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Kaitlyn Cannizzo (X’23) carefully dusts the interior pages of a historic book in ARTC495, Senior Capstone in Art Conservation. (Image: Madeline Hagerman, University of Delaware)
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There are 4 full-time conservation faculty members on-site at the University of Delaware. Additionally,14 affiliated art conservation faculty members, associated primarily with the graduate program, often provide internships and courses for undergraduate students. Professional conservators are your most important mentors to prepare you for the competitive nature of art conservation graduate programs. They help you connect the dots between art, material culture, and science. Professional conservation faculty are here to help you network within the field and provide hands-on learning experiences. Undergraduates at UD have an average of 6 courses with professional conservators throughout the course of their studies. Our program is unique in providing this level of mentoring and personalized learning.
Because US conservation graduate programs have prerequisites, be sure that the undergraduate program you select provides all of these. For example, entry into the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation currently requires:
The UD undergraduate curriculum provides all these courses and more!
UD offers several in-house conservation treatment courses each semester. Additionally, students receive help finding external internships. UD's winter session affords a great opportunity to study abroad or hold an outside internship. Our students have interned in many institutions across the United States and around the world, including at Winterthur Museum, with Roberto Nardi (Centro di Conservazione Archeologica) on Roman mosaics in Italy, and with Dr. Caitlin O'Grady (University College London) at Kaymakçı Archaeological Project, an archaeological site in Turkey, to name a few.
Conservation is by nature an interdisciplinary field. At UD we encourage art conservation students to pursue minors or double majors, often in art history, anthropology, or chemistry, and select from a variety of minors too. This provides students breadth, giving them the opportunity to explore related interests while combining technical conservation with soft skills, maximizing the time they spend at UD.
Examples of minors commonly chosen by art conservation undergraduates include:
Africana studies, anthropology, art history, Asian studies, chemistry, fashion history, fine art, global studies, history, the Horn Program in Entrepreneurship, interactive media, Islamic studies, languages, Latin American studies, material culture studies, materials science, museum studies, public policy, and wildlife conservation.
Art Conservation training takes a village! At UD we have the most well-developed village—after all we have been training pre-program art conservation students since 1971!
The UD undergraduate program is fully run and taught by art conservators. Our faculty represent a range of specialties within the field: objects, paintings, photography, preventive, and conservation science. Our conservation courses will ground you in the principles of preventive conservation and foster the ethical understanding and hand skills necessary to become a successful professional conservator.
Our majors usually come into the major and stick with it. However, students decide that their interests lie in a different field.
About 45-50% of our students go on to pursue careers and graduate training in the museum field. Because the major is so interdisciplinary, it can be applied to many different other careers. Some students discover that they are better suited towards or interested in becoming archivists, librarians, art historians, historians, anthropologists, conservation scientists, registrars, collections managers, researchers, historic preservationists, etc
The undergraduate art conservation degree alone does not qualify someone to be an art conservator. The terminal degree in the art conservation profession is a masters. After graduation, the majority of students either go directly to graduate school or pursue internships to prepare for graduate studies.
Some students are more suited to chemistry than others—it really depends on the student. Interestingly, sometimes art students actually do better in organic chemistry than in general chemistry because of the spatial relationships that are studied. Organic chemistry is challenging and requires your full attention and effort. The University and the Art Conservation Club have study groups and a variety of tutoring resources on campus.