Preservation: Conservation Training

Become a Conservator

Become a Conservator

The Grenada National Archives hopes with the new Library facilities being built within the University of the West Indies Grenada Campus in 2013, that we shall be able to realise a long awaited dream of to become renowned as a foremost forerunner in the field of Document Preservation and Conservation. We hope to be able to offer courses at the new campus and train anyone from around the world in this exiting and developing field.

Apprenticeships and Internships

Elsewhere, before the establishment of graduate degree programs in conservation, apprenticeships were the primary method of training, and apprenticeships and internships continue to be an excellent source of education and training. Today, graduate education has become the more recognized route into the profession.  A traditional apprenticeship refers to an in-depth, long-term training period.  A student may elect to pursue a traditional apprenticeship or series of apprenticeships as an alternative to a graduate program.  This approach often takes longer than a degree program to acquire comparable education.  To acquire a complete conservation education, the student must supplement practical training with readings, course work, and research.

The term internship refers to workplace training at any level of a conservator’s development. Introductory level internships, often referred to in the profession as pre-program internships, help prepare individuals for more advanced study.  Graduate internships are part of a degree program curriculum.

Graduate Programs

Graduate degree programs generally require two to four years of study.  For example, North American education programs in the conservation of cultural property offer either a master’s degree in conservation or historic preservation or a master’s degree in a related discipline along with a certificate or diploma in conservation.  These programs require four to six semesters in residence (or the equivalent) and may also require summer internships.  Many of these programs require a full-time, internship in the final year in which students work under the guidance of experienced conservators.

Many graduate programs, like the ones we hope to develop, require the fulfillment of academic prerequisites, including courses in chemistry, in the humanities (such as art history, anthropology, architecture, and archaeology), and in studio art. Potential candidates should contact the programs directly for details regarding prerequisites, application procedures, and program curriculum. In addition to required course work, graduate programs strongly encourage students to obtain some conservation experience, which can be gained through an undergraduate introductory internship or fieldwork. Appropriate experience may include conservation work in regional, institutional, or private conservation laboratories.

More Information on Getting Into a Graduate Conservation Training Program>>

Many programs also require a personal interview in which candidates are usually asked to present a portfolio of art and conservation project work that demonstrates manual dexterity and familiarity with techniques and materials.

A limited number of Ph.D. programs have also been established for advanced study in conservation to prepare conservators with an interest in pursuing research in conservation or fields related to conservation.

Study Abroad 

Degree programs, internships, and apprenticeships abroad offer excellent opportunities for students to explore a wider variety of education and training.  Students may expect to encounter somewhat different philosophies and procedures. ICON maintains listings of programs in the UK, and ICCROM maintains an international listing of programs worldwide.

Listings of programs in the United Kingdom>>

Listings of international listing of programs worldwide>>

Post Graduate Education and Training

Many conservators have cited post-graduate fellowships as a valuable experience in their professional development. Such fellowships allow intensive research and practice or exposure to diverse professional staff or significant collections.

Continued Professional Development

Due to rapid changes in each conservation specialty, practicing conservators must keep abreast of advances in technology and methodology.  Their knowledge and skills are expanded through reading publications, attending professional meetings, and enrollment in short-term workshops or courses. It is the responsibility of each conservator to take advantage of such opportunities and to contribute to them.

Undergraduate Prerequisites
Prerequisites for admission to graduate conservation programs include undergraduate coursework in science, the humanities (art history, anthropology, and archaeology), and studio art. Some schools consider previous working experience and gained expertise in conservation practice. Specific admission requirements differ and potential candidates are encouraged to contact the programs directly for details on prerequisites, application procedures, and program curriculum. With careful planning, an undergraduate curriculum can be tailored to satisfy the academic requirements of these graduate programs.

One full year each of general and organic chemistry with laboratory work is typically required. These courses should usually be freshman and sophomore level requirements for chemistry and biology majors. Supplemental studies recommended, but not always required, often include biology, biochemistry, geology, materials science, physics, and mathematics.

Broadbased coursework in art history, anthropology, and archaeology must cover various cultural traditions and historical periods. At least four to six courses are typically required. Sample subjects include:

African art
American art
Ancient civilizations
Art and crafts of Native South Americans
Art in the East and the West
Baroque art
Early Renaissance art
Greek and Roman art
History of architecture
History of textile design
Indian art
Introduction to art history
Introduction to ethnic arts
Introduction to prehistoric archaeology
Medieval art
19th-century art
Oceanic art
Technology and culture
20th-Century Art
Studio Art

Formal course work in drawing, painting, photography, and three-dimensional design (including, but not limited to, ceramics, metalworking, sculpture, and textile art) may be required. Upon application to a graduate conservation program, candidates are expected to present a portfolio demonstrating manual dexterity, knowledge of techniques, and an understanding and affinity for art materials.

Reading proficiency in one or two foreign languages may be required.

Additional Coursework
Courses in museum studies, drafting, and library science may also be recommended.

Professional Experience
In addition to coursework, candidates to graduate programs are strongly encouraged to have had some conservation experience. Internships, volunteer, apprenticeship, or paid work in regional, institutional, or private conservation laboratories is appropriate. Involvement in supervised collection care projects such as collection assessments, rehousing, and exhibition design, as well as examination and treatment of individual artifacts is encouraged. Above all, applicants are expected to be thoroughly acquainted with conservation as a career option and to have a fundamental knowledge of conservation philosophy, ethics, and basic working procedures.

Resources for professional development:

>FAIC Professional Development Opportunties>>

>AIC News Listings:  Courses, Conferences, and Seminars>>

>Conservation OnLine: Education and Training>>


Full-time and some part-time courses and programmes in the United Kingdom This is a list of the main or the longest established courses, but it does not claim to be comprehensive. To be admitted to one of these programmes you will need to demonstrate an enquiring and flexible mind, the ability to work with your hands, considerable patience, and enthusiasm for working with art or heritage items. Prior qualifications in science are generally required, and initial studies in related topics, preferably to A-Level, are generally an advantage if not a formal requirement.

To select a programme which best suits you:

  • Consider the material or object type about which you feel most inspired
  • Review the institutions’ programmes on their website on in the brochure
  • Speak to someone in that institution to discuss whether the programme might suit you.

Selection procedures are rigorous, usually including a practical test.

Material and discipline areas

Archaeology/Objects Furniture
Applied & Decorative Arts Preventive Conservation & Conservation Science
Books/Paper Textiles/Organics
Building/Crafts Stained Glass
Fine Art/Paintings


Training Details of most craft and building conservation training (plus many other shorter courses) can be found at:

Building Conservation Directory
COTAC (Conference on Training in Architectural Conservation)
Robert Gordon University

Details of International conservation training can be obtained at:

International Centre for the Study of the Preservation & Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM)
The American Institute for Conservation of Historic & Artistic Works
Canadian Association for Conservation
Conservation On-Line (CooL) (NB much of the UK data here is out-of-date)


Institute of Archaeology, University College London

Conservation for Archaeology and Museums MSc – Two years
Principles of Conservation MA -One year

Graduate Admissions
Institute of Archaeology
University College London
31-34 Gordon Square

Tel: 020 7679 7499
Fax: 020 7383 2572

Cardiff University

Conservation of Objects in Museums and Archaeology BSc – Three years
Professional Conservation MSc – One year
Conservation Practice MSc – Two years

Jane Henderson
Department of Archaeology and Conservation
School of History Archaeology and Religion
Cardiff University
Humanities Building
Colum Drive
CF10 3EU

Tel: 029 2087 5629
Fax: 029 2087 4929

Durham University

MA in the Conservation of Archaeological and Museum Objects

Postgraduate Admissions Secretary,
Dept of Archaeology,
Durham University,
South Road,
tel: 0191 334 1109 (Monday – Thursday)
fax: 0191 334 1101

University of Lincoln

Conservation & Restoration BA (HONS) – Three years full-time
Conservation of Historic Objects MA – One year full-time, 2 years part-time

Lincoln is now able to offer a Distance Learning package which combines flexibility, support and academic rigour. The programme can be accessed by those already working in conservation and not wanting to take a break in their paid employment,or for Continuing Professional Development.To be eligible for this route, you will need to have either a previous undergraduate qualification in Conservation or significant equivalent experience as a practitioner.Working as a distance learner, you are able to submit projects from your employment towards  the practical modules.

Conservation Studies Graduate Diploma – One year full-time, 2 years part-time

For enquiries
Telephone +44 (0)1522 837171
Online enquiry 

Conservation and Restoration
School of Art and Design
University of Lincoln
Brayford Pool

Applied & Decorative Arts 

West Dean College

Diplomas & Professional Development Courses

Books and Library Materials
Building Conservation Masterclasses
Buildings, Interiors & Sites
Ceramics & Related Materials
Furniture and Related Objects
Professional Conservators in Practice

Postgraduate Degree

MA Conservation Studies

The Academic Office
West Dean College,
West Dean
West Sussex
PO18 0QZ

Diploma/MA enquiries Tel: +44 (0) 1243 818 208
Professional Development enquiries Tel: +44 (0) 1243 818 219

London Metropolitan University

Undergraduate courses – BSc Restoration & Conservation (inc decorative surfaces, wood & metal)
Postgraduate course – MA Conservation (decorative surfaces)

Alex Schoulavloff
Admissions Tutor Conservation,
Sir John Cass Department of Art Media & Design
41-47 Commercial Road
London, E1 1LA

Tel: +44(0) 207 320 2825
Fax: +44(0) 207 320 1830

City & Guilds of London Art School

Conservation Studies BA – Three years
Postgraduate Diploma: Conservation Studies 2 years
Postgraduate Diploma: Comparative Studies in Conservation Cleaning, techniques in relation to laser cleaning

For all courses above see the City & Guilds website

The School Office
City & Guilds of London Art School
124 Kennington Park Road
London SE11 4DJ

Tel: +44(0) 20 7735 2306
Fax: +44(0) 20 7582 5361


Royal College of Art and Victoria & Albert Museum

Note: This course has unfortunately now closed



Camberwell College of Arts, University of the Arts London

Conservation MA – 1 year full time, 2 years part time
Conservation MA (2 year) – New 2 year full time course starting in October 2011

Camberwell College of Arts
Peckham Road

Tel: +44(0) 20 7514 6302

West Dean College

Books and Library Materials

The Academic Office
West Dean College,
West Dean
West Sussex
PO18 0QZ

Enquiries: Tel: +44 (0) 1243 818 208 or 811 301



Fine Art/Paintings

Northumbria University

Conservation of Fine Art MA – Two years full time (study easel paintings or works of art on paper)

Ayesha Ballinger (Course Secretary)
MA Conservation of Fine Art
Northumbria University
Burt Hall
Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 8ST

Tel: +44(0) 191 227 3250
Fax: +44(0) 191 227 3250

Hamilton Kerr Institute, University of Cambridge

Conservation of Easel Paintings PgDip – Three years full time

The Administrator
Hamilton Kerr Institute
CB22 4NE

Tel: +44(0) 1223 832 040
Fax: +44(0) 1223 837 595

Courtauld Institute of Arts, University of London

Conservation of Easel Paintings PgDip – Three years full time
Conservation of Wall Paintings MA – Three years full time

For PgDip enquiries:

Courtauld Institute of Arts Department of Conservation & Technology
Somerset House
London WC2R 0RN

Tel: +44(0) 20 7848 2191
Fax: +44(0) 20 7848 2878

For MA enquiries:

Conservation of Wall Painting Department
Courtauld Institute of Arts
Somerset House

Tel: +44(0) 20 7848 2848
Fax: +44(0) 20 7848 2878


Bucks New University

Furniture Conservation, Restoration & Decorative Arts BA (Hons) – Three years full time
Conservation of Furniture & Decorative Arts MA – One year full time, two years part time

Campbell Norman-Smith
Faculty of Design, Media & Management
Bucks New University
Queen Alexandra Road
High Wycombe,
HP11 2JZ

Tel: 0800 0565 660
Fax: +44(0) 1494 461 392

Rycotewood Furniture Centre

Level 3 Certificate in Making & Repairing Handcrafted Furniture City & Guilds Certificate – 2 years (one day per week)

Rycotewood Furniture Centre
Oxford & Cherwell Valley College
Oxpens Road

Tel: +44(0) 1865 551 557
Fax: +44(0) 1865 551 369

London Metropolitan University

Undergraduate courses – FDA or BA Furniture Restoration

Alex Schoulavloff
Admissions Tutor Conservation,
Sir John Cass Department of Art Media & Design
41-47 Commercial Road
London, E1 1LA

Tel: +44(0) 207 320 2825
Fax: +44(0) 207 320 1830

See Applied & Decorative Surfaces for more courses.

West Dean College

Furniture and Related Objects

The Academic Office
West Dean College,
West Dean
West Sussex
PO18 0QZ

Enquiries: Tel: +44 (0) 1243 818 208 or 811 301

Preventive Conservation & Conservation Science

Cardiff University

Care of Collections MSc – One year (part time routes available)

Jane Henderson
Department of Archaeology and Conservation
School of History Archaeology and Religion
Cardiff University
Humanities Building
Colum Drive
CF10 3EU

Tel: 029 2087 5629
Fax: 029 2087 4929

University of Lincoln

Forensic Conservation (Heritage Science) MSc – 1 year full time

Enquiry Centre
University of Lincoln
Brayford Pool
Lincoln LN6 7TS
Tel: +44(0) 1522 882 000
Fax: +44(0) 1522 886 041
Online Enquiry

Northumbria University

Preventive Conservation MA – 1 year full time (on campus or distance learning), 2 years part time distance learning

Jean Brown – Programme Leader Conservation
Burt Hall
University Newcastle upon Tyne

Tel/ Fax: +44(0) 191 227 3250

Stained Glass

The University of York

MA in Stained Glass Conservation and Heritage Management

History of Art Department
Vanbrugh College
University of York
York YO10 5DD

Tel: +44 (01904) 432978
Fax: +44 (01904) 433427


University of Glasgow

Textile Conservation MPhil – 2 years full time

Frances Lennard – Programme Convenor
Centre for Textile Conservation and Technical Art History
University of Glasgow
8 University Gardens
Glasgow G12 8QH

Tel: +44(0) 141 330 7607/4097
Fax: +44(0) 141 330 3513


History of Art at the University of Glasgow also offers a one-year programme in MLitt Dress and Textile Histories.   Contact


Conservation Training Programs – US and Canada

United States

Buffalo State College
Art Conservation Department
1300 Elmwood Avenue
Rockwell Hall 230
Buffalo, NY 14222-1095
ph 716.878.5025
fx 716.878.5039
University of Arizona
Heritage Conservation Science
Materials Science and Engineering
Mines Building, P.O. Box 210012
The University of Arizona
Tucson, AZ 85721-0012
ph 520.621.6070
fx 520.621.8059
Offers: Graduate Degree Offers: Graduate Degree
  Visit their website>>

  Visit their website>>

Columbia University
Historic Preservation Program
Graduate School of Architecture
Planning and Preservation
400 Avery Hall
1172 Amsterdam Avenue
New York, New York 10027
ph 212.854.3518
University of California Los Angeles/
Getty Conservation Program

Archaeological and Ethnographic Conservation
Cotsen Institute of Archaeology
308 Charles E. Young Dr. North
A210 Fowler Building/Box 951510
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1510
ph 310.825.9407
fx 310.206.472
Offers: Graduate Degree Offers: Graduate Degree
Visit their website>>

Visit their website>>

Getty Foundation
Getty Graduate Internship Program
1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 800
Los Angeles, CA 90049-1685
ph 310.440.7320
fx 310.440.7703
University of Pennsylvania
Graduate Program in Historic Preservation
210 South 34th Street
115 Meyerson Hall
Philadelphia PA 19104-6311
ph 215.898. 3169
fx 215.573.6326
Offers: Graduate Internships Offers: Graduate Degree
Visit their website>>

Visit their website>>

Harvard University
Straus Center for Conservation
Harvard University Art Museums
32 Quincy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138-3383
ph 617.495.2392
fx 617.495.0322
Johns Hopkins University
Dept. of Materials Science & Engineering
Room 102, Maryland Hall
Baltimore, MD 21218
ph 410.516.8145
fx 410.516.5293
Offers: Graduate Internships Offers: Graduate Degree
Visit their website>>

Visit their website>>

University of Texas at Austin
Historic Preservation
School of Architecture
1 University Station B7500
Austin, TX 78712
ph 512.471.3792
fx 512.471.0716
New York University IFA
Art Conservation
The Stephen Chan House
14 East 78th Street
New York, NY 10075
ph 212.992.5848/47
fx 212.992.5851
Offers: Graduate Degree Offers: Graduate Degree
Visit their website>>

Visit their website>>

Winterthur/University of Delawaree
The Department of Art Conservation
303 Old College
University of Delaware
Newark, DE 19716-2515
ph 302.831.3489
fx 302.831.4330
Museum Conservation Institute

Conservation Research and Technical Studies
Museum Support Center
4210 Silver Hill Road
Suitland, Maryland 20746
ph 301.238.1240
fx 301.238.3709
Offers: Graduate/Undergraduate Degrees Offers: Graduate Internships/Fellowships
Visit their website>> Visit their website>>



Fleming College
Collections Conservation and Management/
Museum Management and Curatorship
Fleming College
599 Brealey Drive
Peterborough, ON
Canada K9J 7B1
ph 705.749.5530, ext 1368
fx 705.7495540
Queens University
Art Conservation
Department of Art
Ontario Hall, 67 University Ave.
Kingston, ON K7L 3N6
ph 613.533.6000, x77776
fx 613.533.6889
Offers: Undergraduate Degree Offers: Graduate Degree
Visit their website>> Visit their website>>

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