Museum Technicians and Conservators

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Also known as:
Art Conservator, Art Preparator, Conservation Technician, Ethnographic Materials Conservator, Museum Exhibit Technician, Objects Conservator, Paintings Conservator, Paper Conservator, Textile Conservator

ABOUT MUSEUM TECHNICIAN OR CONSERVATOR CAREERS
Video transcript

Museums would be dreary places if not for the ingenious work of museum technicians and conservators. Whether preparing a painting for display or creating a housing to store priceless objects, museum professionals use their skill and knowledge to engage audiences of all ages.

Conservators typically train in graduate level programs specifically designed for museum work. Technicians may receive on-the-job training while working on their undergraduate degrees.

Museum technicians and conservators often develop a passionate interest in subjects ranging from art works that are hundreds of years old, to objects that are thousands of miles away. Then that intellectual pursuit becomes physical.

Technicians and conservators use science and a wide range of techniques to perform their work, so they need to be skilled with their hands as well as their brains. The result can be a new display that brings the past alive or puts the present into global perspective.

SNAPSHOT
Restore, maintain, or prepare objects in museum collections for storage, research, or exhibit. May work with specimens such as fossils, skeletal parts, or botanicals; or artifacts, textiles, or art. May identify and record objects or install and arrange them in exhibits. Includes book or document conservators.
Leadership
HIGH
Critical decision making
HIGH
Level of responsibilities
HIGH
Job challenge and pressure to meet deadlines
HIGH
Dealing and handling conflict
LOW
Competition for this position
LOW
Communication with others
LOW
Work closely with team members, clients etc.
HIGH
Comfort of the work setting
HIGH
Exposure to extreme environmental conditions
LOW
Exposure to job hazards
LOW
Physical demands
LOW
Daily tasks

Lead tours and teach educational courses to students and the general public.

Recommend preservation procedures, such as control of temperature and humidity, to curatorial and building staff.

Prepare artifacts for storage and shipping.

Determine whether objects need repair and choose the safest and most effective method of repair.

Notify superior when restoration of artifacts requires outside experts.

Clean objects, such as paper, textiles, wood, metal, glass, rock, pottery, and furniture, using cleansers, solvents, soap solutions, and polishes.

Supervise and work with volunteers.

Repair, restore, and reassemble artifacts, designing and fabricating missing or broken parts, to restore them to their original appearance and prevent deterioration.

Install, arrange, assemble, and prepare artifacts for exhibition, ensuring the artifacts' safety, reporting their status and condition, and identifying and correcting any problems with the set up.

Enter information about museum collections into computer databases.

Photograph objects for documentation.

MAIN ACTIVITIES
Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
Getting Information Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Handling and Moving Objects Using hands and arms in handling, installing, positioning, and moving materials, and manipulating things.
Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
Making Decisions and Solving Problems Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
Performing General Physical Activities Performing physical activities that require considerable use of your arms and legs and moving your whole body, such as climbing, lifting, balancing, walking, stooping, and handling of materials.
AREAS OF KNOWLEDGE
Fine Arts Knowledge of the theory and techniques required to compose, produce, and perform works of music, dance, visual arts, drama, and sculpture.
English Language Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
Public Safety and Security Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
History and Archeology Knowledge of historical events and their causes, indicators, and effects on civilizations and cultures.
Administration and Management Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
Chemistry Knowledge of the chemical composition, structure, and properties of substances and of the chemical processes and transformations that they undergo. This includes uses of chemicals and their interactions, danger signs, production techniques, and disposal methods.
Clerical Knowledge of administrative and clerical procedures and systems such as word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and other office procedures and terminology.
Mechanical Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
TOP SKILLS
Active Listening Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Speaking Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Reading Comprehension Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
Writing Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
Critical Thinking Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
Monitoring Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
Complex Problem Solving Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
Judgment and Decision Making Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.