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Art Conservation Degree Program Information

Individuals interested in art conservation may obtain a bachelor's degree in art conservation, pre-art conservation or art with an emphasis in museum conservation. Graduate students may obtain an M.A. or a Master of Science (M.S.) in Art Conservation.

Essential Information

Students in a bachelor's degree program in art conservation must complete general education courses as well as study subjects related to their majors such as art history, foreign languages and studio art. Other courses teach them to care for diverse objects including photographs, tools, buildings and documents. Master's programs in art conservation teach students what causes art to deteriorate and gives them hands-on experience in conservation and restoration techniques.

  • Program Levels in Art Conservation: Bachelor's degree, Master's degree
  • Prerequisites: High school diploma or GED, portfolio of own art work, bachelors degree in related field or acceptable coursework in art conservation,
  • Program Specializations: Museum Studies, Textiles, Furniture, Paintings, among others
  • Other Requirements: Internship, study abroad(optional), thesis, research paper and presentation

Bachelor's Degree in Art Conservation

Bachelor's programs in art conservation are interdisciplinary, integrating art history, studio art, foreign languages and chemistry. These programs train students in the handling and restoration techniques of man-made objects, photographs, documents, fabric, tools, buildings and other material culture. Students are sometimes required to double major or minor in a related discipline, such as anthropology or art history. The curriculum is based on art and sciences and includes hands-on learning. Drawing is a common topic along with the following:

  • Art history
  • Organic chemistry
  • Art conservation ethics
  • Museum conservation
  • Preservation
  • Archeology

Masters Degree Programs in Art Conservation

In master's programs, art conservation students learn advanced preservation techniques and about specialties within the field. Graduate programs typically last between two and four years and culminate with an internship at a museum or art conservation firm. Students in master's programs learn to use conservation technology, the reasons behind deterioration and how to prevent it, material properties and research methods. Core topics may include:

  • Conservation science
  • Conservation history
  • Art connoisseurship
  • Preventive conservation and maintenance
  • Inorganic artistic materials
  • Conservation of paintings

Popular Career Options

According to the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC), a graduate degree is typically necessary to become an art conservator (www.conservation-us.org). Graduates of an art conservation bachelor's program may qualify for entry-level positions in museums or other art settings. Possible occupations include:

  • Collections manager
  • Museum registrar
  • Museum technician

Career Outlook and Salary Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts a 11% growth rate for museum technicians and conservators between 2012 and 2022, which is faster than average for all other professions (www.bls.gov). As of May 2010, the median annual wage for archivist, curators and museum workers was $39,940, reported the BLS.

Continuing Education Info

After obtaining a master's degree, students may purse a terminal Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Art Conservation Research. Ph.D. programs may appeal to students interested in art conservation research.

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