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Subject: Qualifications for conservation technicians

Qualifications for conservation technicians

From: Jack C. Thompson <tcl>
Date: Friday, March 28, 2003
Deborah Rohan <deborah.rohan [at] cambridgeshire__gov__uk> writes

>I would like to ask conservators in other establishments and
>countries what they would look for in a conservation technician, and
>how they would assess the necessary skills. What work should a
>technician know how to do? What judgements should he be expected to
>make? How would a technician's salary compare with a sole or senior
>conservator's?

During the late 1980's I suggested a conservation technician
training program to one of the directors of a local community
college (2 year program, leading to an associates degree) and he was
very interested, but there was no funding.

My reason for making this proposal is that most of the work which a
conservator actually executes at the bench does not require much in
the way of theory, chemistry, art history, etc.

Good manual skills, good color vision and eyesight, and intuition
are among the necessary skill set.

My belief is that conservation training would best serve the
artifacts we work upon if it were to be broken down into three
aspects:

    Bench work, after technical education, including a basic
    grounding in the nature and development of materials used in the
    creation of art and artifacts, and apprenticeship at
    institutions or private labs, leading to an associate degree as
    a conservation technician.

    Lab management, following additional education, covering theory,
    chemistry, art history, lab design (to include sources of
    supply, budgeting, personnel management,) etc. leading to a
    bachelor degree as a conservator.

    Graduate programs should be left to those who can best make use
    of university chemistry and physics labs and library facilities
    to conduct research of value to the profession in advancing the
    care of artifacts.

A conservation technician's salary should be no less than 2/3rds of
a supervising conservator's salary.

Thompson Conservation Lab.
7549 N. Fenwick
Portland, Oregon  97217
USA
503-735-3942  (phone/fax)


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