Job Posting: Assistant/Associate Conservator – Asian Art collection, Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, NY)


Assistant/Associate Conservator

The Objects Conservation Department at The Metropolitan Museum of Art upholds the highest professional standards in the conservation of the Museum’s three-dimensional works of art. The Assistant or Associate Conservator will be part of a team responsible for conservation of the Asian Art collection consisting of over 35,000 objects in a wide range of materials, spanning 5,000 years. The Assistant or Associate Conservator’s principal responsibility will be for the metalwork, comprising more than 4,000 objects, mainly of gold, silver, and copper alloys, some from archaeological contexts, and exhibiting a variety of methods of manufacture and decoration. The Assistant or Associate Conservator will collaborate with others on the conservation of objects of mixed media including metals.

This is a full-time permanent position.

Primary Responsibilities and Duties:

  • Undertake conservation of metal objects in the Asian Art collection, including examination, treatment, and oversight of environmental conditions in storerooms and galleries.
  • Examine objects for acquisition, incoming or outgoing loans and gifts.
  • Examine objects concerning material identification and technology, including use of analytical instrumentation such as x-radiography and microscopy.
  • Prepare samples for analysis by the Department of Scientific Research, and communicate with scientists regarding goals and results.
  • Liaise with conservators, curators, technicians, riggers, Buildings staff, Exhibitions staff, and Registrar.
  • Prepare visual and written documentation of treatments and research, and file according to department protocols.
  • Travel domestically and internationally as needed to examine, treat, and courier artworks in connection with loans.
  • Supervise contract conservators, fellows, and students.
  • Assist senior staff in time-sensitive projects as assigned by Conservator in Charge.
  • Participate in departmental fundraising activities.
  • Broaden knowledge of the conservation field by taking advantage of the department’s expertise and resources, and the Museum’s opportunities for professional development.
  • Disseminate activities and findings in a range of platforms including public and professional lectures, and print and digital publications.
  • Other related duties

Requirements and Qualifications:

Experience and Skills:

  • Minimum of five years of professional experience working in a museum required.
  • Experience in the examination and treatment of a wide range of objects required.
  • Expertise in the examination and treatment of metals, including archaeological metals, preferred.
  • Excellent written, verbal, and interpersonal skills required.
  • Skill using state-of-the-art conservation documentation tools, including digital photogaphy, multi-spectral imaging, and Reflectance Transformation Imaging preferred.
  • Ability to lift up to 50 pounds and work on a ladder or rig required.

Knowledge and Education:

  • Master’s degree from an internationally recognized graduate conservation program required.
  • FDNY C-14 Laboratory Certificate of Fitness or willingness and ability to attain certification within six months of hire required.

Please send cover letter, resume, and salary history to with “Assistant/Associate Conservator” in the subject line.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art provides equal opportunity to all employees and applicants for employment without regard to race, color, religion, creed, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, ancestry, age, mental or physical disability, pregnancy, alienage or citizenship status, marital status or domestic partner status, genetic information, genetic predisposition or carrier status, gender identity, HIV status, military status and any other category protected by law in all employment decisions, including but not limited to recruitment, hiring, compensation, training and apprenticeship, promotion, upgrading, demotion, downgrading, transfer, lay-off and termination, and all other terms and conditions of employment.  AmeriCorps, Peace Corps, and national service alumni encouraged to apply.

43rd Annual Meeting – Book & Paper Session, May 15, "To Do or Not To Do: Two Examples of Decision Making of Digital In-filling for Asian Works of Art" by Hsin-Chen Tsai

Japanese and Chinese artworks, such as hanging scrolls, hand scrolls, folding screens and panels, have two components: the primary artwork and the mount. This talk focused on the treatment of the mounts for a folding screen entitled The Deities of the Tanni-sho by Munakata Shiko, and a hanging scroll entitled Standing Courtesan, by Keisai Eisen.
The current condition and the information carried by the mounting are balanced in making treatment decisions. When both the condition and the retained information are poor; more extensive treatment is carried out. This was the case for the folding screen. The original mounting paper was decorated using a Japanese fold-dying technique that created a repeating pattern that would be difficult to reproduce by hand. The author decided to make digital infills for this for three reasons: there was enough remaining original material for reference, the fills would not change the context and character, and it would be less time-consuming.

Folding screen before treatment.
Folding screen before treatment.

Here is a step-by-step of the process:
1. She took a digital image of an intact section of the mount.
2. She opened the image in PhotoShop and made adjustments to distortion, brightness, contrast, and color balance.
3. She printed onto a lined sheet of sekishu paper with an Epsum stylus Pro 4900 printer.
4. She matched the pattern with the losses and traced them over a light box.
5. After filling, there was some minor toning required.
For the scroll, Japanese paste paper had been used as the mount. It was an uda (clay-containing) paper with alum-gelatin sizing. It was hand-stamped in an irregular pattern and an uneven tone. The damage was typical of this kind of object: the mechanical action of rolling and unrolling led to horizontal damage and losses. Since the author was not able to guess exactly what the lost areas had looked like, she decided to infill using hand-toned paper without a decorative pattern.

Stories of Success: A Collaborative Survey Shines Fresh Light on Korean Paintings

This post is part of the “From the Bench series celebrating the work of conservators. Part scientist, part detective, part artisan, part caretaker, a conservator works to preserve the past for the future. This series features the voices of conservators who are working on IMLS-supported projects in museums across the United States. For more information about IMLS funding for museums see

By Katherine Holbrow, Head of Conservation, Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, CA

Shared expertise plays an essential role in good collections care. In Spring 2012, valuable support from IMLS enabled the Asian Art Museum to bring together an interdisciplinary team of experts to carry out a conservation survey of rare Korean paintings.

Korean paintings conservator Chi-sun Park and her assistant, Eun-Hye Cho, of Jung-Jae Conservation Center in Seoul, Korea, collaborated with Asian Art Museum conservators, curators, and translators to examine hanging scrolls, albums, and screens dating from the 14th to 19thcenturies. The team examined each painting, then identified conservation and curatorial priorities, evaluated scroll and album mounts, and discussed treatment alternatives.

Left to right: Asian Art Museum director Jay Xu, visiting conservator Chi-Sun Park, associate curator Hyonjeong Kim Han, and paintings conservator Shiho Sasaki discuss a Joseon dynasty painting.
Did you know that due to a tradition of under-floor heating, Korean folding screens typically have feet? Above, Chi-sun Park examines a Korean painting mounted as a folding screen. The mount uses a mixture of Korean and Japanese elements.

The project quickly grew beyond an assessment of treatment needs, sparking stimulating discussions of the broader ethical and aesthetic questions that surround the remounting of Korean paintings, including the following:

  • What characteristics do Korean mounts share with Chinese or Japanese mounts?
  • What elements are unique to Korea?
  • How can the mounts help tell the history of our paintings?

 Good conservation decisions require a cultural sensitivity to fine detail and a clear grasp of such abstract questions, even if there is more than one right answer!

This lively debate, along with explanations of common types of scroll damage, strategies to extend the life of a painting mount, and repair options, was shared with senior docents and museum visitors in publications, tours, and lectures. Read more about the Korean paintings project on the Asian Art Museum website.