Research Scientist

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National Gallery of Ireland
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Friday, 7 October, 2022 - 23:45

The National Gallery of Ireland (‘Gallery’) is Ireland’s major national cultural institution devoted to the collection and care of fine art. Comprising some 16,000 paintings, drawings, watercolours, miniatures, prints, sculpture and decorative arts, the institution's extensive holdings include masterpieces by many of the most celebrated figures in the history of western European art. In addition, the Gallery houses the most representative collection of historic Irish art. Funded mainly by the State, the Gallery employs more than 180 staff and provides free access to the public 361 days a year. In 2021, the Gallery was a finalist in two categories of the Digital Media Awards - Best in Government & Not for Profit for ‘National Gallery at Home’, and Best Podcast.

Conservation Department

Established in 1964, the Conservation Department is responsible for ensuring that the Gallery’s collections are properly cared for. This involves researching and assessing the collections, advising the Curatorial department and undertaking routine activities connected with Care of Collection policies and procedures for exhibitions, acquisitions and loans. The Conservation Department is constantly developing strategies to implement preventive treatments, including environmental monitoring to ensure risks to the long-term care of the collection are minimised. Promoting and developing research and conservation projects through interdisciplinary cooperation with conservation institutes and museums both in Ireland and internationally, as well as sharing skills and developing innovative conservation practices, processes and services, are some of the main strategic strands of the work of the Conservation Department.

Our Conservation Department has a proven history of delivering collaborative research projects with external stakeholders, museums and conservation institutes. Recent examples include our 2019 -2020 conservation project of our painting The Visit of the Queen Sheba to King Solomon by Lavinia Fontana, in collaboration with the Centre for Microscopy, Trinity College Dublin, funded by Bank of America. We are about to start a new project that is part of the Getty Canvas Initiative, which focuses on structural treatments and research on works by Giovanni Francesco Barbieri (Guercino) and Juan Gris.

The Gallery Conservation department includes a staff of six accredited painting and paper conservators, led by the Gallery’s Head of Conservation, Simone Mancini. It remains the only major conservation centre in the country and advises various public and independent cultural institutions.

Research Scientist post

The Gallery wishes to recruit a Research Scientist on a 3 year fixed term contract. The overall purpose of this post is to develop and lead science in conservation at the Gallery. The establishment of this position is a critical step towards creating a Science Research Hub and working towards the establishment of a research lab and eventually our Centre of Excellence, to be realised as part of the final phase of our Master Development Plan.

This is an exciting opportunity for an individual with a science background to research, establish and develop the conservation science function at the Gallery. As this is a new direction for the Conservation Department, the Conservation Scientist will in the first instance research best practice and establish what equipment is required to get this function up and running.

The Research Scientist will work with and provide guidance and advice to colleagues in and outside the organisation and will develop a strong research programme, pursuing innovative research in analytic techniques and treatment methodologies. The scientific programme should be predicated on the care and understanding of the Gallery’s collection, this includes technical analysis, the development of improved processes and materials for conservation treatment, alongside collection care and preventive conservation programmes.

The Research Scientist will introduce and develop expertise in the area of science for conservation and care of collection. The post holder will collaborate with curators and conservators throughout the Gallery to investigate the material aspects of works of art in collection, and work with technicians, photographers, registrars and other behind-the-scenes staff to guarantee the long-term safety of the collection. The post holder will have the opportunity to attend and contribute to conferences at home and abroad and visit colleagues in sister/partner institutions in order to exchange ideas and build strong international relationships.

Reporting to the Head of Conservation, the Research Scientist will:

  • Work closely with the Head of Conservation on the development of strategic priorities for conservation science at the Gallery.
  • Work with the Conservation team and colleagues across the Gallery in all areas that pertain to conservation science.
  • Oversee and conduct scientific research and analysis, including supporting analytical studies within the Conservation department.
  • Manage all aspects of the conservation science laboratory from establishing and developing the new lab to purchasing scientific equipment, day to day work and budgeting.
  • Mentor and nurture fellows and interns if required.
  • Develop research initiatives at local, regional and international levels.
  • Convey scientific and technical information to the conservation and scientific communities, and disseminate scientific research to non-technical audiences.
  • Write articles for publication, give professional talks and contribute to the Gallery’s program in audience engagement.
  • Be responsible for Health and Safety guidelines and ensuring Health and Safety compliance is integral to the culture of all research activities.
  • Any other duties assigned by the line manager (as required).
  • Requirements

    The successful candidate will have:

  • PhD in chemistry, physical science, or material science educational background.
  • Scientific research experience, ideally in a gallery/museum setting.
  • Strong scientific publication record Strong laboratory experience with the range of analytical instrumentation applied to the identification, characterisation and imaging of works of art together with experience in statistical analysis of data.
  • Demonstrated commitment to, and knowledge of issues related to the conservation of cultural heritage.
  • A firm understanding of the conservation issues related to fine art, in particular historic and modern paintings and works on paper.
  • Proven ability to conduct joint research projects in collaboration with conservators, curators and external partners.
  • An analytical and logical reasoning process that can work through a complex topic or problem to arrive at an outcome.
  • An ability to manage and deliver projects on time and within budget.
  • A proven ability to manage relationships with key internal and external stakeholders, be a team player and have a willingness to learn and collaborate with others.
  • An interest in supporting sustainable practice both within conservation and across all aspects of the Gallery Excellent written and verbal communication skills.
  • Experience supervising people is desirable.
  • Experience in collection care and preventive conservation is desirable.
  • Note: This job description is a guide to broad areas of responsibility and accountability and should not be regarded as a comprehensive listing. The job description may be subject to review in the view of new structures and / or the changing needs of the Gallery. All employees are required to be compliant with NGI screening, security and Garda vetting procedures.


    Salary is €50,000 per annum (fixed rate).


    Fixed term contract - 3 years, Full time onsite, 5 days a week - 35 hours per week (net of breaks).

    Closing date for receipt of applications:

    7 October 2022
    Interviews will be held in October 2022

    How to apply:

    1. Please upload a cover letter and curriculum vitae.
    2. Candidates are required to submit two detailed examples (max 2000 words in total) in PDF format of scientific scholarly research.

    Candidates should note that panels may be formed from which future positions may be filled.

    At the Gallery, we value equity, diversity and Inclusion we recognise the benefits it can bring to our staff and our visitors interactions. We celebrate difference and want our people to be representative of all communities. If you require reasonable accommodation for any part of the application process, please do not hesitate to let us know.

    The National Gallery of Ireland is an equal opportunities employer.

    Link to application: