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Assistant Conservator, Photography
Art Institute of Chicago

The Art Institute of Chicago shares its singular collections with our city and the world. We collect, care for, and interpret works of art across time, cultures, geographies, and identities, centering the vision of artists and makers. We recognize that all art is made in a particular context, demanding continual, dynamic reconsideration in the present. We are a place of gathering; we foster the exchange of ideas and inspire an expansive, inclusive understanding of human creativity.  
The Assistant Conservator, with varying degrees of supervision, carries out examination, research and treatment of objects in the permanent collection, providing ongoing care to photographs of all provenance and times. Assists with preparation, installation, and documentation of gallery rotations, exhibitions and loans, and serves as a courier with artwork as needed. Assists with monitoring temperature, relative humidity, light exposure, and air quality in the galleries, exhibitions, the laboratory, and storage. Collaborates in the planning and day-to-day workflow in the photography conservation department. Is encouraged to research and publish on the materials, methods of making, and on the preservation of the collection. Is committed to and actively engaged in fostering a diverse, inclusive, and equitable work environment.
  • With mentorship from the Director of Paper, Photography and Media Conservation, designs and carries out basic to advanced treatment strategies for in-house exhibitions, loans and on-going care for a large number of photographs in order to keep pace with an active exhibition, acquisition and publication program.
  • Examines objects for the purposes of research and for the assessment of condition. Conducts investigations, working with scientists to address questions about materials, processes, authenticity and alteration.
  • Responsible for detailed record keeping of all treatments and examinations performed on works of art, including the taking of digital photographs, detailed photomicrographs using the stereo microscope and the use of relevant image processing software.
  • With appropriate mentorship, performs evaluation and preparation of objects for simple cases of loans to other institutions.
  • With mentorship from the Director of Paper, Photography and Media Conservation, examines and writes in-depth reports and makes recommendations on objects being considered for purchase by the curatorial departments.
  • Manages the conservation requirements for exhibitions, including condition reporting and minor treatment, and ensuring that environmental requirements of lenders are met.
  • When appropriate, advises museum curators, technicians, art installers, and packers in the handling, exhibition, installation, and packing of works of art.
  • Responds to emergencies that occur in the galleries or storage areas.
  • Monitors temperature, humidity, and light levels to determine long-term trends in the galleries, storage areas, and in the laboratory.
  • Conducts research and lectures on artists’ technique and on methods and materials.
  • Supervises fellows and interns with other staff conservators.
  • 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.
  • Graduate of a recognized conservation training program or commensurate experience.
  • Minimum of 2 years of post-graduate experience preferred.
  • Proven expertise in the treatment and preservation of photographs.
  • Must have excellent verbal and written communication skills as demonstrated by a track record of publications and presentations.
  • Must be proficient at project prioritization and value collaboration.
Application should include a cover letter, CV, and the name of 3 references, all in one pdf file. To apply.
The Art Institute of Chicago is an equal opportunity, equal access employer fully committed to achieving a diverse and inclusive workplace.
We offer a competitive, comprehensive benefits package:
  • Generous paid time off
  • Paid holidays (up to 14 days)
  • Medical, dental, and vision insurance
  • Generous parental, caregiver, and medical leave benefits
  • Competitive retirement plan (up to 9% matching contribution)
  • Tuition remission and Tuition Exchange Program
  • Great employee discounts
  • Complimentary general admission to participating cultural institutions
The Art Institute of Chicago is an Equal Opportunity Employer that recruits, hires and promotes qualified individuals without regard to race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, national origin, ancestry, veteran status or citizenship. The Institute complies with federal and state disability laws and makes reasonable accommodations for applicants and employees with disabilities. If reasonable accommodation is needed to participate in the job application or interview process, please contact the Department of Human Resources at
This position is part of a bargaining unit represented by AFSCME Council 31
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