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Head of Conservation

San Francisco, California, US
Closing date
Nov 27, 2021

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Academic / Research
Conservation science
Salary Type
Employment Type
Full time
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for the American Institute for Conservation and Foundation for Advancement in Conservation
Head of Conservation (San Francisco, CA, USA)
  • Supervises: Subordinate Conservation Staff, both professional and non-professional
  • Department: Conservation
  • Division: Art & Programs
  • FLSA Status: Exempt
  • Funding: Foundation
  • Representation: Non-represented

Directs and manages the staff and activities of the Conservation Center and Laboratory; supervises and performs highly skilled work in the examination, research, treatment, documentation, and preparation for exhibition of Asian art and objects; oversees materials analysis including instrumentation, procedures, and research design, and serves as the museum's chief spokesperson on conservation issues.

The nature of the work involves manual dexterity, intense concentration, and aesthetic sensibility in addition to excellent management skills. The incumbent must be able not only to perform high level conservation duties but also to supervise and evaluate staff, develop and manage budgets, write and manage grants, and assume overall responsibility for the effective functioning of the Conservation Center and Laboratory.

  • Manages the daily operations of the Conservation Center Laboratory, including the direction, supervision, and evaluation of departmental personnel, interns, and volunteers; develops and administers the departmental budget and special project budgets as required, assists with preparation of grant applications; insures the effective integration of conservation activities with other museum departments.
  • Supervises and sets priorities for conservation staff in the preservation, conservation, and restoration of the museum's collections; performs and/or oversees the condition reporting and treatment of outgoing and incoming loans, new acquisitions, and art installed in exhibitions; maintains records and ensures they are incorporated into the museum's collection database.
  • Performs highly skilled work in connection with the examination, preservation, repair, exhibition and storage of works of Asian art; conducts research to determine appropriate materials and techniques to conserve deteriorated or damaged art; recommends and performs emergency treatments; performs scientific tests and aid in the analysis and authentication of works of art; consults with curatorial staff on identification, authentication, dating and related issues.
  • Based on current professional knowledge and research, establishes standards for the preservation of artworks, including special requirements for preservation of time-based media and contemporary art in general; determines procedures for the care of artworks within the museum and on loan; devises restoration and preservation methods and techniques; prepares, or manages the preparation of, necessary records and reports to document the treatment of art; supervises analytical services including the operation of radiological equipment, and the design, installation, and maintenance of environmental control equipment.
  • Working with the curators, determines priorities for treatments of objects that must be sent to outside specialists for conservation and/or mounting; researches and recommends such specialists; makes necessary arrangements for consultant services and monitors the quality and appropriateness of treatments performed.
  • Conceives and develops research or conservation projects; participates in preparing applications for grants to fund them.
  • Publishes articles describing conservation research and techniques, prepares written and oral presentations for general public, connoisseurs, museum staff, and conservators.
  • Insures that the Conservation Center and Laboratory's procedures, materials, equipment, and instrumentation for research and conservation are up-to-date and consistent with the highest professional standards. Oversees continued maintenance and functionality of equipment, including polarized light microscopy, x-ray fluorescence, x-radiography and short-wave infrared imaging and digital imaging.
  • Insures that health and safety policies and regulations are adhered to by Conservation department staff, including chemical hygiene and radiation safety.
  • Represents the Conservation Laboratory within the museum and externally; provides information on conservation matters to staff, colleagues and the public.
  • Travels to other museums and other lender's premises as necessary to examine works, prepare condition reports, do onsite treatments and courier artworks.
  • Stays abreast of current research and best practices with in the conservation field.

Performs other related duties as assigned.

  • Master's Degree in Art Conservation from a recognized college or university, or a Master of Arts Degree in Art History with a Certificate in Conservation from a recognized conservation training program, or equivalent experience.
  • Eight (8) years of verifiable museum conservation experience, beyond the degree or certificate with the techniques, materials, and equipment used in the conservation of Asian art objects, or an equivalent combination of education, training, and experience. Experience must include at least two (2) years of supervision.
  • Demonstrated knowledge of the following: the technology, materials, and equipment used in the conservation of works of Asian art; procedures related to the examination and the preventative and corrective treatment of art objects; the environmental and handling requirements for storage, exhibition and travel of art objects
  • Demonstrated knowledge of advanced conservation equipment including polarized light microscopy, x-ray fluorescence, x-radiology and short-wave infrared imaging and digital imaging
  • Ability to: examine and determine the condition and conservation needs of works of art; plan, direct, and implement research strategies to determine the date, authenticity, and fabrication of Asian art objects; work collaboratively with Curatorial staff on research projects
  • Ability to provide sound advice and recommendations regarding the design of facilities and displays to ensure the proper display, storage, safety and treatment of works of art
  • Ability to organize and manage complex projects; analyze complicated administrative problems, evaluate alternative solutions and adopt effective courses of action; develop and manage budgets
  • Ability to supervise, direct, motivate, and evaluate departmental staff, interns and volunteers; establish and maintain cooperative and effective working relationships with museum staff, visitors, volunteers, donors, and representatives of other museums
  • Strong leadership, interpersonal, planning and organizational skills; excellent written and oral communication skills; effective presentation, negotiation, problem solving, and conflict resolution skills

Familiarity with software including MS Office; museum collections databases such as TMS or Argus; analytical software such as S1pXRF and Artax; and imaging software including Adobe Photoshop, Bridge and Elements.

Involves working in a conservation laboratory, utilizing appropriate chemicals and equipment. Art handling responsibilities require manual dexterity and physical agility. May involve some travel.

To apply, go to: .


727 15th St., NW | Suite 500 | Washington, DC | 20005
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