conservation.

The program is three years in length. The first two years (four semesters) are spent at the college. There is an established curriculum that gives the student a broad background in conservation, history of art, chemistry (including organic chemistry), photography, exhibitions, studio art, management, and administration. Students gain experience working with the conservation of textiles, paper, furniture and archaeological materials. During the summers, students are encouraged to find work in the field of conservation, however, it is not part of the program. In the third year, students spend two semesters working in a recognized conservation institute or laboratory in Canada.

The college has a conservation laboratory which provides the basic equipment and supplies required for the conservation of most types of museum artifacts. There is one full-time conservator on staff, Ms. Krysia Spriydowicz, M.A.C. Related courses, such as chemistry, business, and photography, are taught by instructors from other divisions at the college.

Graduates receive an Ontario Community College Diploma. Currently, students pay their own expenses for the first two years. A grant from the National Museums of Canada assists students with their living expenses during the final internship year. Here are the estimated costs for one year ('82-'83).

Tuition for two semesters (Canadians $550): $3355.00 (non-Canadians)
Books: $150.00
Living expenses (varies): $2500.00 total: $6000.00

The minimum requirements are an Ontario Secondary School Diploma or equivalent and a passing mark in grade 12 chemistry. For information and an application, write to:

Admissions Officer
Sir Sanford Fleming College
Brealey Drive
Peterborough, Ontario K9J 7Bl Canada

Applications are due January 1 of the entering year. A new class of students is accepted every other year. The next class, beginning in September 1, 1983, will admit 16 students. In 1981, for each place available, 2 applications were received.

Applications are interviewed on an individual basis and aptitude tests including color blindness, manual dexterity and color perception are conducted during the interview. Applicants are encouraged to bring a portfolio with them, although this is not a requirement for admission.

Training Opportunities on the West Coast

Practical experience is emphasized in all stages of conservation training. It is usually a prerequisite for gaining admission to a training program; it is a requirement for graduating from a program; and it is essential for one's professional competence as a conservator. The question is: "Which conservators will provide this opportunity?" As well as providing space, the supervising conservator must devote time and energy to advising and overseeing his trainees. Because of various work situations, not all conservators are able to fulfill this role.

In hopes of finding those who are willing to provide practical experience and guidance for students, questionnaires were sent to conservators on the West Coast in private practice and in institutions. Of the 125 WAAC members to whom the questionnaires were sent, 38% responded. In more relevant terms, 57% of the WAAC membership who are practicing conservators responded. An encouraging 74% of these conservators accept apprentices, volunteer assistants, pre-professional interns and/or interns.

The questionnaire asked for the conservator's name and address and whether or not he or she accepts apprentices or interns. For the purpose of this questionnaire, "apprentices" were defined as individuals with no prior conservation training and "interns" were defined as individuals with previous conservation training. In retrospect, it was realized that these terms were somewhat confusing. According to the responses, "apprentice" is a term with several interpretations. In the traditional sense it is used to refer to an individual who receives training by studying under a master conservator for a number of years. A variation of the term is used to refer to individuals studying under a master conservator for a shorter period of time, usually as a starting point for other training. It may be more appropriate to call this latter group of individuals "volunteer assistants"* or pre-professional interns** as has been suggested by the Balboa Art Conservation Center and Rocky Mountain Regional Conservation Center, respectively. This distinguishes individuals pursuing a traditional, long term apprenticeship from individuals planning to enter a formal training program.

There is general agreement that an "intern" has had prior conservation experience and is currently at an advanced level of training.

In addition, the questionnaire inquired about the programs and facilities offered by conservators. The respondents were asked for information on the duration of their programs, the application procedures, and financial arrangements. Finally, the questionnaire inquired about the success of the individuals who had received training under a private conservator's direction or at a museum or regional center.

The information that follows was compiled from the responses to the questionnaire.

Training Opportunities on the West Coast Museums

MUSEUMS                                 apprentices* interns none

The Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco
Objects                                      X
Paintings                                    X         X

The Huntington Library
(Library Science Degree)                               X

J. Paul Getty Museum
Antiquities Conservation                               X
Conservation of Dec. Arts                              X
Paintings Conservation                                 X

Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Conservation Research                                  X
Objects                                                X
Paintings                                              X
Paper                                                  X
Textiles                                     X         X

San Diego Historical Society                                    X

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art           X         X


Balboa Art Conservation Center               X         X

Pacific Regional Conservation Center                   X

Rocky Mountain Regional Cons.Center          X         X


Brigham-Young University                               X

UCLA Museum of Cultural History              X         X


Conservation Paintings, LTD.
Denise Domergue, Los Angeles, CA             X         X

Conservation Services
James Greaves, Santa Monica, CA                                 X

Daedalus, Paper, Oakland, CA                 X         X

Fraser-Giffords Art Conservation, Oil
on canvas and polychrome wood, Tuscon, AZ    X

Keyser, Barbara. Paintings, Vancouver, B.C.                     X

Kruth, Leslie M. Conservation of Works
of Art on Paper, Inc., Los Angeles, CA                          X

Paper Conservation. Cheryl Carrabba,
Seattle, Washington                                             X

Reiniets, Judith Ann Fine Arts Conservator,
Painting and Paper, San Francisco, CA                           X

Myrna Saxe and Associates, outdoor and
Monumental Works of Stone,
Masonry, Wall paintings, Sherman Oaks, CA    X         X

The Textile Conservation Workshop.
Carmela Simons, Winters, CA                  X         X

Robin Myron Tichane. Paintings,
San Francisco, CA                            X         X

Thompson Conservation Laboratory.
Jack C. Thompson, Art on Paper, Portland,
Oregon                                       X         X

Nathan B. Zakheim and Associates.
Paintings, Culver City, CA                   X         X

Zora's Artists Materials, Los Angeles, CA                       X

The 1981-82 WAAC membership list provides the addresses and phone numbers of the persons listed who provide training opportunities. Because there are often many conservators in a laboratory, the following names are given for clarification. Most conservators indicated that they do not have a specific procedure for application, nor a specific deadline.

The Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco
Objects - Ms. Elisabeth Cornu
Paintings - Mrs. Teri Oikawa-Picante

The Huntington Library - Mrs. Christy Hedges

J. Paul Getty Museum
Antiquities Conservation - Dr. Laurie Fusco, Academic Affairs Depart.
Painting Conservation - Dr. Laurie Fusco, Academic Affairs Depart.
Conservation of Dec. Arts - Ms. Barbara Roberts

Los Angeles County Museum of Art
All Departments - Mr. William R. Leisher

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art - Mr. James Bernstein

Balboa Art Conservation Center - Mr. Gary Wade Alden

Rocky Mountain Regional Conservation Center - Mr. Charles Patterson

Brigham Young University - Conservation Lab of Fine Arts

UCLA Museum of Cultural History - Ms. Benita Johnson

As the data suggests, there are a number of museums, universities, regional centers and private practices that are willing to accept trainees in their conservation laboratories. Those who do not accept apprentices, volunteer assistants, pre- professional interns, or interns stated that they simply do not have sufficient time or adequate space. However, policies do change, so, if you are seriously interested in working with a particular conservator or at a particular museum, inquire about current policies.

Qualifications for gaining admittance into a laboratory range from loosely defined to quite specific. Several respondents indicated that they accept apprentices without specific qualifications or previous work experience, however, a commitment to learning and manual dexterity are essential. Others require that their trainees have at least a B.A. degree and intend to enter a graduate training program. It is necessary for interns to have attended a conservation school or to have had considerable conservation experience.

Most of the trainee's time is devoted to hands-on practical experience under the careful supervision of the master conservator. The type and complexity of conservation treatments that are selected are based on the student's experience and interests. Some conservators broaden their programs by encouraging the students to read conservation literature, enroll in related college courses, take part in research projects, join professional groups, and attend professional meetings.

Some laboratories are million dollar facilities while others are small working areas with a minimum of equipment. For example, one conservator answered that her facilities are a small single room laboratory dealing primarily with pre-historic and ethnographic artifacts. The staff includes one full time conservator, a textile volunteer group of six people and two or three artifact volunteers. Another conservator replied that his 5200 square foot laboratory is staffed by six conservators, two technicians and two administrators. It is a full service regional center with departments of objects, textiles, paper, and paintings.

Apprentices, volunteer assistants, and pre-professional interns usually study for one or two years under a conservator. Generally entry level positions for these trainees are on a volunteer basis. After a year or so the apprentice may be paid. The volunteer assistant or pre-professional intern is expected to go on to a training program. Internships are usually for one year or whatever time is specified by the graduate program if the intern is fulfilling a requirement. Interns are usually supported by outside funding such as their training program or various foundations.

The majority of individuals who go into art conservation seem to stay in the field. On an average, respondents indicated that approximately 70 percent of their trainees are still following a career in art conservation or they are working in related museum departments such as registration, curatorial, or exhibition.

The avenues to becoming a conservator are just as varied as the treatments that conservators perform. From this discussion one can see that there are many possibilities which lead to a career in conservation. Although approaches may be different, they share a common goal: to train qualified art conservators.



American Institute for Conservation, Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice, 1511 K Street, N.W., Suite 725, Washington, D.C. 20005.

American Institute for Conservation, Guidelines for Apprenticeship Training, AIC Bulletin, Vol. 14, No. 1, pp. 113- 116.

ICCROM, International Index on Training in Conservation of Cultural Property, 1978, Via De San Michele 13, Rome 00153, Italy.

National Conservation Advisory Council, Conservation of Cultural Property in the United States, 1976, A & I - 2225, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. 20560.

National Conservation Advisory Council, Report of the Study Committee on Education and Training, 1979.

Information on programs in specialized areas not covered in this article:


National Conservation Advisory Council, Suggested Guidelines for Training in Architectural Conservation, 1980. Address above.

National Trust for Historic Preservation, Guide to Degree Programs in Historic Preservation, 3rd Ed., 1980, 1785 Massachusetts Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036.


Western Association for Art Conservation, "Archaeological Conservation," Newsletter, Vol. 4, No. 1, February 1982, p. 7.

Rowe, J.H., "Archaeology as a Career," in Archaeology, Vol. 14, No. 1, Spring 1961, pp. 45-55.


The Society of American Archivists, The Society of American Archivists Education Directory, P.O. Box 8198, University of Illinois at Chicago Circle, IL 60680.

Professional Organizations

United States:




* volunteer assistants--students with strong academic and practical backgrounds who are committed to further study and are likely to be admitted to a graduate training program (BACC).

** pre-professional intern--students intending to enter a professional school of conservation with the majority of academic work completed (RMRCC).

* Respondents used the term apprentice in a variety of ways. It may mean that they accept either traditional long term apprentices, volunteer assistants, or pre-professional interns.

 [WAAC]  [WAAC Newsletter]  [WAAC Newsletter Contents]  [Search WAAC Newsletter]  [Disclaimer]

[Search all CoOL documents]