Associate Conservator, Textiles*

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Art Institute of Chicago
Job location: 
United States
Contract type: 
Application deadline: 
Saturday, 14 November, 2020 - 00:00

Position Summary

Reporting to the Director of Objects and Textiles Conservation, the Associate Conservator, Textiles, is involved in all aspects of the care, treatment, preservation, preparation, installation, and research of all textile objects in the museum’s collections. In consultation with the Director of Objects and Textiles Conservation, the Associate Conservator carries out conservation-related activities to support exhibitions, permanent collection rotations, and other special needs regarding shipping and receiving of permanent collection, new acquisitions, gifts, loans, imaging, technical examination, and researcher and class visits. Provides basic care for the collection including maintenance, proper storage, and monitoring environmental conditions in storage and exhibition. Collaborates in the planning, maintenance and day-to-day workflow of the textile conservation laboratory. Supervises fellows, interns and volunteers as needed; is actively engaged in fostering a diverse, inclusive, and equitable work environment.


Determines and documents an object’s condition. Prepares treatment proposals in consultation with the Director of Objects and Textiles Conservation. Executes conservation treatments and maintains full documentation of treatment. Supervises the execution of minor treatments by other textile conservation staff and outside consultants as needed.

Prepares full conservation records and structural analyses for textile objects, including microscopic examination of structure and materials analysis as well as the physical examination of the condition of objects. Maintains digital documentation and hard-copy conservation records.

Working with the Assistant Conservator, Preparation and Mounting, and the Conservation Technician, assists with all aspects of preparation, mounting, and installation of exhibitions, including examination, documentation, research and treatment of artworks.

Carries out examinations on textiles as they enter and leave the museum for loans, and prepares and shares related documentation.

With varying levels of supervision is responsible for review of works under consideration for purchase and preparation of relevant documentation.

Trains, and supervises, art handlers, photographers and other specialists in all aspects of their work with objects and equipment.

Assists with and oversees monitoring temperature, relative humidity and air quality in the galleries, exhibitions and storage. Advises on environmental standards for textiles in the permanent collection and for works that are proposed for loan.

Advises on and assists with gallery and storage maintenance, including regular and preventative care of textiles artworks.

Participates in daily activities including exhibition maintenance, lab maintenance and safety, ordering supplies in consultation with the Administrative Coordinator for Conservation and Science, and using/maintaining equipment.

Serves on committees and undertakes special projects and responsibilities as appointed by the Director of Objects and Textiles Conservation.

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.

Conducts research and publishes on textiles technique and on methods and materials.

Publishes results of research projects in Museum publications, social media, and journals aimed at both professional and general audiences.

Travels as a courier for artwork if needed.

Supervises fellows, interns, volunteers and visiting scholars as needed.

Supports the museum in its commitment to creating a diverse, inclusive, and equitable institution; treats colleagues and visitors fairly and respectfully, recognizing the value that diverse backgrounds and perspectives bring to our organization.


Master’s degree from a recognized conservation training program with a minimum of five years of post-graduate experience or equivalent training and experience. Proven expertise in the treatment and preservation of textiles. Must possess knowledge of sewing techniques, textile structures and garment construction. Must have excellent verbal and written communication skills as demonstrated by a track record of publications and presentations. Proficiency with project prioritization and demonstrated project management experience. Embraces the museum’s commitment to creating an inclusive and equitable institution.

* (Revised)

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The Art Institute of Chicago is an equal opportunity, equal access employer fully committed to achieving a diverse and inclusive workplace.