Conservation Center: Program Overview
Regardless of future specialization, all students enrolled in the conservation program follow a mandatory two-year cycle of core courses specifically designed to introduce the fundamentals of materials science, conservation theory, analytical techniques, and preventive care. The core curriculum courses are designed to complement one another and include lectures as well as laboratory instruction. The first year of conservation coursework introduces students to an understanding of materials and technology, with a heavy emphasis on direct observation.
Core curriculum courses include:
Technology and Structure of Works of Art I and II
Materials Science of Art and Archaeology I and II
Principles of Conservation
Instrumental Analysis I and II
In the second year, students conclude the core cycle and, having decided on their specialization the first year, begin training in their chosen area of conservation study. Formal courses in each specialization, as well as conservation-specific science topics, are offered at the Conservation Center and at museums and conservation labs in New York City. Given the wealth of resources available to them—in the form of people, collections, and institutions—students can also pursue independent research projects in areas of particular interest to them at museums or private laboratories in and around the city.
The emphasis placed on art history within the curriculum is an indication of the importance we attach to providing students with social, historical, and theoretical contexts for the objects they will treat. Students devote a significant amount of time to becoming familiar with the literature in several areas of art history, writing clear and scholarly prose, preparing and delivering seminar presentations, and completing a Master’s Thesis in art history, of publishable quality. Students must also successfully pass a language translation exam within their first two years of study, in the language of their choosing, French, German or Italian.
During the third year, students continue upper-level conservation treatment coursework in their area of concentration and complete any remaining requirements for the MA degree in art history, including the completion of the Master’s Thesis. Simultaneously, they work with their advisor and the Chairman to make arrangements for a fourth-year Internship.
The fourth and final year is spent completing a nine-month Internship in a conservation establishment in the United States or abroad that is selected to provide the best possible training in the student’s area of concentration.
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