What is Art Conservation?
Conservation is a field dedicated to all aspects of preserving cultural heritage.How does one become an art conservator? After college courses in general chemistry and organic chemistry, art history, and studio arts, trainees complete multiple internships with conservators and at museums. Then a conservator-in-training usually goes to one of the select few graduate schools for conservation in the United States. Graduate coursework includes study of the materials and techniques of art production throughout history, the science behind preservation and degradation of art, the chemistry of adhesives and other methods to stabilize and restore artifacts, the various environments in which art and artifacts exist, and practical treatment and preservation of cultural heritage. Analyzation techniques such as X-radiography, elemental analysis, and molecular composition and the use of high-tech lighting and microscopy instruments are practiced and understood. The final year of graduate training is a year-long internship in a museum. Additional fellowships and jobs in conservation strengthen the conservators’ knowledge of practical aspects of conservation. Specialties in conservation include objects conservation (3-D art and artifacts), paintings conservation, paper conservation, and textiles conservation, with sub-specialties to include more specific types of artifacts.