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Conservator (Full-Time)

The Portland Art Museum and Northwest Film Center (referred to as Museum) invites applications for the position of Conservator. The Conservator is a team leader who will help grow the conservation program and hire/supervise temporary conservation professionals, such as grant-funded fellows and technicians and project based conservators in private practice. This role has been on pause due to the pandemic, as the Museum prioritized the visitor experience and fundraising. The successful candidate will need to be flexible, innovative, have an entrepreneurial spirit, and vision for the conservation program. The role is responsible for a broad range of activities including conservation assessment and treatment of collections, support for ambitious exhibition and loan programs, disaster planning and response, and environmental monitoring.

At the Museum, the Conservator will specialize in either painting, paper, or three-dimensional objects to help grow a conservation program, and lead conservation planning, programming, and implementation for the museum. Utilizing advanced knowledge of profession-wide principles and methods used in the preservation, restoration, and conservation of art, the conservator will work in collaboration with many departments to carry out conservation projects and ensure the safety of museum collections and loans. The Conservator will assume a vital role in institutional initiatives and research projects, and provide strategic and administrative leadership for the department.

Reporting to the Director of Collections & Exhibitions, the Conservator will work closely with the museum’s Curatorial and Collections teams, and collaborate with staff throughout the museum to ensure the smooth integration and timely completion of conservation and preservation activities. The Conservator will join the Museum at an exciting time, as it moves toward the construction of the new Rothko Pavilion. Included in Phase I of this impactful project is the total rebuild of the conservation studio, designed by Vinci Hamp Architects of Chicago. The Conservator will play a key role in ensuring collection safety during this project.

Essential Duties & Responsibilities

Collaborate with multiple departments to support the care and preservation of the Museum art collections and loans
Examine artefacts, both visually and using scientific tools such as x-rays, infrared photography, and microscopic analysis, to determine the extent and causes of deterioration
Monitor and record display and storage conditions in order to keep objects in a stable condition
Organize the logistics of long-term projects and collaborate with other conservators in person and by email
Support exhibitions and loans
Propose and estimate the costs of treatments to halt decay and reveal the true nature of objects. Keep full conservation records by writing up notes on the object's condition and any previous restoration work that has been done
Work out creative solutions to clean, support, and repair sensitive objects
Use a range of conservation instruments such as scalpels, cotton swabs, dental and carpentry tools, and solvents/adhesives
Recreate historically-accurate finishes, such as mixing traditional paints from scratch
Produce a visual record of the object for identification purposes and to illustrate its condition
Keep up to date with the latest conservation techniques and practices, through research and training
Develop and maintain appropriate professional conservation and preservation standards
Train and provide guidance for museum staff in object handling, preservation decision-making, and physical care workflow
Relevant research areas: North America

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