Becoming a Conservator: A recap of the Smithsonian American Art Museum/ Lunder Conservation Center

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When you are considering a career in museums there are many avenues one may take. If you like to teach-be an educator or work in education. You are good at fundraisers- development or marketing may be a good fit. Love science and art/objects- conservation is for you! Thanks to the dedication of conservators our priceless museum collections can stay as beautiful as the day of their creation.

Today we met with Abigail Choudhury who is the Program Coordinator at the Lunder Conservation Center inside the Smithsonian American Art Museum. During our tour of the center she noted that a conservator must have as much chemistry background as a pre-med student and that typically one applies to advance level conservation programs two to three times before getting accepted. Following graduation it may take as long as ten years to land a full time job in the field of conservation. That is incredible to me! Ten years?!

Yet, this made me pause and think about my journey as a museum professional. Those who work in museums do it for the love of their work- not for the pay or notoriety. If you have an honest love for something, what is the problem of working toward the best you possible (as in applying to programs and doing fellowships/internships for ten years). The path may not always be easy nor linear, but in my opinion, if you love the museum field, it is worth it the dedication.

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(Stained glass rotunda in museum)

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