How to Become an Art Conservator?

By The Arty Teacher - November 4, 1989

What is an Art Conservator?

An art conservator is responsible for preserving and restoring artworks and ensuring they remain in good condition for future generations to enjoy. Their expertise covers a wide range of art forms, including paintings, sculptures, textiles, and historical artifacts. Art conservators use scientific analysis, careful cleaning, and repair techniques to stop deterioration, damage, and aging.

What Skills does an Art Conservator need?

To become an art conservator, you should have a talent for delicate and patient hands-on work, an interest in chemistry, and a belief that art and artifacts should be preserved for future generations to enjoy.

What Qualification does an Art Conservator Need?

Art conservators require a combination of education, specialized training, and practical experience. Typically, they hold a bachelor’s degree in fields such as art conservation, art history, or chemistry, which provide a foundational knowledge of art materials and techniques. Many conservators also have a masters degree. During their education, they gain hands-on experience through internships and practical training in conservation labs. Art conservators also need strong analytical skills, as they use scientific methods and technologies to assess and restore artworks. Continuous learning and staying updated on the latest conservation practices and materials are essential to remain proficient in this ever-evolving field.

Types of Art Conservator

Art conservators may have different areas of expertise. They may specialise in one or more of the following:

  1. Paintings Conservator: Specialises in preserving and restoring paintings, including canvas, panel, and mural artworks, often working with various painting techniques, pigments, and varnishes.
  2. Paper Conservator: Focuses on the conservation of works on paper, such as drawings, prints, manuscripts, and documents, addressing issues like paper degradation and ink stability.
  3. Textile Conservator: Specialises in the preservation of textiles, including clothing, tapestries, and historic textiles, managing issues like fabric deterioration and dye instability.
  4. Objects Conservator: Works with three-dimensional objects, such as sculptures, ceramics, metalwork, and archaeological artifacts, to ensure their structural integrity and aesthetic preservation.
  5. Furniture Conservator: Concentrates on the conservation of wooden furniture and decorative arts, addressing issues like wood decay, finish restoration, and structural stability.
  6. Photographs Conservator: Focuses on the preservation and restoration of photographs, including black and white, color, and digital prints, considering factors like emulsion deterioration and fading.
  7. Electronic Media Conservator: Specialises in conserving electronic and time-based media art, including video, film, and digital installations, ensuring proper playback and longevity.
  8. Book and Manuscript Conservator: Specialises in preserving books, manuscripts, and historical documents, handling issues like binding repair, paper conservation, and ink stability.
  9. Glass and Ceramics Conservator: Concentrates on the restoration of glassware, ceramics, and porcelain objects, addressing issues like cracks, chips, and glaze deterioration.
  10. Archaeological Conservator: Works with archaeological artifacts and antiquities, using techniques to stabilise and restore ancient objects while maintaining their historical context.
  11. Built Heritage Conservator: Specialises in the preservation of architectural structures, historic buildings, and heritage sites, managing issues related to decay, restoration, and cultural significance.

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The Arty Teacher

Sarah Crowther is The Arty Teacher. She is a high school art teacher in the North West of England. She strives to share her enthusiasm for art by providing art teachers around the globe with high-quality resources and by sharing her expertise through this blog.

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