Getty announces new Post-Baccalaureate Internships in Art Conservation

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Getty announces new Post-Baccalaureate Internships in Art Conservation
Michelle Tenggara.

LOS ANGELES, CA.- With the goal of diversifying the field of art conservation, Getty announced today a pilot internship program that offers financial support and hands-on experience to students preparing to apply to graduate programs in this specialty. This is the first nationwide program providing yearlong support to post-baccalaureate young professionals from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds who aspire to careers in art conservation.

“This new program seeks to reduce the very real barriers to professional careers in conservation faced by many students of color,” says Tim Whalen, John E. and Louise Bryson Director of the Getty Conservation Institute.

The lack of diversity in art conservation is a concern for museums nationwide. An advanced degree is essential for this work, and applicants to the few graduate degree programs that exist typically have completed a range of prerequisite courses in science, art history, and studio art, along with almost 1,000 hours of internship training, usually unpaid. Graduate program administrators say these realities have produced a conservation field that is neither equitable nor culturally diverse, an assessment that is confirmed by data such as the Mellon Foundation’s Art Museum Staff Demographic Surveys of 2015 and 2018 that show conservation as one of the least diverse areas in the museum field.

“Increased diversity in conservation serves to not only address the statistical lack of representation, but it strengthens our field by bringing in additional viewpoints and currently excluded interpretative lenses. Culturally diverse conservators will use their expertise and passion to privilege underserved collections,” says Ellen Pearlstein, director of the Andrew W. Mellon Opportunity for Diversity in Conservation and Professor, UCLA Information Studies and UCLA/Getty Conservation. “While we recognize that work must continue to remove barriers to entry in our field, this program will offer immediate resources to these selected emerging professionals.”

Three interns will participate in the 2020/2021 inaugural year for the program, and have started with residencies in the antiquities and paintings departments of the Getty Museum as well as the conservation department of the Getty Research Institute. They are:

• Cheyenne Caraway, Fort Lewis College, Durango, CO
• Kiera Hammond, Howard University, Washington, D.C.
• Michelle Tenggara, University of California, Los Angeles

Each intern will receive a grant of $30,000 for twelve months, plus additional support for tuition reimbursement and attendance at professional conferences, remotely or otherwise.

Additional experiences for the interns are planned in partnership with a consortium of other Los Angeles museums, including the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, the Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens; the Fowler Museum at UCLA; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA); and the Autry Museum of the American West.

"Through the Getty’s internship, I hope to gain an opportunity to connect to something much more significant than myself for the enrichment and enhancement of the Black community,” says Kiera Hammond. “Through this funded internship, it will allow me the opportunity to be exposed to the different specialties within conservation. I am looking forward to learning from the researchers and conservators at the Getty about preservation management while expanding my conservation skills for paper treatment."

Given the continued closure of Getty and the other partner museums due to COVID-19, the interns have started their residencies remotely. During this time, they are receiving supervision and mentoring from Pearlstein and Getty conservators and taking online prerequisite courses at Santa Monica College. Rotating residencies will take place later in the academic year, pending the safe reopening of museums as pandemic conditions allow.

The pilot year of the Getty Post-Baccalaureate Conservation Internships is made possible with funding from the Getty Patron Program. The internship program is administered by the Getty Foundation, which also funds the Getty Marrow Undergraduate Internships and Getty Graduate Internships.

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