Conservation Opportunities for Students

Conservation activities are performed by trained professionals with specific skills and experience in specializations such as paintings, paper, objects, textiles, etc. The website of the American Institute for Conservation provides information on "Becoming a Conservator". The Parsons Conservation lab offers opportunities to students considering a career in conservation or allied profession.
Volunteer or academic-credit internships may be arranged at the discretion of the conservator on a project-specific basis. The course “Issues in the Conservation of Art and Cultural Property” is generally considered a pre-requisite for lab internships. The Museum’s annual summer Mellon internship program may include positions or activities in the conservation lab. Advanced internships can also be arranged for graduate students currently enrolled in a conservation degree program.

Students from many academic disciplines may pursue object-based research, working with the conservation lab in the technical investigation of materials, methods of manufacture, and age.  These projects are supervised by the conservator and are developed in collaboration with the appropriate curator(s). The website of the American Institute for Conservation provides information on "Becoming a Conservator". The Parsons Conservation lab offers opportunities to students considering a career in conservation or allied profession.


Semester-long courses related to the field of conservation are offered through the Art History department.

ArtHist 387/ 592: Issues in the Conservation of Art and Cultural Property
This course will provide an introduction to the field of Art Conservation as well as an overview of the principle issues surrounding the care and preservation of cultural properties. Lecture and discussion will address historic materials and technologies, as well as aging properties, deterioration, and conservation treatment. Examples will be drawn from a wide variety of cultures and will represent diverse media, including paper, paintings, stone, metals, ceramics, archaeological remains, and historic monuments. We will examine the use of science to recognize fakes or forgeries, document artists' working methods, and identify historic materials. Discussions will consider issues of aesthetics, artist’s intent, change over time, and compensation for loss or damage.

ArtHist 393/ Phys 380: Special Topic – Investigating Art with Physics
This course will introduce students to a selection of art materials and to the physical techniques used to analyze them. Questions of material choice, working method, authenticity, provenance, and restoration are each addressed through the scientific investigation of art. Lecture and discussion will consider historical uses of materials in the production of art, as well as the circumstances motivating the scientific investigation of specific objects. Case studies from the Carlos Museum collection will provide context for these discussions. In hands-on workshops students will produce paper, drawings, and paintings on which they will conduct practical lab experiments using beta radiography, infrared reflectography, neutron activation analysis, and ultraviolet fluorescence. Prior coursework in physics, visual arts, or art history is not required.

ArtHist 397R: Internships
Hands-on experience introduces students to a variety of conservation activities, including documentation, re-housing, cleaning, repair, and materials identification. ArtHist 387 "Issues in the Conservation of Art and Cultural Property" is generally considered a pre-requisite.
Permission from the supervising conservator is required for enrollment.

Emory Public Art ConservationArtHist 397R/ ArtVis 398R: Condition Survey of Public Art on Campus
Student interns work with Carlos Museum conservators to complete condition surveys for Emory's public sculpture, located on the grounds and in campus buildings. Written (check-list) and photographic documentation of individual sculptures are prepared to record surface and structural conditions, noting damage, deterioration, instabiltiy, etc. Recommendations for maintenance and intervention are based upon the survey results, and these priorities will be presented to the University Public Art Committee. Minor treatment steps are undertaken during the survey to promote the safety and long-term preservation of the sculptures. The internship is especially relevant for students with interest in contemporary art, sculpture, public art, conservation, arts management, and related fields. Students may receive academic credit through the departments of Art History or Visual Arts.  The project can accommodate two interns.  

Podcast on public art conservation at Emory University: VIEW/DOWNLOAD

ENVS/ ArtHist 190: Freshman Seminar - Nature in Art & Art in Nature
This course will explore the varied intersections between art and natural sciences. We will discuss how artists and craftsmen incorporate and manipulate natural materials to create art. We will learn how natural phenomena and the environment effect the preservation and deterioration of art. We will also consider how ideas about the conservation of resources and protection of endangered species can apply to both nature and art. We will explore four thematic units: historical parallels between environmental studies and art conservation, earth materials, environments for preservation and destruction, resource management and protection. Class participation will include discussion of readings and case studies as well as laboratory exercises.

CHEM 365L: Analysis of Ancient Art
This course introduces a variety of instrumental methods through case studies drawn from the collections at the Michael C. Carlos Museum. Chromatography, spectroscopy, and x-ray techniques will be used. Students will participate in activities and laboratory exercises to address questions about material composition, evidence of use, and original appearance. Issues relating to sampling, data interpretation, and interdisciplinary collaboration will be discussed. This course is a collaborative effort between the Emory Chemistry Department and the Michael C. Carlos Museum.