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Art Restoration: Education and Training Program Information

Art restoration involves careful reconstruction of damaged or deteriorated pieces of art, with the aim of bringing them closer to their original states. While the process of restoration is different from conservation, restoration is considered part of conservation work. A training program in art conservation or preservation will usually cover art restoration techniques.

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Education

Degree Options

To become an art restorer or conservator, an individual typically first earns a bachelor's degree in a related field, such as art history, studio art, anthropology, archaeology or chemistry. Since art restoration is a highly specialized field, aspiring art restorers may benefit from taking on relevant internships and jobs to supplement undergraduate study. Very few schools in the United States offer a specific bachelor's degree program in conservation studies; however, those that do usually provide field work and internship opportunities as part of the program. These programs prepare students to apply for graduate school in conservation studies.

A limited number of art conservation graduate programs exist in the United States. These programs generally offer a master's or doctoral degree program through the departments of art, history or other disciplines. While a graduate program offers the most comprehensive training in art conservation, certificate programs are also available.

Curriculum

Course topics specific to art restoration include the restoration of books, building restoration in a particular city, masonry restoration, window restoration and restoring historic wooden structures. Students can expect to take classes on general conservation techniques and theory and may be able to specialize in specific materials or art forms, such as photography or textiles.

Training

Graduate programs in art conservation typically require some combination of fieldwork and internships with relevant organizations. While an art restorer most commonly works in a museum, opportunities are also available at libraries, universities and large laboratories or with private contractors.

Additional career training is available in the form of workshops, refresher courses or more highly specialized study in art restoration techniques or materials. Art restoration duties may be included within a another job title's tasks, such as a museum curator's; therefore, it can be helpful to enroll in general museum studies courses on topics such as preservation theory and art collection maintenance. Training is available through organizations related to museum studies or summer field schools.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

A slower-than-average 7% growth in museum technician and conservator employment is expected over the 2010-2020 decade, reported the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). The May 2012 median wage for these workers was $38,220, according to the same agency.

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