Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston and the Menil Collection

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Museum of Fine Arts Houston and the Menil Collection
Job location: 
Salary Start: 
US dollars per annum
Contract type: 
Application deadline: 
Monday, 23 May, 2022 - 17:00

Application Deadline: Application review will begin on May 23rd and will continue until the position is filled

The Museum of Fine Arts Houston is seeking a postdoctoral researcher in the field of conservation science. This is a term position for 2 years, with a tentative start date of September 1, 2022 Applicants must have recently (within the last 5 years) received their doctoral degree in a physical science or related field. Non-US citizens and those requiring visas are eligible for this position.

The Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow is responsible for participating in the scientific analysis and research aimed at understanding, preserving, and interpreting objects from the museums' diverse collection in collaboration with curators, conservators and other museum staff, and in accordance with the AIC code of ethics.

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, is renowned for the quality and breadth of its collection, which includes almost 72,000 objects and spans 6,000 years of achievement in the arts. The recently concluded Museum expansion transformed the museum into a significant international forum for exhibitions, scholarship, and art education.

They will participate in all activities in the science lab including project design and workflow, non-destructive and micro-destructive analysis, data interpretation, generation and dissemination of scientific reports and papers, and instrument acquisition and maintenance. They are responsible for working with the Andrew W. Mellon Research Scientist, curators, and conservators to determine if analysis is warranted, deciding upon the best means for obtaining the requested information, carrying out analysis, interpreting the results, disseminating the findings, and archiving all samples, data files, and reports. They will initiate individual research projects and contributes to collaborative efforts led by the Andrew W. Mellon Research Scientist, the Chairman, Department of Conservation (MFAH) and the Chief Conservator (Menil) that will further scientific and technical art historical research at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and the Menil Collection.

Requirements and Qualifications
A Ph.D. degree in chemistry, physics, materials science or similar specialty conferred within the last five years is required. They should have a demonstrated ability to work both independently and collaboratively and to engage in multi-disciplinary research. A demonstrated interest in organic and inorganic materials used in artworks and their degradation mechanisms is desired, as is a working cross-cultural knowledge of art, art history, artists' materials and techniques, and routine conservation practice. The successful candidate must be highly organized and have experience in spectroscopic and chromatographic techniques commonly used in the scientific analysis of cultural heritage objects (which can include SEM-EDS, XRF, FTIR, Raman spectroscopy, GC-MS etc.). Strong computer skills, with the ability to work with databases, word processing, and data processing are required, and advanced computational and statistical analysis skills are desirable. Excellent written and oral communication skills in English are essential, as is the ability to effectively disseminate and communicate scientific results to non-technical audiences.

Reasonable accommodations will be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions of this position.

Primary Responsibilities
• Conducts scientific examination, identification, and analysis of the museum objects' materials and fabrication techniques to contribute to the broader understanding of the works of art. Performs scientific research in consultation with the Andrew W. Mellon Research Scientist and conservators to support conservation treatment and preservation of the collection. As necessary performs scientific research on works being considered for acquisition.
• Maintains excellent and comprehensive records of research and analysis, manages and archives data, reports and samples. Enters all findings and written documentation in the science lab database. Ensures all samples, data files, images, reports, etc. related to the analyses of objects are properly labeled and stored.
• Communicates regularly with the Andrew W. Mellon Research Scientist to ensure workflow is manageable and on track and that the highest museum standards are being realized in the care and analysis of the collections.
• In consultation with the Andrew W. Mellon Research Scientist helps arrange for purchase of lab supplies and equipment within departmental budget. Helps to maintain extant scientific equipment.
• Communicates research results through written reports, journal publications, and conference presentations aimed at the scientific and art conservation communities.
• Fosters an understanding and assimilation of scientific information among conservators, curators, educators, other museum staff and the general public.
• Works with the Andrew W. Mellon Research Scientist and conservators to advise curators and other museum personnel on the maintenance of a proper environment for the optimum preservation of the museum's collection. This may include monitoring environmental conditions in museum galleries and storage areas, providing information on best materials, and recommending light levels, etc.
• As budget allows, pursues professional development opportunities by attending science workshops and meetings.
• Helps to keep lab organized and clean with all hazardous materials stored and labeled proper according to the Guidelines for Chemical Safety.
• Educates the public on the field of conservation and conservation science. Conducts classes and tours and gives lectures as required. Assist in-house Education and Learning and Interpretation Department with didactics and audio tour contents.
• Answers questions and advises colleagues, scholars and outside callers as needed.

Other Responsibilities:
• Upholds the professional standards of the field. Always acts in a manner that is consistent with the best interests of the museum, protecting and enhancing its reputation and standing within the community of museums.
• Adheres to the museum's code of ethics and avoids any real or perceived conflicts of interest.
• Shows respect for co-workers and visitors and an understanding of and appreciation for the diversity of the museum's staff, volunteers, and audiences.
• Aspires to excellence in all aspects of their work and serves as a model for others. Suggests methods for improvement as appropriate and maintains personal and professional growth.
• Maintain a safe and healthful environment according to OSHA guidelines in a proactive fashion. Reports hazards, concerns and problems to appropriate personnel.
• Confers with supervisor relating to personal needs that may conflict with professional responsibilities.
• Maintains confidentiality.
• Adheres to all MFAH protocols, procedures, rules, and policies.

Working Conditions and Physical Demands
The MFAH is an organization comprised of 600+ employees and 1,000+ docents and volunteers. The museum is more than 100 years old and ranks nationally among the top 10 art museums in exhibition space, memberships, endowments, and attendance, with 1M visitors annually. Our multifaceted institution includes multiple gallery buildings, a sculpture garden, two art schools, and two house museums for decorative arts. The encyclopedic collection numbers more than 65,000 works of art in a wide range of media.

To perform this job successfully, an individual must be able to perform each essential job duty satisfactorily. Essential duties may include the following:
• Occasionally lift and/or move up to 50 pounds in tandem with others.
• Manual dexterity is frequently required as duties call for handling artwork and operation of tools and equipment.
• Standing, walking, sitting, occasional climbing, bending, and kneeling.
• Specific vision abilities required by this job include close, color, and peripheral vision.
• While performing the duties of this job, the employee is occasionally exposed to fumes or airborne particles, toxic or caustic chemicals, and the risk of radiation. (PPE will be supplied.)

Equal Opportunities for All
At the MFAH, we believe that diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusivity are fundamental to our organization. We welcome all candidates whose experience has prepared them to contribute to our organization and to our pledge for workplace diversity, inclusion, and excellence.

Our commitment to our policy and practice of nondiscrimination represents more than good intentions. It provides for employment decisions that are made without regard to race, creed, color, age, gender, sexual orientation, religion, national origin, gender identity or expression, genetic information, disability, or veteran status, or any other protected characteristic as established by law or any other reason unrelated to your ability to join and contribute to our organization and support our mission to provide a museum experience for all.

The MFAH is equally committed to the full inclusion of all qualified individuals interested in employment with the organization. As part of this commitment, we want to ensure that persons with disabilities are provided reasonable accommodation needed to 1) participate in the job application or 2) interview process; 3) perform essential job functions; and/or 4) participate in the benefits and privileges of employment with the MFAH. If reasonable accommodation is needed, please contact the human resources department:

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, offers an excellent benefits package that includes:

Group health and dental insurance coverage is effective the first of the month following employment with the MFAH for this role. Several programs are available, including:
• Medical Insurance: Employee and dependent coverage through a choice of managed health care programs
• Dental Insurance: Employee and dependent coverage through two plan choices
• Vision Insurance: Employee and dependent coverage through a vision program
• Life Insurance & AD&D: Employee coverage at no cost to the employee
• Long Term Disability: Employee coverage at no cost to the employee

The MFAH provides a generous schedule for time off under the following benefit categories:
• Paid Time Off - Used for absences from work such as vacation, illness, and personal reasons. Hours are accrued biweekly, based on employment status, length of service, and hours worked
• Reserve Time Off - Used for extended illnesses. Employees accrue up to 6 days per year, up to a maximum of 120 days
• Holidays - ten paid holidays per year
• Volunteer Time Off - The MFAH supports activities that enhance and serve the communities in which we live and work. Eligible staff members are eligible to receive up to 40 hours of paid time off annually to give back and volunteer.

Employees may contribute to the MFAH Retirement Savings Plan. Eligible employees contributing to the plan may receive up to a 5% matching contribution from the MFAH after one year of service.

Other Benefits
• MFAH Membership - Employees receive a free Family-level membership
• Discounts - Employees receive discounts on purchases at the Museum shop and café and the Glassell School of Art

The salary is $50,000 per year, which includes benefits eligibility. Limited funds for research related travel are available. Funds to support relocation to Houston may also be available.

Application Procedure
Qualified applicants should apply online, which will be the most effective way to ensure consideration. Applications or letters of interest sent via mail, fax, or direct email to a staff member will not ensure consideration.

Visit the MFAH Careers page at -
"Click" on All current employment opportunities
Scroll through the listings to find this role.

How to Apply:
A complete application packet will include:
• A current curriculum vitae
• A letter of application that includes:
o An explanation of how the candidate meets the qualifications listed above.
o A summary of the applicant's research interests and intent. It is advised that applicants familiarize themselves with the institutions' collections to in order to inform their response to this prompt.
• A list of three references with contact information. (Letters of recommendation are not required at this time.)

For additional information, please contact Dr. Corina E. Rogge, the Andrew W. Mellon Research Scientist at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston and the Menil Collection,