Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum (CHSDM) announces an opportunity to apply for the joint position of Head of Conservation/ Senior Objects Conservator in the Product Design and Decorative Arts (PDDA) department. As well as serving as Head of Conservation, the responsibilities of the position include carrying out and documenting the conservation and preservation treatment of the PDDA department’s collection of approximately 40,000 rare, important and valuable art objects in a variety of media, including glass, ceramic, plastics, metals, stone, lacquer, wood, ivory and other natural and synthetic materials found in both modern and historic objects.

Supervisory Responsibilities: As Head of Conservation, the incumbent supervises the operation of the Objects, Textile and Paper Conservation Laboratories of CHSDM, as well as supervising any contract conservators hired by the museum. Assigns work and research assignments to staff based upon institutional and departmental priorities determined in collaboration with the Curatorial Director and other staff.

Conservation Treatments: Serves as a Senior Objects Conservator who carries out conservation treatment on PDDA collection in support of loan and exhibition programs and the long-term preservation of the collection. Examines and conserves fragile, valuable, and rare works of art in the museum’s collection. Identifies treatment needs of objects through examination, surveys, and assessments. Develops treatment proposals recorded in the museum’s collection database, The Museum System (TMS), for objects with routine to complex conservation needs.

Exhibitions and Loans: Appoints consulting conservators from staff for each exhibition and serves as consulting conservator for applicable exhibitions in the museum. Attends exhibition planning meetings and advises on conservation issues both for loans and collection objects. Works with exhibition designers, architects, and lighting designers. Advises on materials, finishes, light levels and overall exhibition design. Supervises the implementation of conservation requirements for exhibitions and the monitoring and maintenance of those requirements.

Storage and Preservation Environment: Identifies housing and storage needs through examination, surveys, and assessments. Designs and supervises the upgrading of collection storage areas including storage equipment and storage techniques.

Collaboration: Collaborates closely with PDDA curators to establish preservation and treatment priorities and approaches; provides technical and material analyses as requested to support technical art history research; develops hybrid projects with curators.

Research and Training: Stays current with recent developments and research in the preservation field and in objects conservation. As time allows, conducts and publishes research on conservation issues that affect the preservation of the collection, its treatment, or its technical understanding. Researches new laboratory equipment as required.


Bachelor’s degree or higher in conservation with a specialization in applied and decorative arts.

Comprehensive experience in conservation treatments and procedures for a wide variety of objects in the full range of materials found in both modern and historic objects.
Knowledge of principles and methodologies requisite to supervise, train and develop conservators, contractors and interns in textile/paper/object conservation treatments, e.g., chemistry, material technology and mechanisms of deterioration, and art historical and technical understanding of works on paper, textiles and/or objects.
Knowledge of conservation and collection maintenance techniques and procedures to examine and house fragile/ deteriorated museum artifacts.
Experience performing material testing of contemporary archival materials for use in storage and exhibitions (Oddy test) and performing material identification through microscopy, XRF, and micro-chemical testing.
Ability to work in a diplomatic, collaborative, and timely nature in performing duties as a supervisor and senior conservator.
Ability to work evenings and weekends as needed.
Ability to work off-site at Newark, N.J. Storage Facility 30% of the year on average (transportation provided or through public transport to the site).

Competitive Salary – $82,304

TIAA-CREF (Defined Contributions – 12 percent)
Life Insurance (including Optional Life Insurance)
Voluntary Accidental Death and Dismemberment Insurance
Long Term Disability
Health Insurance (Blue Cross Blue Shield)
Dental (Delta Dental)
Vision (Vision Services)
Flexible Spending Accounts
Free Transit/Commuter Benefits (up to $3,060 paid per year)
Annual Leave (13 days)
Sick Leave (13 days)
Federal Holidays (10 days)
Family Friendly Leave
Family Friendly Workplace
Historic and landmark offices/library and garden (New York)
Design Library
Curatorial Talks and Tours (Cooper Hewitt)
92Y Fitness Center
Employee Assistance Program
Smithsonian Network
Tarallucci e Vino Museum Cafe (employee discount)
Museum Shop (employee discount)
Free Admission to most NYC museums and galleries
Other Employee Discounts

Please submit a cover letter and resume addressing the qualification requirements to:

The position is opened until filled.