Job Posting: Andrew W. Mellon Senior Conservation Scientist – Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, MI)


Andrew W. Mellon Senior Conservation Scientist

Conservation Department
Full-time, Exempt
Salary, commensurate with experience
The Detroit Institute of Arts seeks applicants for the Andrew W. Mellon Senior Conservation Scientist position. The successful candidate will head the Analytical Science Lab in the Conservation Department and will be responsible for developing and implementing a conservation science program in support of research and preservation of DIA collections ranging from antiquity to the 21st century. Significant previous experience in a museum conservation environment is required. The candidate will be expected to possess research/analysis experience applicable to a wide range of artists’ materials both organic and inorganic. The individual will join a department that includes conservators of paintings, objects, and paper; an imaging specialist; and a mount designer and fabricator.
This position reports to the Director of Conservation.  
Research and Analysis

  • Works in collaboration with DIA conservators and curators in the examination and analysis of a broad range of artists’ materials and degradation products, both organic and inorganic
  • Interprets analytical data and communicates the results in a manner that fosters the understanding of artists’ materials and techniques and the preservation of the DIA collections
  • Conducts non-destructive analysis on works of art under consideration for purchase in support of the conservation condition assessments submitted to the DIA Collections Committee
  • Develops and coordinates cooperative technical studies of DIA objects with academic colleagues and other museum scientists, and collaborates in the writing of papers for publication in art historical, conservation, or scientific journals
  • Stays abreast of developments in the application of scientific techniques to the analysis of artist’ materials through journal research and attendance at conferences and seminars

Educational Outreach

  • Communicates effectively the work of conservation science to both professional colleagues and non-technical audiences through tours, lectures, web content, and video
  • Instructs and supervises fellows, interns, and students in the understanding and performance of materials analysis
  • Participates in exhibition development and museum education initiatives

General Duties

  • Maintains the instrumentation in the lab— microscopes, micro-FTIR spectrometer, micro-Raman spectrometer, Artax XRF spectrometer, Bruker handheld XRF spectrometer, ultramicrotome, and analytical balances
  • Maintains excellent records of conducted analyses
  • Develops and administers the budget of the analytical laboratory
  • Maintains communication with technicians and applications specialists at analytical instrumentation companies
  • Maintains appropriate X-ray license registration with the State of Michigan
  • Tracks dosimeter monitoring for X-ray users in the Conservation Department
  • Analyzes proposed case and mount materials for gallery and special exhibition installations


  • Ph.D. required in chemistry or other physical science
  • Minimum of 5 years of experience in a museum conservation science laboratory
  • Cross-cultural knowledge of art and art history
  • Working knowledge of scanning electron microscopy/ energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (SEM/EDX), polarized light microscopy (PLM), X-ray diffraction (XRD), gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC-MS), and high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC)
  • Experience in grant management and instrumentation evaluation
  • Broad, in-depth knowledge of artists’ materials and techniques relating to paintings, 3-D artworks, works on paper, and textiles
  • Ability to operate and maintain scientific instrumentation, including:
    •  X-ray fluorescence spectrometers (Artax and Bruker hand-held)
    •  Micro-Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectrometer
    •  Micro-Raman spectrometer
    •  Ultramicrotome for cross-section preparation and other relevant sample preparation techniques
    •  Microscopes
    •  Analytical balances
  • Experience in developing and administering a budget
  • Knowledge of radiation safety
  • Ability to communicate and collaborate effectively with conservators, curators, collections management staff, museum educators, academic scientists, and scientists from other museums
  • Ability to effectively communicate the work of conservation science to non-technical audiences
  • Ability to analyze data and prepare technical reports
  • A record of peer-reviewed research and publications
  • Demonstrated ability to show initiative and resourcefulness in handling difficult and unusual analytical problems

Interested applicants for this position must submit a cover letter, resume/curriculum vitae, and writing sample online at  Applications will be accepted until the position is filled.