The curriculum of the first year serves to introduce the student to an overview of the conservation field and its varied specialties, the history of art and artifact technology, the essential physical and chemical properties of materials and mechanisms of deterioration, professional ethics, and the preventive care and conservation treatment of cultural property.
The courses are presented in the form of conservation science courses and specialty studies, including: furniture, library and archival materials, organic and inorganic objects, paintings, paper, photographs, preventive conservation, and textiles. Documentation and examination techniques are covered within each specialty area. A comprehensive examination at the end of the first year draws from materials presented during this time. By the end of the first year the student will select a specialty for the second year of study.
After completion of the first year, a student should demonstrate the following:
- General knowledge of current theories, principles, and practices of broad conservation specialties. Subject areas include: furniture, library and archival materials, organic and inorganic objects, paintings, paper, photographs, preventive conservation, and textiles
- Development of skills in critical analysis, professional judgment, problem solving, and the capability to assess materials, situations, and published information
- Basic understanding of the complex issues relating to preventive care. This includes appropriate environmental conditions for different materials; handling and maintenance procedures for storage; exhibition packing, transport, and use; integrated pest management; risk assessment; and emergency preparedness, response, and mitigation
- Familiarity with the fundamental physical and chemical properties of art and cultural materials and the causes and mechanisms of their deterioration
- A familiarity with and understanding of the need for and the meaning of the American Institute for Conservation (AIC) Code of Ethics and Guidelines for Practice and other ethical codes
- Ability to prepare written and photographic documentation of conservation work, including condition assessments and the framework for treatment proposals
- Knowledge and appreciation of the technological developments (materials, craft and techniques), aesthetic history of cultural property, and history of the profession of conservation
- Knowledge of issues and regulations relating to personal health and safety in the work place
- Familiarity with basic examination tools and documentation techniques such as ultraviolet and infrared examination, radiography, polarized light microscopy and cross-section microscopy