Assistant /Associate Paper Conservator, Asian Art

The Art Institute of Chicago - Chicago, IL3.9

Reporting to the Head of Paper Conservation, the successful candidate will provide ongoing care and conservation treatment to works of art on paper primarily in the collection of the Department of Asian Art. The conservator should have a working knowledge of the materials and techniques used in Asian manuscripts, Japanese prints, Tibetan thankas, hanging and hand scrolls, and Indian miniatures. The position also includes the opportunity of working on the collections housed in the Department of Prints & Drawings, Architecture & Design, and Modern and Contemporary Art. The conservator will collaborate in the planning and day-to-day workflow in the paper conservation department. Research and publication on technical and scientific aspects of the collections is encouraged.

1. Devise and carry out basic to advanced treatment strategies for in-house exhibitions, loans and on-going care for a large number of works on paper in order to keep pace with an active exhibition, acquisition and publications program. Initiates and develops new solutions to standard condition problems to produce marked aesthetic enhancements of works in the collection. Provides condition reports and initiates treatment proposals for works in the permanent collection, in collaboration and coordination with curators and staff conservators. Provides photo-documentation of all treatments performed, carries out beta-radiography and photomicrography as necessary.

2. Responsible for review of works considered for purchase, advising for or against acquisition based on condition. Such reviews include the preparation of written condition reports and scientific imaging. In the course of these reviews may initiate technical and scientific examinations to address questions of authenticity, to establish artists’ working methods and materials, and to determine the extent of visual alteration.

3. Examines artworks requested for loan and provides written assessments and documentation of the physical condition of the artwork. Provides recommendations for or against the loan and maintains communication with Curators, Registrars and Collection Managers to coordinate activities related to loans. Reviews works on loan to the Art Institute for special exhibitions. Travels as a courier for outgoing loans and, when necessary, oversees installations at borrowing institutions.

4. Keeps abreast of the newest technologies and seeks ways of applying them to the conservation of works on paper in general and to the Art Institute’s Asian collections in particular.

5. Performs other duties as requested by supervisor including supervising, training, or collaborating with other colleagues specializing in the conservation of Asian art, as well as hosting consultants specializing in scroll and screen remounting. In collaboration with Asian Art curators provides materials for exhibition cases that illustrate various art production processes.

6. Implements institutional standards for safe storage and installation in coordination and consultation with the technicians, preparators, installers, and registrars.

7. Monitors environmental standards, including temperature and humidity control, and safe light levels in coordination with Advantage engineers and in-house electricians.

8. Responsible for adding new information and maintaining the museum’s database (CITI) record fields that relate to conservation/condition, media description and location tracking.

9. Supervises fellows and interns with other staff conservators, advises and trains preparators as necessary to perform minor conservation treatments for works in the collection.

10. Corresponds with professionals with regard to research, answers inquiries of a technical nature, in-house and outside the institution. Answers public inquiries by phone and mail as necessary. Conducts studio tours and lectures. Responds to emergencies that occur in galleries or storage areas. Publishes results of research projects in Museum publications, social media, and journals aimed at both professional and general audiences.


Graduate of a recognized conservation training program or commensurate experience. Minimum of 3 years of post-graduate experience. Knowledge of and experience with the materials and techniques of Asian works on paper and related materials preferred.

Pay,Benefits, & Work Schedule

We offer a competitive, comprehensive benefits package:
5+ weeks of paid time off
Paid holidays (up to 14 days)
Medical, dental, and vision insurance
Competitive retirement plan (up to 9% matching contribution)
Tuition remission and Tuition Exchange Program
Great employee discounts
Complimentary general admission to participating cultural institutions
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