Project Specialist (Los Angeles, CA, USA) – PASSED DEADLINE


The Getty Conservation Institute (GCI), located in Los Angeles, California, and one of the operating programs of the J. Paul Getty Trust, works internationally to advance conservation practice in the visual arts—broadly interpreted to include objects, collections, architecture, and sites. The Institute serves the conservation community through scientific research, education and training, field projects, and the dissemination of information. In all its endeavors, the GCI creates and delivers knowledge that contributes to the conservation of the world’s cultural heritage.

The Building and Sites Department of the Getty Conservation Institute is seeking a Project Specialist to work on the Conserving Modern Architecture Initiative (CMAI). Reporting to the Senior Project Specialist who manages the CMAI, the Project Specialist will manage the CMAI’s new education and training initiatives. This is a three-year, limited-term position, based in Los Angeles.

The CMAI’s education and training initiatives are key to its goal of improving the management, conservation, and recognition of the value of twentieth-century heritage. Through these initiatives, the CMAI will develop training materials and techniques for physical conservation, and will increase the application of appropriate values-based conservation methodologies, leading to an expanded and strengthened community of practice. By developing and offering a variety of courses and training opportunities (of short and long duration) and offering other capacity building experiences, CMAI will reach target audiences at many different levels and in different regions of the world. These education and training opportunities will be offered starting in the winter and spring of 2018 and thereafter, for many years to come.

The Project Specialist will project manage the development of modern conservation education and training courses, develop related didactic materials, and manage the implementation of these courses. He/She will be responsible for: developing course budgets and schedules, selecting trainers and lecturers, preparing course material, advertising courses, and selecting participants. He/She will manage the day to day needs of the course to meet its educational goals; this will include working closely with participants, lecturers, and others involved in the delivery of the course. He/She will work with a broad range of conservation professionals, as well as other heritage professionals, in an international environment. The Project Specialist will develop long and short courses, which are repeatable so they can be offered many times; he/she will be in charge of adapting and modifying courses, as necessary, to keep their content relevant and to ensure they address the needs of audiences in different regions of the world. It is the objective of CMAI to create education and training courses that others can use, so the Project Specialist will also be tasked with the role of “training the trainers” to ensure that there are qualified people who can sustain and perpetuate the courses that CMAI develops.

Must have a Bachelor’s degree in architecture, archaeology, architectural conservation, or a related discipline. Post-graduate degree in cultural heritage conservation or the equivalent practical experience is also required. Must have a minimum of 3–7 years of practical work experience in the area of built heritage conservation and experience in teaching and/or designing educational and training courses.

The Project Specialist must be adaptable, analytical, a positive problem-solver, and a creative thinker. The position requires excellent oral and written communication skills and superior organizational and time management skills. Proficiency in English is required and proficiency in a language other than English is an advantage. The position involves international travel. This is a three-year, limited-term position.

To apply, please visit:,-conserving-modernarchitecture-initiative/job. Please prepare a cover letter and curriculum vitae in a single PDF file. Note: When prompted by the online application system to select or submit your “resume”, please upload your cover letter and curriculum vitae as a single PDF file.

Candidates who successfully complete the online application process will receive an automated message from “”. If you have specific questions about the Project Specialist position, please email The deadline for applications is February 28, 2018.

Studentship in Preservation of Geological Collections, UCL/Oxford/Cardiff (UK)

A four-year SEAHA studentship investigating the preservation of geological collections in museums is currently open for applications.

Mineral specimens, despite their apparent stability, are prone to deterioration in museum environments. Currently available methodologies are not suitable for routine collection monitoring, as results are not necessarily replicable, and, in the absence of guidance on suitable storage conditions, triggers for, and the suitability of, conservation actions are difficult to determine. We need a more robust approach to the delivery of preventative conservation of geological collections.

This studentship, based at the University of Oxford and in partnership with Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales and BSRIA Ltd, addresses these issues. The student will define what kind of material change in minerals constitutes damage; develop a protocol for routine monitoring of museum geological collections for potential damage; establish optimum environmental and minimum air quality standards for different types of minerals; and test rigorously the suitability of conservation treatments that are presently available.


  • Academic supervisor: Professor Heather Viles, University of Oxford
  • Heritage supervisors: Dr Christian Baars and Dr Jana Horak, Amgueddfa Cymru, National Museum Wales
  • Industrial supervisor: Ian Wallis, BSRIA Ltd

The first year of this four-year studentship constitutes an MRes degree at University College London. Following successful completion of the MRes, students will be registered for doctoral research at the University of Oxford for years 2-4 of the SEAHA scholarship. The SEAHA studentship will cover home fees plus an enhanced stipend of up to GBP18,172 per year (to be confirmed at point of offer) for eligible applicants (, and a substantial budget for research, travel, and cohort activities.

Full information about the project can be found at:

Application deadline: midday (GMT) on Friday, January 12, 2018.


Paper Conservator (Newport News, VA, USA)

The Mariners’ Museum is looking for a conservator who will undertake the direct treatment and preventive conservation care of works on paper within the collection of The Mariners’ Museum and Park with a primary focus on prints, drawings, watercolors, and documents. This individual will work closely with conservation staff and other museum personnel to conserve these objects and prepare them for exhibition, long-term storage, loan, and photography, etc.

  • Job tracking ID: 512466-600087
  • Job level: Mid-career (2+ years)
  • Level of education: Master’s Degree
  • Job type: Full-time/regular
  • Date updated: December 15, 2017
  • Years of experience: 5 – 7 Years
  • Starting date: March 1, 2018


  • Conduct examination, documentation, and treatment of paper-based objects within The Mariners’ Museum and Park’s collection following established conservation procedures, methodologies, and ethics set out by The American Institute for the Conservation of Artistic and Historic Works.
  • Maintain detailed before-, during-, and after-treatment records including both written and photographic documentation.
  • When necessary, based on the conservation needs of an object, develop new conservation techniques and procedures in consultation with the Director of Conservation and other conservation personnel.
  • Assess the condition of new acquisitions and prepare written condition reports, including photographic documentation. If necessary, conduct basic cleaning and stabilization of new acquisitions and prepare the associated treatment records.
  • Construct storage support systems for objects with special needs directly; otherwise provide training and support to collection care personnel based on current storage techniques and methods.
  • Consult/work directly with the Director of Conservation, Exhibit Design, Collections management and Curatorial, and Library and Archives personnel in the preparation of mounts, frames, and the installation of works on paper within the museum’s galleries; this includes providing the requirements for lighting and environmental conditions.
  • Support/facilitate preventative conservation methodology, initiate requests, implement solutions under established conservation guidelines, and make recommendations for resolving difficult or unusual problems.
  • Conduct conservation assessment and treatment of objects loaned to the Museum when required and when authorized by the owner and produce the associated written and photographic documentation.
  • Conduct conservation assessments and prepare cost estimates for the treatment of potential outgoing loans
  • Provide recommendations in consultation with the Director of Conservation on the ability for objects to travel outside the museum based on their condition; including outlining the requirements for lighting and environmental conditions.
  • Assist in review of loan requests and make recommendations toward approval or decline of loans when needed.
  • Construct packing mounts and systems for fragile/special needs objects directly; otherwise provide recommendations/support to collection care personnel.
  • Assist in the maintenance/operation of laboratory equipment and facility, and participate in the ordering of supplies and additional equipment as required.
  • Participate in professional organizations, workshops, conferences, online courses and other activities in order to enhance personal knowledge and expertise and stay up-to-date with current practices and advances in technology and methodology.
  • Promote the importance of conservation within the museum and in an outreach capacity whenever possible.
  • Perform other duties as assigned.


 Knowledge, skills, abilities:

  • Working knowledge of acceptable practices for conservation and maintenance for works on paper with previous experience treating prints, drawings, watercolors, and documents required.
  • Working knowledge and experience in current conservation matting and framing techniques for most types of paper artifacts.
  • Working knowledge of digital photography.
  • Familiarity with analytical equipment and methods
  • Working knowledge of Microsoft Office and Adobe Photoshop.
  • Organizational skills necessary for planning/organizing of professional seminars, lectures, workshops, and publications.
  • Development of educational materials/activities for public outreach.
  • Attention to detail and accuracy.
  • Familiarity with accepted practices for achieving and insuring safety in the laboratory.
  • Consistent capacity for respectful and professional interpersonal relations.

Education, licensure, certifications:

  • Bachelor’s Degree with a major in an art, history, or a science-related field of study.
  • A Master’s degree (or equivalent) in paper conservation from a recognized training program.
  • Professional Associate member status of The American Institute for the Conservation of Artistic and Historic Works preferred.

Conditions of Employment: A minimum of four years of post-graduate conservation experience is required.

The Mariners’ Museum offers a comprehensive benefits package for regular full-time staff, and their eligible dependents which includes medical and dental insurance (cost-sharing involved) as well as term life insurance, long-term disability insurance, flexible spending accounts, and a 403(b) pension plan. In addition, paid vacation, sick leave, and holiday pay is provided to all regular full-time staff.

To apply, visit:

Assistant Objects Conservator, The Menil Collection (Houston, TX, USA)


Menil Collection

Department: Conservation
Reports to: Chief Conservator

General Responsibilities: The Assistant Objects Conservator undertakes research, condition assessments, environmental monitoring, and treatments related to the care and preservation of three-dimensional objects in the care of the Menil Collection. All work must be performed in accordance with the American Institute for Conservation’s Code of Ethics and Guidelines for Practice.

Specific Duties:

  • Maintain artworks on view (both indoors and outdoors) or in storage by regularly monitoring the objects and their environments, and by performing regular surface cleaning as appropriate for each object.
  • Respond to incidents involving damage or potential damage to artwork and, analyzing the specifics of each instance, communicate with departments across the museum to mitigate future risk.
  • Prepare artworks for exhibition, loan, or permanent gallery rotation.
  • Serve as conservation department liaison for selected Menil Collection temporary exhibitions.
  • Determine exhibition, handling, storage, and packing requirements for objects in the collection that will be exhibited or loaned.
  • Coordinate with Art Services and Exhibition Design to develop safe solutions for exhibition casework and decking.
  • Assess and report on the condition of specific artworks requested for loan prior to departure and upon return from travel outside the Menil Collection.
  • Report on the condition of artworks borrowed by the Menil Collection for temporary exhibitions.
  • Coordinate mount making, schedule artwork movements, and request photography of artwork as needed for exhibition, treatment or loan.
  • Assist with installations and de-installations as needed/where appropriate.
  • Perform occasional domestic and international courier duties.
  • Select non-exhibition-driven treatment projects in consultation with the chief conservator and associate objects conservator, and gather information necessary for the creation of project budgets based on project needs.
  • Assess the condition of artworks presented for purchase by or gift to the Menil Collection.
  • Assess the condition of artworks acquired by the Menil Collection, ensuring all necessary information is gathered and submitted to the object’s permanent records.
  • Conduct technical studies on the materials and techniques of artists represented in the Menil Collection, coordinating analysis and research with Research Scientist and Curators.
  • Engage with artists, their studio assistants, or estates to document working practices, materials, and installation parameters, either in written form or on video for the Artists Documentation Program (ADP).
  • Assist Conservation Imaging Specialist in the imaging of large or complex artworks.
  • Attend professional meetings and give lectures or publish papers.
  • Assist in the general maintenance and upkeep of the conservation studio.
  • Investigate and advise on the purchase of equipment.

Salary and benefits are competitive and commensurate with experience and start date is flexible. Please send a curriculum vitae, contact information for three professional references, and a letter of intent to: Human Resources, The Menil Collection, 1511 Branard Street, Houston, Texas 77006 or fax it to 713-525-9476. Application materials may also be emailed to

Assistant Conservation Scientist (Orange, CT, USA)


Yale University’s Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage (IPCH) is seeking a scientist or a conservator with a strong scientific background to fill the position of Assistant Conservation Scientist, who will collaborate with colleagues at the Yale Center for British Art and the Beinecke Rare Books & Manuscripts Library to design and carry out projects that involve the scientific study of objects or object-related issues in those collections. This 2-year term position is based at Yale’s West Campus in Orange CT, but activities at collections, conservation laboratories and other research facilities require travel to Central Campus in downtown New Haven and nearby Science Park.

The Assistant Conservation Scientist will report to the Director of Scientific Research of the Technical Studies Laboratory at IPCH. The research laboratories of the IPCH perform a diverse range of laboratory procedures and techniques aimed at the study of objects in Yale’s cultural heritage and natural history collections as well as the study of changes that materials in these objects undergo as part of aging and degradation processes. The IPCH also houses the Conservation Laboratory and the Digitization Laboratory, which provide infrastructure and equipment to Yale’s collections and researchers pursuing the examination, documentation and conservation treatment of object.

 This position provides scientific support for Yale’s efforts to preserve, study and display its cultural heritage and natural history collections, through the technical examination of objects, research into material stability and deterioration, or development of new methods for conservation treatment and condition assessment.

Required Education and Experience:  Master’s Degree in Chemistry or related field, including conservation or conservation science, and two years of experience involving the scientific study of works of art or an equivalent combination of education and experience.


  • Demonstrated practice with some instrumental materials characterization techniques (for example, FTIR, Raman, XRF, SEM/EDX, GC/MS, etc) applied to the study of cultural heritage objects.
  • Demonstrated abilities involving scientific study of works of art. Demonstrated genuine interest in working with museum and library collections.
  • Well-developed oral and written communication, data analysis, organizational skills. Ability to communicate scientific concepts to a non-scientific audience.
  • Proven ability to work collaboratively and professionally with scientists, conservators, curators, and collection care/management staff.

Preferred Education, Experience and Skills: Familiarity with multi-spectral imaging of cultural heritage objects. Record of publications in relation conservation science or conservation. PhD in physical or bio-physical sciences (including materials science, polymer science, physics, biophysics and biochemistry). Expertise in the analysis of organic materials using of GC-MS.

Application: Assistant Conservation Scientist – position number: 47223BR.

For more information and immediate consideration, please apply online at  Please be sure to reference this website when applying for this position.

Yale University offers exciting opportunities for achievement and growth in New Haven, Connecticut. Conveniently located between Boston and New York, New Haven is the creative capital of Connecticut with cultural resources that include three major museums, a critically-acclaimed repertory theater, state-of-the-art concert hall, and world-renowned schools of Architecture, Art, Drama, and Music.

We invite you to discover the excitement, diversity, rewards and excellence of a career at Yale University. One of the country’s great workplaces, Yale University offers exciting opportunities for meaningful accomplishment and true growth. Our benefits package is among the best anywhere, with a wide variety of insurance choices, liberal paid time off, fantastic family and educational benefits, a variety of retirement benefits, extensive recreational facilities, and much more.

Yale University considers applicants for employment without regard to, and does not discriminate on the basis of an individual’s sex, race, color, religion, age, disability, status as a veteran, or national or ethnic origin; nor does Yale discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.

Assistant University Archivist (Evanston, IL, USA)


  • Work Group: University Archives
  • Reports to: University Archivist

Summary: The Assistant University Archivist actively engages students, faculty, and alumni in the collection, use, and preservation of university records and the papers of faculty, administrators, staff, students and alumni of Northwestern University. As a key partner in the teaching and learning mission of the university, he or she will provide leadership for reference, instruction, outreach, web presence, and other research and instructional service functions of the University Archives. This position supervises several student workers and assists in the overall management of the University Archives. Additionally, the Assistant University Archivist will share responsibilities for collection development and donor relations, under the direction of the University Archivist, and provide expertise on materials that document the university’s history. As a member of the Distinctive Collections workgroup, the Assistant University Archivist will work across all units of Distinctive Collections on collaborative workflows and projects that support the mission of the workgroup in particular and of the Northwestern University Libraries overall.

Key responsabilities:

  • Provides reference and information services for University Archives to university administrative offices, alumni, students, and faculty in all academic disciplines, including answering questions in the reading room and via telephone/email, and providing reference consultations on demand
  • Provides classroom instruction on the use of archival sources to students, faculty, and others, including working with faculty to design and oversee course projects, participating in the annual Research Resources Forum for grad students, and offering workshops
  • Assists the University Archivist in the acquisitions of archival collections, maintaining and cultivating relationships with alumni and other donors, and promoting the collections and services of University Archives through outreach and public programming
  • Supervises one full-time staff member with primary functions in accessioning and processing
  • Assists the University Archivist in managing the University Archives, including hiring, training, supervising, and evaluating student workers (4-6 per quarter); prepares reports as needed; acts in the place of the University Archivist as needed; orders archival supplies; manages the collection and stacks; coordinates special projects
  • Directs policies and workflows for making born-digital archival collection materials accessible to researchers, both in the reading room and remotely
  • Works with the Archival Processing team to manage workflows and ensure that new and legacy finding aids are accessible via various local and consortial discovery systems
  • Promotes Archives and the Libraries through campus outreach, exhibitions, the Archvies website, and social media
  • Participates in NUL committees and activities, and collaborates on projects with units in other work groups
  • Engages in appropriate professional development, continuing education, professional service, and research activities
  • Contributes experience and skills to the wider community through outreach, volunteer work, collaborative projects with peer organizations and Evanston cultural institutions, campus tours for visitors and NU groups, etc.

Minimum qualifications:

  • Master’s degree in librarianship or related field, or equivalent combination of education and relevant experience
  • 3 to 5 years experience in public services and/or in processing and managing archival collections in a college or university
  • Supervisory experience
  • Aptitude for teaching, training, and public speaking
  • Valid driver’s licence with verifiable clean driving record
  • Ability to lift archival boxes weighing up to 50 lbs. and push carts weighing up to 200 lbs.

Minimum Competencies:

  • Good Communicator – demonstrates excellent interpersonal communication skills
  • Customer focused – strives for high customer satisfaction with a proven record of successful faculty engagement
  • Collegial – desire to work in a collaborative team-based environment
  • Adaptable – ability to work effectively in a changing environment
  • Takes the Initiative – takes ownership of work, completes what is needed without being asked, follows through
  • Efficient – plans ahead, manages time well, is resource conscious, finds better ways to achieve personal and departmental goals

Preferred qualifications:

  • Record of professional service and research activity
  • Experience working with donors, friends groups, or alumni associations

Environment: The Northwestern University Archives, established in 1935, houses records, publications, photographs, and other materials pertaining to every aspect of Northwestern’s history, including the papers of faculty, biographical information on Northwestern alumni, a complete run of Daily Northwestern issues, a complete set of catalogs and bulletins from each of the schools and 250,000 photographs. The University Archives is an integral part of the Distinctive Collections workgroup, which also includes the Art Library, the Transportation Library, the Herskovits Library of African Studies, the Music Library, the Charles Deering McCormick Library of Special Collections, and the Archival Processing team.

Northwestern University is a highly selective private university with campuses in Evanston and Chicago, Illinois and in Doha, Qatar. One of the leading private research libraries in the United States, Northwestern University Library serves the educational and information needs of the NU community as well as scholars around the world. Its collection contains more than 7 million volumes, a full array of digital resources, and collections of distinction in Africana, transportation, and 20th-century and contemporary music. Northwestern is a member of the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) and the Big Ten Academic Alliance (BTAA). See more information about University Libraries at:

Northwestern University is an Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action Employer of all protected classes, including veterans and individuals with disabilities. Women, racial and ethnic minorities, individuals with disabilities, and veterans are encouraged to apply. Hiring is contingent upon eligibility to work in the United States.

TO APPLY: Applications received by January 15, 2018 will receive first consideration. Please click here to fill out an application.


Fellowship in the Conservation of Contemporary Art, Paintings Focus (San Francisco, CA, USA)


The Conservation Department at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is pleased to offer a two-year advanced Fellowship in the conservation of contemporary art, beginning fall 2018. In keeping with the nature of contemporary art, the Fellowship is designed to initiate collaboration between conservation disciplines, including paper, paintings, objects, photographs, and electronic media. For the 2018-2020 cycle, a specialization in paintings conservation is preferred.

In addition to performing technical examination and treatment on works in the museum’s collection, the Fellowship will give focus to the non-traditional methods that are employed in creating, and caring for, contemporary works of art. The conservation of contemporary art often requires highly collaborative working methods and engagement with living artists is a core aspect of SFMOMA’s practice. The Fellowship will also include activities such as exhibition planning, installation, and collection research. Since compiling information about artists’ materials, processes, and intentions may be among the most important contributions conservators of contemporary art can make toward future care of collections, effective methods for documenting these factors will be explored. The Fellow will undertake a research project related to contemporary art and will be encouraged to present a paper or publish the findings.

The applicant should have a graduate degree from a recognized conservation training program and enough experience to be able to work with a degree of independence in the studio. The ability to collaborate creatively with other conservators and museum staff members is essential.

Stipend: $47,500 plus benefits with $2000 annually for research and travel to conferences. Candidates should complete the online application and submit a curriculum vitae and a statement (no more than one page) as to the candidate’s interest in the Fellowship through the SFMOMA website,

Applicants who are selected for an interview will be asked to submit two letters of recommendation and a brief portfolio. Digital portfolios are encouraged. Please direct any questions to Emily Hamilton, All applications must be received by January 15, 2018.

Assistant and Associate Conservator Positions for Objects and Sculpture (California, USA)

SF Art Conservation seeks to recruit two full time objects/sculptures conservators. The positions are full time, and comes with health benefits and a retirement package. Focused on objects, sculpture and paintings conservation, the company has studios located in San Francisco and Oakland and serves a range of clients that include museums, City institutions and major private collections.

Responsibilities will include conservation assessment, treatment, and documentation of objects and sculpture, and some supervision of technicians and conservation assistants. The conservators will undertake individual treatments as well as be involved in team projects, and work with a broad range of materials from different periods, both in the studio and onsite. We have a particular focus on contemporary and modern objects, sculpture and public art.

The company prides itself on providing a creative, positive and supportive environment. Within a collaborative setting, we encourage employees to develop and expand their skills, and produce their best work.

A Master’s degree in Conservation and a minimum of five years for associate and two years for assistant of recent experience with objects and sculpture is required.

Apply to:
Rowan Geiger
Director of SF Art Conservation

Please include a letter of intent, resume, and contact information for three professional references.

Only individuals eligible to work in the United States will be considered.

ECPN Interviews: Electronic Media Conservation with Christine Frohnert

To promote awareness and a clearer understanding of different pathways into specializations that require particular training, The Emerging Conservation Professionals Network (ECPN) is conducting a series of interviews with conservation professionals in these specialties. We kicked off the series with Chinese and Japanese Painting conservation, and now we are focusing on Electronic Media Conservation (EMG). These conservators work with time-based media, which is characterized by artwork with durational elements, such as slide, film, and video, analog or born-digital materials, performance, light or kinetic art, sound or software-based art. We’ve asked our interviewees to share some thoughts about their career paths, which we hope will inspire new conservation professionals and provide valuable insight into these areas of our professional field.

In the first interviews for this series, we spoke with emerging conservators starting in the early stages of their careers working in time-based media, which included Alexandra Nichols, Nicholas Kaplan, Brian Castriota and Yasmin Desssem. In this interview, we hear from Christine Frohnert, a conservator who graduated in 2003 from the University of Arts in Berne, Switzerland, where she majored in the Conservation of Modern Materials and Media. Prior to establishing a private practice for Time-based Media (TBM) with colleague Reinhard Bek, Christine served as chief conservator at the Museum Ludwig in Cologne, Germany for twelve years and as chair of the AIC Electronic Media Group from 2008-2012. In 2012, she was named the inaugural Judith Praska Distinguished Visiting Professor in Conservation and Technical Studies at the Conservation Center at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University (CC/IFA/NYU), where she now serves as the Time-based Media Art Conservation Curriculum Development Program Coordinator.


Christine Frohnert and Reinhard Bek [Photo: Reinhard Bek]
Christine Frohnert and Reinhard Bek [Photo: Reinhard Bek]
ECPN: Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your current position.

Christine Frohnert (CF): I am a conservator of contemporary art with a specific focus on technology-based art. Reinhard Bek and I founded Bek & Frohnert LLC in NYC in 2012- a conservation studio in private practice specializing in the conservation of time-based media (TBM). We are both German, have been trained in Europe, worked in leading positions in museums, and have been involved in international research projects.

Bek and I focus on the conservation of artworks with a durational element in our practice—such as sound, moving image, performance, light, or movement, that unfolds to the viewer over time via slide, film, video, software, or the internet. Since the studio’s inauguration, we have responded to individual needs for both TBM conservation treatments and consulting requests. However, over the last several years, we have experienced a rising demand to serve as consultants for different U.S. institutions without time-based media conservators on staff, as well as for collectors and artists. As many TBM art collecting institutions are facing rapidly increasing needs to adequately acquire, preserve, exhibit and store TBM works, we are responding to this development and our work is more geared towards long-term collection care and the development of preservation plans, as well as education.

ECPN: How were you first introduced to conservation, what contributed to your decision to specialize in time-based media, and why has been your training pathway?

CF: As with most of my colleagues, I started conservation being exposed to more traditional media such as paintings and sculpture. About 20 years ago, I realized that technology-based artworks can be seriously harmed or lost without a new conservation specialty being established. I became fascinated with TBM, and I learned about the newly established program ‘Conservation of Modern Materials and Media’ at the University of Arts, Berne, Switzerland. I graduated from there in 2003.

ECPN: Are there any particular skills that you feel are important or unique to your discipline?

Christine Frohnert [Photo: Marlies Peller]
Christine Frohnert [Photo: Marlies Peller]
CF: A complex range of skill sets are needed, which should be solidly grounded in the conceptual framework of contemporary art conservation as a whole. It requires knowledge in electrics/electronics and programming, and an in-depth understanding of each media category, technology and its preservation, documentation and digital preservation needs. As our profession is highly collaborative by nature, soft skills are equally important to collaborate with all the stakeholders in the institutions involved, as well as with affiliated external professionals such as engineers, computer scientists, and technicians. This is important when defining, communicating, and verifying goals with vendors.

As many museums recently formed or are currently forming ‘Media Teams’ in their respective institutions to tackle their individual TBM collections needs, we have witnessed a rapidly increasing need for skilled labor, dedicated TBM lab space, equipment, and the trustworthy storage and management of huge amounts of born-digital or digitized artworks.

ECPN: What are some of your current projects, research, or interests?

CF: Currently our recent projects include consultation with several institutions to analyze their TBM collections and develop custom-designed conservation strategies according to their individual collections needs and skill sets of staff. These consultations may include surveys, assistance with media acquisitions, exhibitions and artwork documentation, storage, and migration. Bringing in external expertise often provides the bridge that many museums and their TBM stakeholders do not find in-house or do not have the capacity to coordinate. This work helps to identify and structure these needs more clearly and often provides the basis for institutional development and the implementation of larger collection care projects.

Recent and current treatment-based activities range from analyzing the ‘mechanical’ programming of a light-based work, the conservation of a seven channel-video wall from 1998 consisting of 207 Cathode Ray Tube monitors, digitization of analog video, and  the reverse engineering of custom-designed large format slide projectors, to name a few.

Cathode Ray Tube monitor [Photo: Marlies Peller
Cathode Ray Tube monitor [Photo: Marlies Peller]
ECPN: In your opinion, what is an important need in your specialization?

CF: the most pressing need is education. Technology-based art is considered to be very sensitive to damage, loss, misinterpretation, and incorrect installation, due to its very specific and sensitive relationship to time, space, and concept. Damage or loss of a TBM work cannot be seen by simply examining the physical material and may not be immediately apparent unless the individual has received specialized training.

TBM conservation has been identified as a priority by many museums, collectors, and funding agencies. However, the educational opportunities are still limited, and there is currently no U.S. graduate program offering a degree in this specialty (but this will change soon!). As a result, a huge amount of our most recent cultural heritage is at risk, in an unknown condition, and/or not sufficiently integrated into museums’ missions of collecting, exhibition, conservation, research, and education.

However, thanks to the generous funding provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Conservation Center at the Institute of Fine Arts, NYU, started the TBM art conservation curriculum planning project in 2016.The new TBM specialization will be integrated within its current curriculum starting in fall 2018. This will be the first conservation program offering this specialty in the U.S. and the graduates will receive a dual degree: an MS in the Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works and an MA in the History of Art and Archaeology.

ECPN: Have you been involved in any advocacy, outreach, teaching or professional service roles in your specialization?

CF: During my time as EMG (Electronic Media Group) board Chair from 2008-2012, we received numerous request from the membership to offer continuing education opportunities, and in response EMG launched the conference series entitled TechFocus in 2010. The series is designed to provide hands-on guidance and systematic education on different media categories (TechFocus I: Caring for Video Art, Guggenheim Museum, NY, in 2010; TechFocus II: Caring for Film and Slide Art, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC, 2012; TechFocus III: Caring for Software-based Art, Guggenheim Museum, NY, in 2015). In addition, the first periodical worldwide that focuses on TBM art conservation was launched by the EMG in 2012, The Electronic Media Review.

At the (CC/IFA/NYU) I have offered instruction in TBM conservation art in different capacities, including the course Art With A Plug: The Conservation of Artwork Containing Motion, Sound, Light, Moving Images and Interactivity (Fall 2012 and Spring 2015).

Several professional organizations and initiatives have created additional targeted educational opportunities and collaborations. However, despite all these good developments, further training is needed at the graduate level, as well as in continuing education for professionals, to address the fast-increasing demands of TBM conservation.

Under the leadership of Dr. Hannelore Roemich, Professor of Conservation Science and TBM program Director, I have also served as TBM Program Coordinator to assist in identifying skill sets and core competencies of TBM conservators that translate into the educational needs to develop a TBM curriculum. In the fall of 2016 the Conservation Center offered the course and public lecture series Topics in Time-based Media Art Conservation, which included ten lectures by leading art historians, artists, computer scientists, and conservators. These events were an important outreach component of the curriculum development project, and they created the opportunity to promote the field, foster the dialogue between TBM professionals, and build a community.

We are now organizing the upcoming symposium It’s About Time! Building a New Discipline: Time-based Media Art Conservation to be held in May 2018. The two-day symposium will provide a forum for educators, artists, art historians, museum curators and directors, collectors, gallerists, engineers, computer scientists, and conservators to promote TBM art conservation as a discipline on an international level and will conclude the TBM curriculum planning phase.

ECPN: Do you have any advice for prospective emerging conservators who would like to pursue this specialization?

Cathode Ray Tube monitor [Photo: Christine Frohnert]
Cathode Ray Tube monitor [Photo: Christine Frohnert]
CF: While I am not comfortable issuing general advice, I can say that I personally appreciate working with students and colleagues in our field, and that this has shaped and enriched my professional life. If you are a strong communicator who is interested in the intersection of art and technology, art conservation, and art history– and maybe you even have a background in one or more of the related media fields–why don’t you join the EMG sessions at the AIC annual meetings and/or attend the upcoming NYU symposium to engage with the TBM community and find out if this specialty may be just the right fit for you?

ECPN:  Please share any last thoughts or reflections.

CF: We currently see an extremely high demand for trained TBM conservators. This can be measured by the exponentially increasing job offers worldwide and the challenges many institutions face to find qualified candidates. So, it is safe to say that this is the best moment in time for becoming a TBM conservator in this country. If you are interested in pursuing a career in TBM conservation- check out the new TBM curriculum page at the Conservation Center, Institute of Fine Arts at NYU.



ECPN Interviews: Electronic Media Conservation with Yasmin Dessem

To promote awareness and a clearer understanding of different pathways into specializations that require particular training, the Emerging Conservation Professionals Network (ECPN) is conducting a series of interviews with conservation professionals in these specialties. We kicked off the series with Chinese and Japanese painting conservation, and now we are focusing on practitioners in AIC’s Electronic Media Group (EMG). These conservators work with time-based media, which can include moving components, performance, light or sound elements, film and video, analog or born-digital materials. We’ve asked our interviewees to share some thoughts about their career paths, which we hope will inspire new conservation professionals and provide valuable insight into these areas of our professional field.

This is the third post from ECPN’s EMG blog series, for which we first interview Nick Kaplan and more recently, Alex Nichols. For our third interview from the EMG series, we spoke with Yasmin Dessem, currently Head of the Audiovisual Preservation Studio at UCLA Library where she serves as the technical lead as the library continues to develop its program of preservation, digitization and access of its moving image and sound holdings. Previously she managed archive deliverables for new feature releases at Paramount Pictures. She has experience working with a wide variety of moving image and sound formats, as well as pre-film animation devices, silent-era cameras, costumes and paper collections. Yasmin holds Master’s degrees in Art History and Moving Image Archive Studies from UCLA.

Yasmin Dessem (left) and Allie Whalen (right) cleaning and relubricating a Betacam deck. [Photo: Walter Urie]
Yasmin Dessem (left) and Allie Whalen (right) cleaning and relubricating a Betacam deck. [Photo: Walter Urie]
ECPN: Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your current position.

Yasmin Dessem (YD): I oversee the preservation of moving image and recorded sound materials at the UCLA Library’s Preservation Department. For nearly 90 years, the UCLA Library has collected audiovisual materials with content such as home movies, oral histories, and radio broadcasts. Examples are home movies of Susan Sontag’s parents sailing to China in the 1920s and field interviews with Watts residents after the 1965 riots. Audiovisual preservation (AV) at the library is a relatively young unit—a dedicated AV preservationist first came on board in 2011. We offer a number of in-house digitization and preservation services and are currently focusing on increasing our capacity and launching a survey.

ECPN: How were you first introduced to conservation, and why did you decide to pursue conservation?

YD: The 1996 re-release of the restored version of Vertigo first made me aware of film restoration and preservation as an actual practice. Later, as I was finishing my Masters in Art History at UCLA, I took a wonderful class on restoration, preservation, and conservation with Professor David A. Scott. The course covered the material care issues and decision-making ethics for a wide breadth of cultural heritage materials. The class struck a deep chord with me, but I was eager to graduate and start working. After graduation, I ended up working in the film industry for about six years. I was tracking down historic stock footage at one job when my mind circled back to the preservation field as I considered how the films were stored and made available. I had entertained the idea of potentially returning to graduate school to study art conservation some day, but around that time the idea of film preservation as a possible career path began to fully materialize for me. As a result, I began exploring potential graduate programs.

ECPN: Of all specializations, what contributed to your decision to pursue electronic media conservation?

YD: My longtime love for film and music intersected with my curiosity for all things historical and technology-related. These were topics that in one form or another always interested me, but I don’t think I had a full grasp on how to combine them meaningfully into a profession. Preservation was the missing key. My exposure to preservation and conservation while studying art history and my later experience working at film studios both helped direct me towards the specialization.

ECPN: What has been your training pathway?  Please list any universities, apprenticeships, technical experience, and any related jobs or hobbies.

YD: I pursued my studies in the Moving Image Archive Studies (MIAS) Program at UCLA—which persists today as a Master of Library and Information Science (M.L.I.S.) with a Media Archival Studies specialization. While in the program, I completed internships with Universal Pictures and the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, and volunteered at the Hugh Hefner Moving Image Archive at the University of Southern California. Throughout the two-year MIAS program, I also worked as a fellow at the Center for Primary Research and Training program at UCLA Library Special Collections, where I learned archival processing. My experiences weren’t limited to preserving moving image and sound media, but included paper-based collections, costumes, and film technology. After graduating I attended the International Federation of Film Archives (FIAF) Film Restoration Summer School hosted by the Cineteca di Bologna and L’Immagine Ritrovata.

ECPN: Are there any particular skills that you feel are important or unique to your discipline?

YD: Digital preservation will continue to be a key area of expertise that’s needed in museums and archives. Preserving the original source material and digitizing content is not enough. There are more resources than ever for strategies and tools for digital preservation, and it’s important to seek them out. Another valuable skill is developing a level of comfort with handling and understanding the unique characteristics of a wide variety of physical analog formats  such as film, videotape, audiotape, and grooved media (LP, 78s, lacquer discs, wax cylinders, etc.). Similarly, it’s helpful to have a familiarity with playback devices for these obsolete media formats (equipment like open-reel decks or video decks.) Lastly, metadata can be an unsung hero in media preservation. Often, we’re the first to see or hear a recording in decades, so capturing metadata around the point of transfer is critical. Metadata standards can be a rabbit hole of complexities, especially when it comes to describing audiovisual media, but understanding their application is an essential skill.

Lacquer disc cleaning and transfer workshop at the Instituto de Historia de Cuba in Havana, Cuba [Photo: Yasmin Dessem]
Lacquer disc cleaning and transfer workshop at the Instituto de Historia de Cuba in Havana, Cuba [Photo: Yasmin Dessem]
ECPN: What are some of your current projects, research, or interests?

YD: We’re just wrapping up digitization of materials from the Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Company (GSM), an African American-owned and operated insurance firm established in Los Angeles in 1925 in response to discriminatory practices that restricted the ability of African American residents to purchase insurance. GSM operated for 85 years and their collection is a vibrant resource documenting Los Angeles and the empowerment of a community. We received grants from the National Film Preservation Foundation and the John Randolph Haynes and Dora Haynes Foundation to support this work. The digitized collection is now available on Calisphere. We’ve just started a crowd sourcing project working with former GSM staffers to describe any unidentified content. It’s been one of the most rewarding experiences of my career, hearing everyone’s stories and seeing how much it means to everyone involved to have this collection preserved and made available.

We’ve also been in preparation to launch a large-scale survey that will help us gather data on the Library’s audiovisual collections that can be used for long term-planning. Outside of UCLA, we’ve been involved with ongoing work with cultural heritage institutions in Cuba. Last February, I set up equipment and held a workshop on the digitization of radio transcription discs held at the Instituto de Historia de Cuba (IHC) in Havana. I’m heading back there next week to begin a project to transfer IHC’s open reel audio collections.

ECPN: In your opinion, what is an important research area or need in your specialization?

YD: It’s crucial to preserve the expertise related to the operation and repair of playback equipment. Playback equipment will become more and more difficult to source in the future. Engineers, whose entire careers are dedicated to the use and care of this equipment, are some of the best resources for this knowledge. Their knowledge is shared through conversation, YouTube videos, social media, and professional workshops. Documenting the skills required to handle, maintain, calibrate, and service this equipment in a more formalized way and sharing that knowledge widely will ensure that the preservationists can keep their equipment viable for longer.

ECPN: Do you have any advice for prospective emerging conservators who would like to pursue this specialization?

YD: Try everything. Media preservation requires a wide variety of skills from computer coding to soldering decades-old circuit boards. Depending on where your career takes you, it’s good to have at least a passing familiarity with the full range of skills you may need to call upon. Apply for internships or fellowships with organizations, like the National Digital Stewardship Residency. Volunteer at community-based archives that need help getting their collections in order. Join professional organizations, like the Association of Recorded Sound Collections (ARSC) or the Association of Moving Image Archivists. Attend conferences like code4lib, the Preservation and Archiving Special Interest Group (PASIG), or the Digital Asset Symposium (DAS). Network with engineers or preservation professionals to continue to grow your own expertise, but also share your own skills when you can. Collaboration and knowledge-sharing are a fundamental part of the profession.

Perforation repair of 16 mm film [Photo: Yasmin Dessem]
Perforation repair of 16 mm film [Photo: Yasmin Dessem]
ECPN: Please share any last thoughts or reflections.

YD: One thing to be aware of, if you’re a woman in the field of audiovisual preservation, is that you may occasionally run into people who are surprised to see a woman working with technology (much less wielding a screwdriver!). This response persists to some degree despite the presence of many successful female professionals in the field. What’s encouraging, however, is seeing the growth of groups like the Women in Recorded Sound collective at ARSC providing support.

Audiovisual preservation is such a gratifying profession. Having the opportunity to make historic content available is incredibly meaningful work that I feel lucky to be a part of everyday. On an even more basic level, figuring out a new workflow or getting a piece of equipment to finally work is just so viscerally satisfying. I’m part of an amazing team whose passion, humor and willingness to try out new things inspires me every day and makes me feel so lucky to be doing this work.