ECPN Spring Webinar Announcement: Lights, Camera, (Preventive) Action! Careers in Preventive Conservation

The Emerging Conservation Professionals Network (ECPN) is pleased to announce our upcoming webinar, “Lights, Camera, (Preventive) Action! Careers in Preventive Conservation” taking place on Thursday April 26th from 12:30-1:30 pm EDT.

Preventive conservation is an integral part of many cultural heritage jobs, encompassing any actions meant to minimize the deterioration of collections. But what does this look like in practice, exactly? And how is this role addressed in conservation training? Find out in this webinar, which will feature an introduction to the concept of preventive conservation and highlight potential career paths into this vital specialization.

ECPN has invited three speakers to provide their perspectives on this topic.  Dr. Joelle Wickens, Preventive Conservator for Winterthur Museum, Gardens & Library and Associate Director of the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation (WUDPAC), will provide an overview of preventive conservation activities, skills, and training. This will be followed by a facilitated discussion in which Jessica Pace, Preventive Conservator at New York University Libraries, and Jamie Gleason, Associate Preventive Conservator at the National Gallery of Art, will touch on their own career pathways into this conservation specialty and their own roles and responsibilities at their respective institutions. 

ECPN is seeking questions for the facilitated discussion session with our speakers. To submit your questions in advance, please post in the comments section below or send them via email to Questions will be accepted until the morning of the webinar, or can be submitted during the presentations via the GoToWebinar platform.

Attendance is free and open to all AIC members. Please register here to watch the webinar. If you are unable to view the program on April 26, or are not a member of AIC, the full video will be recorded and uploaded onto the AIC YouTube Channel following the broadcast.

Please see below to learn more about our speakers:

Dr. Joelle D. J. Wickens is Preventive Conservator for Winterthur Museum, Gardens & Library and Associate Director of the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation (WUDPAC). She received her Ph.D. in Conservation and MA in Textile Conservation from the University of Southampton, United Kingdom, and BA in American Civilization from the University of Pennsylvania, USA. Joelle’s current research includes: the development of techniques that quantify and mitigate outside light in a manner sympathetic to the historic house environment; devising accessible and sustainable storage practices for museums with limited staff; the development of materials and courses for the teaching of preventive conservation.

Jessica Pace is the Preventive Conservator at New York University Libraries.  She received her MA in Art History and CAS in Conservation from the Conservation Center at NYU, and her BA in Art History and Visual Arts from Barnard College.  Prior to this role, she worked in objects conservation at the Brooklyn Museum, the American Museum of Natural History, and the Archaeological Exploration of Sardis in Turkey.  Her current projects include devising accessible and economical housing for archival collections, creating training programs in preventive techniques for librarians and archivists, and improving housing and handling of materials during transport.

Jamie Gleason is the Associate Preventive Conservator at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. He earned his MA (CAS) in Object Conservation from Buffalo State College in 2013, and a BA in Art History from the State University of New York at Albany. Jamie began his career at the National Gallery as the Andrew W. Mellon Fellow in Object Conservation, moving to the Gallery’s newly formed Preventive Conservation Department in 2015. He has worked at museums and cultural institutions across the United States. Before pursuing his interest in conservation, Jamie worked as a picture framer for seven years.

ECPN’s Follow-Up to the Fall Webinar on Preparing and Maintaining a Conservation Portfolio—Q&A and Other Resources

ECPN’s webinar “Showcasing Your Work: Preparing and Maintaining a Conservation Portfolio,” took place on November 14, 2017 and featured presentations by Susan Heald and Gwen Manthey. Please see the previous blog post announcing the webinar for more extensive biographies of our speakers, and visit AIC’s YouTube Channel for the full recording of the webinar.

Several questions from viewers could not be addressed during the webinar due to time constraints; however, the panelists have generously answered them here.


Should you adapt portfolios for your audiencefor example, academic institutions, nonprofits, museums, private practice?

Susan Heald: I would keep a full portfolio of your work for yourself in whatever method you chose to save it, but I would adapt the portfolio for a target audience when you’re submitting an application for an internship/fellowship/job.

Gwen Manthey: Absolutely. Doing research about the collections will help you in choosing what projects to share. For museums and academic institutions (interviews or even a lab visit), I tend to review three to five past annual reports  to see the size of the conservation department, who is working there, if conservation is promoted in the report, and what is actively being conserved. Annual reports provide information on what they are actively acquiring, and this research helps me develop my portfolio. In addition to related artists, time periods, and materials, I like to make sure my portfolio represents every facet of conservation: research, technical analysis, innovative treatments, and the strengths of my hand skills. If I’m lucky, these facets overlap on selected projects, even if the object itself isn’t a direct reflection of their collection. When it comes to my private work and from my experience working with other private conservators and regional centers, it’s about time-management, problem-solving, flexibility in working on-site, effective communication when working solo or on a team, and efficient report-writing.

Is there an ‘expiration date’ on your previous work? For example, is there a certain point at which you would recommend excluding pre-program or program course work to feature more recent but perhaps less-relevant work? 

Susan Heald: That’s a good question. I don’t think there should be an expiration date—sometimes earlier work can still be advantageous to include, especially if it is more relevant to a project than more recent work that’s not relevant.

Gwen Manthey: For things that are several years in the past, I might still include the treatment reports and the critical images, but not focus on them when preparing a presentation or guiding someone through your portfolio. If a past project comes up in the conversation, I find it can be useful to discuss what I might do differently at this stage in my career or inquire how my colleagues and mentors may have approached it. Big projects, even many years past, have developed your knowledge and skills.

If you are seeking to showcase your experiences in a digital format, would you recommend building an online presence through platforms such as LinkedIn or in addition to a digital portfolio, or do you find it’s more worthwhile to focus efforts on one comprehensive website? Gwen, do you have thoughts on the logistics of potentially maintaining and coordinating multiple online profiles? And Susan, what is your perspective on this as a reviewer?

Susan Heald: As a reviewer, I would just want the portfolio to be easily accessible in whichever format was chosen, and a password-protected site would be just fine—as long as the password is provided.

Gwen Manthey: Yes. The benefit of the LinkedIn profile is that the end-user does not necessarily need to have their own account to view your profile, as it is free; if you ever let your paid website expire, the LinkedIn profile can live on. It may be easier for someone early in their conservation career to develop a LinkedIn profile and have a digital portfolio at hand and ready to share in a cloud-based service, rather than creating and maintaining a paid website. My LinkedIn profile serves as a digital master C.V. It is directly accessible from my website; in fact, this question prompted me to make sure it was also accessible from the “Conservator” page, where my background information lives. I feel it is prudent to have at least one profile that is dedicated to my entire conservation career, independent of the website, developed with my private practice in mind. If my website served solely as an e-portfolio, I might have the entire C.V. accessible. I want to make it clear that museums where I have been employed were not “clients,” but naturally, my private work has benefited from the exposure to skilled colleagues at those museums. Conservation is a big part of my life, so it naturally leaks into my other social media presences. Some of my peers have accounts dedicated to their private practices and I salute that initiative; I do not myself, since my professional career is still quite fluid. I do not have an profile.

What makes a bad online portfolio? Are there any specific things to avoid like too much information, too many images, poor organization, difficult navigation, etc.? Do potential supervisors prefer brief summaries or lengthy text entries with detail?

Susan Heald: As a reviewer, I just need to be able to find the information easily—so difficult navigation and poor organization would drive me nuts. I like the idea of having summaries with overall images up front (as Gwen showed in one example during the Webinar), with the longer, complete report format and additional detail images available for review if desired.

Gwen Manthey: I think the biggest concern is poor organization. You can put nearly an unlimited amount of information on your personal website, constrained only by the file size imposed on the specific plan you select from your provider. You should think about your intended audience, who may not have the same technological savvy you do. Clear tabs, a legible font, and smart navigation through text and images are key. I don’t even like scrolling down through long entries myself, so those preferences influenced the design of my website.

On average, how long would a potential supervisor spend looking at an online portfolio before an interview?

Susan Heald: That’s a really hard question to answer because it depends on how many applicants are in the pool, how many interviews are conducted, and how much time the reviewer might have in addition to other work responsibilities. I try to spend a minimum of 30 minutes looking at a portfolio submission containing 3-4 examples of work, and that is after I have reviewed that candidate’s letter of introduction, CV, writing samples, and the 3 letters of recommendation. I always take notes as I do this. Sometimes as a panel of 3-5 reviewers, we might divide the portfolio into sections with each reviewer taking a particular section most relevant to their area of expertise, reading that section thoroughly, and then briefing the other panelists on the review committee. Good organization of the text, images, and supporting materials within the portfolio is crucial—it must be easy to review and consume.

One of my concerns as I start making my own website is having a design that is both easy to use and distinguishable from my peers who may be using similar templates. How customizable is the platform that you’ve used, and how easy did you find it to make those changes?

Gwen Manthey: Squarespace is a very, VERY smart website builder. Even if you select one of their templates, the customization is virtually unlimited. The first website I ever had a hand in building was my own, so it was a trial by fire, since I personally found the breadth of customization and its design tools were not intuitive to me. It was quickly overwhelming until I forced myself to be patient and practice. It might have been more difficult than Wix or Weebly, both of which I had also considered at the time, but a graphic design friend strongly suggested it, as it was more customizable at the time. I like using gray backgrounds, big images, and limited text when developing PowerPoint presentations, so my website is an extension of that design preference. While it may look similar to the websites of my colleagues, my experiences are pretty singular and that is what tends to stick out.

What is the best iPad or MacBook program that can be used to set up a digital portfolio? 

Gwen Manthey:  As always, “best” is subjective. Best will depend on how you want to prepare and present your digital portfolio, so spend some time thinking that. I believe I left out one key format in presenting a digital portfolio in my presentation: compiling your documents into a single PDF package. Doing that can be accomplished through a variety of software applications. Your digital portfolio does not need to live scattered across multiple apps in a tablet, as mine did (and still does). I use an iPad because I am familiar with it, and that ease works to my benefit during its presentation. I prefer to use some of the heavier-hitting and integrated applications (such as Dropbox, Adobe-based programs, iBooks, and the iPhotos apps) since I trust they will be continually updated as time progresses. As such, I can only confidently speak about Mac-based software and iPads, and lack experiences with other platforms and operating systems.

Thank you to Susan and Gwen! ECPN is grateful to the speakers for their participation in the webinar and for sharing their expertise on this topic. Thank you also to my fellow ECPN officers, and the AIC board and staff who made this program possible. If you have additional comments or questions on this subject, please email

Here are links to a few key AIC resources that our speakers mentioned during their presentations:

And here are other ECPN resources on the topic of portfolios in the conservation field: