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Museum Technicians and Conservators Career

Career Description

Restore, maintain, or prepare objects in museum collections for storage, research, or exhibit. May work with specimens such as fossils, skeletal parts, or botanicals; or artifacts, textiles, or art. May identify and record objects or install and arrange them in exhibits. Includes book or document conservators.

What Job Titles Museum Technicians and Conservators Might Have

  • Conservation Technician
  • Conservator
  • Objects Conservator
  • Paintings Conservator

What Museum Technicians and Conservators Do

  • Clean objects, such as paper, textiles, wood, metal, glass, rock, pottery, and furniture, using cleansers, solvents, soap solutions, and polishes.
  • Determine whether objects need repair and choose the safest and most effective method of repair.
  • Install, arrange, assemble, and prepare artifacts for exhibition, ensuring the artifacts' safety, reporting their status and condition, and identifying and correcting any problems with the set up.
  • Direct and supervise curatorial, technical, and student staff in the handling, mounting, care, and storage of art objects.
  • Perform tests and examinations to establish storage and conservation requirements, policies, and procedures.
  • Prepare artifacts for storage and shipping.
  • Photograph objects for documentation.
  • Coordinate exhibit installations, assisting with design, constructing displays, dioramas, display cases, and models, and ensuring the availability of necessary materials.
  • Notify superior when restoration of artifacts requires outside experts.
  • Lead tours and teach educational courses to students and the general public.
  • Supervise and work with volunteers.
  • Specialize in particular materials or types of object, such as documents and books, paintings, decorative arts, textiles, metals, or architectural materials.
  • Repair, restore and reassemble artifacts, designing and fabricating missing or broken parts, to restore them to their original appearance and prevent deterioration.
  • Prepare reports on the operation of conservation laboratories, documenting the condition of artifacts, treatment options, and the methods of preservation and repair used.
  • Recommend preservation procedures, such as control of temperature and humidity, to curatorial and building staff.
  • Study object documentation or conduct standard chemical and physical tests to ascertain the object's age, composition, original appearance, need for treatment or restoration, and appropriate preservation method.
  • Classify and assign registration numbers to artifacts and supervise inventory control.
  • Estimate cost of restoration work.
  • Plan and conduct research to develop and improve methods of restoring and preserving specimens.
  • Preserve or direct preservation of objects, using plaster, resin, sealants, hardeners, and shellac.
  • Deliver artwork on courier trips.
  • Perform on-site field work which may involve interviewing people, inspecting and identifying artifacts, note-taking, viewing sites and collections, and repainting exhibition spaces.
  • Construct skeletal mounts of fossils, replicas of archaeological artifacts, or duplicate specimens, using a variety of materials and hand tools.

What Museum Technicians and Conservators Should Be Good At

  • Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Near Vision - The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
  • Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • Information Ordering - The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
  • Written Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
  • Inductive Reasoning - The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
  • Speech Clarity - The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.

What Museum Technicians and Conservators Should Be Interested In

  • Realistic - Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

What Museum Technicians and Conservators Need to Learn

  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Chemistry - Knowledge of the chemical composition, structure, and properties of substances and of the chemical processes and transformations that they undergo. This includes uses of chemicals and their interactions, danger signs, production techniques, and disposal methods.
  • Fine Arts - Knowledge of the theory and techniques required to compose, produce, and perform works of music, dance, visual arts, drama, and sculpture.
  • History and Archeology - Knowledge of historical events and their causes, indicators, and effects on civilizations and cultures.
  • Administration and Management - Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
  • Clerical - Knowledge of administrative and clerical procedures and systems such as word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and other office procedures and terminology.
  • Mechanical - Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
Median Salary: $40,040

This page includes information from O*NET OnLine by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration (USDOL/ETA). Used under the CC BY 4.0 license.