Pre-program internship in Conservation (Washington DC, USA)

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art is the only facility in the United States dedicated exclusively to the exhibition and preservation of Africa’s traditional and contemporary arts.  With generous funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the NMAfA is offering a paid pre-program internship for individuals preparing to apply to a graduate-level training program in art conservation.  As part of an initiative to promote diversity in the field and conservation training, the program will offer the opportunity to gain broad experience in multiple specialties, which may include objects, textiles, paper or paintings.

Learning objectives for interns include:

  • Learn to perform condition exams, carry out written and photographic documentation, treat artworks
  • Participate in preventive conservation activities
  • Gain: an understanding of materials and techniques; an introduction to treatment problem-solving; hands-on experience.
  • Develop a portfolio for application to graduate programs.

Desired Prerequisites: Applicants must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents with demonstrable academic commitment to fulfilling the pre-requisites in art history, studio art and chemistry for application to a conservation graduate program.

  • Term(s):  The 6-month, 40 hours/week internship will commence in Fall 2018
  • Stipend:  $600/week stipend plus additional funds to help defray the cost of travel to Washington DC.
  • Deadline:  March 1, 2018
  • Contact Information: Dana Moffett,

Apply Through: Applicants must register and submit an online application via the Smithsonian Online Academic Appointment system (SOLAA). After registering, sign onto the SOLAA system.  At the top of the screen, select “Start your Application”; Select “Internship” and “National Museum of African Art” from the drop-down program lists; choose “Pre-program Internship.”

Application requirements via SOLAA:

  • Short essay (no more than three pages total)
  1. A statement of your interest in this internship at the NMAfA and what you hope to gain from the experience.
  2. Please discuss the impact that a funded internship would have on you and your education.
  3. Provide a short biography describing your background, personal history, and interests.
  • Curriculum Vitae or Resume
  • Undergraduate transcripts (unofficial)
  • Two letters of reference

For more details, visit:

Internship: Pre-Graduate Program Conservation Internship, Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of the American Indian (Suitland, MD, USA)

Application deadline: February 15, 2017
This is a six-month internship for individuals interested in entering a conservation graduate program specializing in Native American ethnographic and archaeological objects:  organic and inorganic materials.
Requirements: Undergraduate degree in art, history, anthropology, or other field related to Native American ethnographic and archaeological material and a 3.0 GPA or better required.  Organic chemistry highly recommended.
Internship carries a stipend, commences Fall 2017, and is located in Suitland, MD.
Deadline: Online applications must be submitted no later than February 15, 2017. Notification by April 30, 2017. For additional information about how to register and apply via the Smithsonian Online Academic Appointment system, please visit:

Internship: Summer Internships in Ethnographic Artifact and Textile Conservation – Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian (Suitland, MD, USA)

Dates of internship: June 5, 2017 – August 11, 2017
The National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) is offering up to two 10-week internships in ethnographic artifact and textile conservation funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.  The Conservation Laboratory at NMAI’s Cultural Resource Center in Suitland, MD (Metro DC area) is the work site.
Andrew W. Mellon internships focus primarily on the survey and treatment of artifacts for exhibits at NMAI’s facilities in Washington, D.C., and New York City, loans and other ongoing projects.  Candidates who demonstrate a career interest in the conservation of material culture of indigenous peoples of North, South and Central American will be especially welcome to apply. Candidates must be fluent in both spoken and written English. The internships are designed for students currently in or graduated from a graduate program in conservation or practicing conservation professionals. The internships are intended to cultivate practical skills as well as to foster a solid understanding of the contexts of material culture, the philosophies of conservation at NMAI, and the ethics of the conservation profession. Museum programming involves collaboration with Native Peoples in the development of appropriate methods of care for, and interpretation of their cultural materials.
Applications must be completed by midnight, February 1, 2017 (including reference letters).  All applicants will be notified by April 15, 2017.
Application process is via Smithsonian On-Line Academic Appointment system (SOLAA).  For information on application and link to SOLAA visit:

The 10-week internship includes a stipend.

Fellowship: 2017-2018 Smithsonian Postgraduate/Postdoctoral Fellowships in Conservation of Museum Collections Program (Washington DC, USA)

All applications must be submitted by December 1, 2016
This fellowship program is offered by the Smithsonian Institution to provide opportunities for recent graduates of masters programs in art and archaeological conservation or the equivalent or conservation scientists, including those at the postdoctoral level, who wish to conduct research and gain further training in Smithsonian conservation laboratories for conservation of objects in museum collections.
These fellowships are offered through the Smithsonian’s Office of Fellowships and Internships. They are administered under the charter of the Institution, 20 U.S. Code section 41 et seq. Fellowship awards under this program are contingent upon the availability of funds.
This fellowship program is offered by the Smithsonian Institution to provide opportunities for recent graduates of masters programs in art and archaeological conservation or the equivalent or conservation scientists, including those at the postdoctoral level, who wish to conduct research and gain further training in Smithsonian conservation laboratories for conservation of objects in museum collections.
These fellowships are offered through the Smithsonian’s Office of Fellowships and Internships. They are are administered under the charter of the Institution, 20 U.S. Code section 41 et seq. Fellowship awards under this program are contingent upon the availability of funds.

  • Applicants must propose to conduct research in the conservation of objects in museum collections in conservation laboratories at the Smithsonian Institution. Past or current Smithsonian fellowship recipients are eligible to apply for future Smithsonian awards.
  • No employee or contractor of the Smithsonian Institution may hold a Smithsonian fellowship during the time of his/her employment or contract, nor may an award be offered to any person who has been employed by or under contract to the Institution in the previous year, without the prior approval of the Office of Fellowships.
  • Applicants whose native language is not English are expected to have the ability to write and converse fluently in English. All application materials must be presented in English (foreign transcripts may be translated, see below).

How it Works
Postgraduate/Postdoctoral Conservation Fellowships are usually awarded for one year, but applications for shorter periods will be considered with three months being the minimum. In accepting an appointment, the fellow is expected to be in residence at the Smithsonian except for approved absences.
Financial support, in addition to a Smithsonian fellowship, for such purposes as research travel and equipment may be received from other sources, provided that no special demands are made upon the fellow’s time. Permission to receive additional stipend support must be requested in writing from the Office of Fellowships.
Postgraduate/Postdoctoral Conservation Fellows will conduct research and study in conservation laboratories at the Smithsonian Institution. The prospective fellow must first contact the conservator or scientist with whom he or she would like to work and is encouraged to seek direction with crafting an effective proposal. Previously successful proposals have benefited from the proposed mentor’s guidance in navigating the Smithsonian collections. Applicants should consult the Smithsonian Opportunities for Research and Study (SORS) in advance to select a proposed advisor who can assist with accessing facilities and necessary equipment. The amount of support services available to the fellow will be determined by the workload of the department and the policy of the department chairperson and/or unit director. Additional analytical facilities may be available at the Museum Conservation Institute (MCI). Fellows have access to the Smithsonian Institution Libraries with privileges which include borrowing library materials, inter-library loans, document delivery, database searching, and reference assistance.
It is important that applicants consider the following factors carefully when choosing the dates for the proposed fellowship:

  • The schedule of their proposed adviser/host and the availability of required resources.
  • The dates of tenure proposed in the application (and any change of dates if the fellowship is awarded) should be selected in agreement with the proposed principal adviser.
  • In submitting an application for a fellowship at the Institution, the applicant does not incur any obligation to accept the appointment if selected.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact staff members (listed below) to help identify potential advisers, determine the feasibility of the proposed research being conducted at the Smithsonian Institution, and the availability of relevant resources such as staff, collections, archives and library materials during the proposed tenure dates. Additional facilities may be available to museum or archives fellows for analytical work at the Museum Conservation Institute (MCI).
Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
Kira Eng-Wilmot, Senior Textile Conservator, (decorative/applied arts: textiles, paper, three-dimensional objects) +1 212-849-8462;
Freer and Sackler Galleries
Andrew Hare, Supervisory Conservator, East Asian Painting, (objects, paper, and Asian paintings; and conservation science) +1 202-633-0370; Special note: Due to museum construction, the Freer and Sackler Galleries are not currently accepting applications for fellowships in this cycle; however they do welcome inquiries from persons interested in developing a project at a future date.
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
Gwynne Ryan, Chief Conservator, (modern materials) +1 202-633- 2728; ryangw@si.ed
Museum Conservation Institute
Carol Grissom, Senior Objects Conservator, +1 301-238-1236,
National Air and Space Museum
Malcolm Collum, Engen Conservation Chair, (objects) +1 703-572-4361;
National Museum of African Art
Dana Moffett, Senior Conservator, (objects) +1 202-633-4614; Special note: The National Museum of African Art is not accepting applications for the Smithsonian Conservation fellowships but will have other fellowship opportunities available for the 2017-2018 cycle. More information please contact:
National Museum of American History
Janice Ellis, Senior Paper Conservator, (books and paper) +1 202-633-3623;
Sunae Park Evans, Senior Costume Conservator, (costumes and textiles) +1 202-633-3629;
Beth Richwine, Senior Objects Conservator, (objects) +1 202-633-3639;
National Museum of Natural History
Catharine Hawks, Natural History Conservator, (natural history and anthropological objects) +1 202-633-0835;
National Portrait Gallery
Lou Molnar, Head of Conservation, (paintings and paper) +1 202-633-5822;
Smithsonian American Art Museum
Tiarna Doherty, Chief of Conservation, (colonial to contemporary paintings, paper, objects, and frames) +1 202-633-5802;
Smithsonian Institution Archives
Nora Lockshin, Senior Conservator, (archives, books, and paper) +1 202-633-5913;
*All applications must be submitted by December 1, 2016
*Notification of decisions will be made no later than April 1, 2017.
General Application Information
All applications should be sent through our SOLAA system.
Once registered and logged in you will need to complete the requested information regarding mailing address, academic history, current university or college etc.
You can find the application for the opportunity under the Office of Fellowships and Internships.
Files you will need to upload
Abstract: An abstract of the proposed research, not more than one page (please upload this in the same file with your Research Proposal).
Research Proposal: The full statement of your research, maximum THREE PAGES typescript. It should be double spaced, excluding all other parts of the application, such as the abstract and bibliography. Do not use type smaller than 12 point font. In preparing your proposal, be sure to provide and address the following:

  • A description of the research you plan to undertake at the Smithsonian Institution, including the methodology to be utilized.
  • The importance of the work, both in relation to the broader discipline and to your own scholarly goals.
  • Justification for conducting your research at the Smithsonian and utilization of research facilities and resources.
  • Identification of the member of the Smithsonian’s research staff who might serve as your principal adviser/host. Also identify potential co-adviser(s) and/or consultant(s), if applicable. The publication, Smithsonian Opportunities for Research and Study (SORS), contains the necessary information on staff research specialties and current departmental interests to help you determine which staff members are best suited to your research needs. Research staff may be named by applicants to serve as principal advisers, co-advisers or consultants. Affiliated research staff may be named as co-advisers or consultants if they will be in residence during at least a portion of the tenure period proposed. You are strongly encouraged to correspond with your proposed adviser(s) as you prepare your proposal.

Budget and Justification: Budget and justification for equipment, supplies, research-related travel costs, and other support required to conduct the research itself (excluding stipend and relocation costs). You are encouraged to discuss potential research costs with your proposed adviser(s) before submitting your application. If the funds required to support the research exceed the maximum research allowance of $4,000, please explain the source of additional funds.
Bibliography: A bibliography of literature relevant to the applicant’s proposed research.
Curriculum Vitae: Curriculum vitae, including previous and current fellowships, grants, and/or awards, and a description of your research interests. If English is not your native language, describe the level of your proficiency in reading, conversing, and writing in English.
Transcripts (unofficial are acceptable): Transcripts (or other materials when transcripts are not issued) from all appropriate institutions are required, except for senior fellowship applications. Applicants for postdoctoral fellowships need only submit graduate transcripts. If transcripts or other materials are not in English, the applicant should provide translations.

  • You will need the names and email addresses of two persons familiar with your work. Please note that all reference letters are considered confidential unless confidentiality has been specifically waived by the referee. Do not list Smithsonian staff members as your referees; they will have the opportunity to review your application after it is submitted.
  • Please provide a copy of your proposal and a copy of Letter to Referee (downloadable pdf) to your referees.
  • All reference letters will be considered confidential and the contents will not be revealed to the applicant unless confidentiality has been specifically waived by the referee. Therefore, please have the reference submit in sufficient time to meet the application deadline.
  • The application, consisting of the proposal, academic records, and two supporting letters, will be reviewed by members of the Smithsonian’s research staff. Applications will be evaluated on the basis of the proposal’s merit, the ability of the applicant to carry out the proposed research and study, and the extent to which the Smithsonian, through its staff members and resources, can contribute to the proposed research.
  • Through the system (SOLAA) you will send an email to these referees so they can provide references through the web.

Selection Criteria:
Applications are evaluated by a Smithsonian Peer Review Committee made up of scholars in appropriate fields. Fellows are selected based on the following:

  • Proposal’s merit
  • Applicant’s ability to carry out the proposed research and study
  • Likelihood that the research could be completed in the requested time
  • Extent to which the Smithsonian, through its research staff members and resources, could contribute to the proposed research.

The Fellowship Program does not discriminate on grounds of race, creed, sex, age, marital status, condition of handicap, or national origin of any applicant.
For more information visit: Fellowships & Internships

44th Annual Meeting – General Session: Lead by Example, Models to Follow, Track E, May 16, “PRICE: Preparedness and Response in Collections Emergencies,” by Sarah Stauderman

The Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC has long dealt with collection emergencies. One of the first major disasters in their history was a construction fire that broke out on January 24, 1865 in the Smithsonian Institution Building, lovingly known as the Castle. This fire started between the ceiling and the roof of the main hall when workmen accidentally inserted a stove pipe into the brick lining of the building, instead of into a flue. In another unfortunate twist of fate, Secretary Joseph Henry (1797-1878) had established a winter-time fuel conservation program throughout the building, causing the water-filled fire buckets located in the hallways to freeze in the frigid temperatures. The library and many early collections, including the papers of James Smithson, were largely destroyed.

Fire in Smithsonian Institution Building, by Gardner, Alexander 1821-1882, January 24, 1865, Smithsonian Archives – History Div, 37082 or MAH-37082.

Now, one hundred and fifty years later, colleagues at the Smithsonian Institution have come together to discuss the roles they play in the prevention, preparation, and response to collections-related emergencies. While the Smithsonian currently maintains a robust disaster management program, it focuses primarily on human safety, which no one would argue comes first in any emergency. However, recognizing the need for planning for collections, staff has recently developed a concept for the Institution called PRICE, or Preparation and Response In Collections Emergencies.
The Smithsonian Institution policy on emergencies is encoded in Directives. Two directives that pertain to stewardship for collections in emergencies are: Smithsonian Directive (SD) 109 and SD 600. SD 109 sets requirements at both an institutional- and unit-level for emergency management pans. SD 600 establishes policies and standards for all aspects of collections management, which includes emergency management.
Two recent and notable emergencies sparked this reevaluation of collections emergency preparedness – the collapse of the Garber Facility in 2010 due to the weight of snow on the roof, and an earthquake in the DC region in 2011. Several areas for improvement were identified from these events:

  • Training for all staff. There is a need to effectively inform staff about proper lifesaving responses to specific emergencies (such as earthquakes), the Incident Command System, and procedures for access to affected facilities.
  • Training for collection emergency response staff. There is a need for training on safety, related to collection-based hazards, post-damage assessment methods, and salvage techniques for specific media types.
  • Quality control during installation and inspection of storage furniture.
  • Design of storage housing and exhibit mounts to minimize damage in the event of a future seismic event.
  • Collections spaces to tolerate risks, such as and earthquake or flood.

In the context of these recent emergencies, the Smithsonian has been approaching preventive conservation initiatives pan-institutionally. For example:

  • “Strengthening collections” is listed as part of the Institution’s strategic plan, as is broadening access
  • Through the National Collections Program (NCP), there are four leadership groups currently addressing collections stewardship: Collections Advisory Committee, Collections Space Committee, Digitization Program Office (DPO), and several media-specific initiatives.
  • The Collections Emergency Working Group, which formulated the PRICE initiative, brought together collections managers, conservators, physical security specialists, NCP staff, and facilities professionals.

The Collections Emergency Working Group recommended that in the event an emergency involves collections, the Emergency Operation Center and National Collections Program will have the PRICE team of collections responders to assist and activate response and recovery. Since the Smithsonian uses the Incident Command System (ICS) for emergencies, the PRICE team would fit seamlessly into its structure as one of the reporting groups to the incident commander. For more information about ICS in libraries, archives, and museums, check out David Carmichael’s book on the topic.
The PRICE committee structure will be that of six members and a chair. (Samantha Snell joined the NCP in March 2016 as the PRICE chair.) The team will follow the emergency life-cycle of preparedness, response, and recovery, and consists of three concentrations that must be addressed throughout an emergency – policy and procedures, training, and logistics.

PRICE Structure, Powerpoint, S. Stauderman.
PRICE Structure, Powerpoint, S. Stauderman.

Just remember that the PRICE initiative does NOT replace or duplicate emergency command centers (ECCs) or replace unit plans. However, it DOES enable ECCs, synthesize planning efforts, develop capacity, foster Smithsonian sharing, and take as models, the Alliance for Response and Cultural Recovery Center.
This concept is now in its initial implementation phase at the Smithsonian, so stay tuned for more exciting news about this initiative!