Photograph Conservator (Austin, TX, USA)

The Harry Ransom Center The University of Texas at Austin seeks skilled, collaborative candidates for the position of Photograph Conservator. The Ransom Center is an internationally renowned humanities research library and museum at The University of Texas at Austin. Its holdings include 42 million manuscripts, one million books, five million photographs, and over 100,000 works of art. The Ransom Center hosts more than 60,000 visitors annually, including undergraduate and graduate students, scholars, and members of the public. It has a full-time staff of 90, with five conservators. Conservators and preservation technicians collaborate with colleagues in the Center’s Library, Education & Exhibitions, Scholarly Programs, and Curatorial divisions to support the Center’s mission to encourage discovery, inspire creativity, and advance understanding of the humanities for broad and diverse audiences through the preservation and sharing of its collections.

Since Harry Ransom’s purchase of Helmut and Alison Gernsheim’s photohistorical collec­tion in 1963, the strength of the Center’s photography collection has been its documentation of the history and evolution of the medium. In addition to five million prints and negatives encyclopedic in scope, the collection holds the archives of several photographers and over 600 pieces of photographic equipment from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. A growing library of more than 40,000 books and journals, focusing on the theory, technique, art, and history of photography, begins with early sixteenth-century English, German, and French treatises on optics and light-sensitive chemistry. The Center holds the complete negative and print morgue of the New York Journal-American, with nearly three million images. Approximately 200,000 press prints from the Magnum Photos agency’s New York print library, dating from 1929 to 2004, comprise the Center’s Magnum Photos collec­tion.

Position Purpose: Support the activities of the Photograph Conservation Lab by performing skilled conservation treatments, including technical and cross-disciplinary research as needed. Participates in a range of Preservation and Conservation Division operations towards the long-term care of the Harry Ransom Center’s collection holdings.

Essential Functions

  • Perform conservation treatments of all levels of complexity, including the historical and technical investigation of photographic processes and artist’s methods. Design and construct appropriate housings for storage of collection material.
  • Liaise and collaborate with curators, collection managers, exhibition staff, administrative personnel, and other Ransom Center staff with regard to the handling, housing, treatment, and exhibition of photograph collections. Attend meetings and participate in project development, execution, and related administration.
  • Participate in preventive measures, such as inspection of incoming collections and emergency preparedness, response and recovery among others.
  • Pursue independent studies and professional opportunities that further the field of preservation and Communicate to the Ransom Center’s audience through a range of methods on matters of photograph preservation.
  • Assist in the organization and maintenance of the Photograph Conservation Lab.

Required Qualifications: Master’s of Arts or Science degree in art conservation or Master’s degree in art or art history plus a certificate of advanced study in conservation. Demonstrated knowledge of materials and technologies encountered in the creation of photographic works. Demonstrated experience with analysis, documentation, conservation treatment, and preventive care for photographic materials following ethical standards for professional conservation practice. Demonstrated excellence in written and oral communication.

Preferred Qualifications: One or more years post-graduate experience in documentation, conservation treatment, and preventive care of photographs. Experience working with conservators and technicians in a team environment. Experience with collection survey techniques.

Application procedure: please go to and refer to posting number 180129010621. Applicants must upload a resume, submit a letter of interest and contact information for three references.

This position is security sensitive; conviction verification conducted on applicant selected.

The retirement plan for this position is Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS), subject to the position being at least 20 hours per week and at least 135 days in length.

Position target start date is September 1, 2018 or anytime prior.

The University of Texas at Austin is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer with a commitment to diversity at all levels. Security sensitive position; conviction verification will be conducted on applicant selected.