Project-based instruction plays an important role in the development of a well-rounded conservator as it allows students to develop technical abilities and collaborative skills in the workplace. To this end, the Conservation Center facilitates the design of practical training opportunities for students during the summer and in the fall and spring intersessions at archaeological excavations, museums, and historic houses such as Villa La Pietra, NYU’s campus in Florence, Italy.
For over 35 years, Conservation Center students have spent their summers working at Institute-sponsored excavations, such as those of Aphrodisias in Turkey, the Sanctuary of the Great Gods on Samothrace in Greece, Selinunte in Italy, and Abydos in Egypt. Students who participate at archaeological sites carry out treatment of newly excavated materials (including metals, ceramics, glass, wallpainting, mosaics, and stone) and of previously excavated and treated objects currently in storage or housed in on-site museums. They also consult with archaeologists and other specialists on handling and storage issues. Students are encouraged to think independently in designing and undertaking treatments, in order to gain experience in the application of techniques learned in the seminars to new and changing “real life” situations. In addition to treatment, students also have the opportunity to assess the success of past conservation treatments.
NYU students also serve as part of the conservation team at the Harvard University sponsored excavation at Sardis in Turkey. Students have the option to join excavations directed by other universities in their field of study as well. In recent years, students have participated at archaeological sites in Italy, Crete, Cyprus, China, Greece, and Tunisia.
Villa La Pietra
New York University’s Florentine campus, Villa La Pietra, is another wonderful locale for summer work opportunities. Bequeathed to the University in 1994 by Sir Harold Acton, the Villa houses an extensive and relatively undisturbed collection of early Italian paintings, textiles, sculpture, furniture, and porcelains. Because the Villa’s collection is so vast and comprises a wide variety of materials, there are literally endless possibilities for education and training. Conservation Center faculty, along with Villa consultants and local conservators, are responsible for the care of the collection. Student projects, lasting anywhere between one week and one month, focus on the treatment of artifacts, the survey of the collection, and providing on-going maintenance of the estate.
In addition to NYU-sponsored activities, students are able to choose among a host of exciting summer work opportunities at museums, historic houses, and conservation labs where they can reinforce and develop the skills they acquire in the classroom. Although it is not required, many students choose to spend part or all of their summer interning at a conservation establishment in the US or abroad. In recent summers, students have completed internships at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Norse Folk Museum in Oslo, Norway; the Bishop Museum in Honolulu, Hawaii; the Brooklyn Museum of Art; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Cologne; Victoria Hall Memorial, India; Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis, The Netherlands; the National Gallery, Dublin, Ireland; and at the Walter’s Art Gallery, Baltimore. Projects at historic houses such as the Merchant’s House Museum, New York; the Maria Mitchell House, Nantucket, Massachusetts; and the Dyckman Farmhouse Museum, New York have been undertaken.
Short Courses and Special Programs
Various short courses are held annually to supplement the curriculum.
Specialized Training in Archaeological Conservation: Preparation for Working on Site
The Center annually holds a week-long workshop at the end of the academic year, in advance of the summer field season, that emphasizes the application of sound conservation methodology under less-than-ideal conditions. Topics of discussion focus on technical, ethical and practical issues students will likely face in archaeological fieldwork. The workshop, made possible by the Hagop Kevorkian Fund, includes hands-on exercises, problem solving, and student presentations, in conjunction with directed readings and seminars. This workshop is open to students from the other graduate programs in conservation.
Workshop in the Techniques of Paintings Examination
On occasion, the Center holds a week-long workshop in the techniques of paintings examination for conservation and art history students/faculty, as well as invited guests from area museums. Recent topics have included cross sections analysis and pigment identification with Dr. Ashok Roy of the National Gallery London and infrared reflectography with Dr. Molly Faires from Indiana University and the University of Groningen (The Netherlands). The format allows for collaboration between art historians and conservators and takes both an interdisciplinary and hands-on approach to the material.