Learn to Restore Art through an Art Conservation Program

Restoring and conserving artworks, such as Old Masters paintings, brittle drawings, fragile ceramics, and threadbare tapestries, requires the finesse of a fine artist, the meticulousness of a jeweler, and the scientific knowledge of a chemist.

In order to be an expert in such diverse fields, an art conservator must either apprentice with a master or enroll in a top-notch art conservation program where the latest tools and technology are taught. Here is a sampling of eight art conservation programs around the world where such hands-on knowledge can be obtained.

The Istituto Superiore per la Conservazione ed il Restauro (ISCR)

What better place to learn art conservation than in Rome, Italy! The Istituto Superiore per la Conservazione ed il Restauro (ISCR) is one of two state schools for conservation in Italy, and is highly respected for its restoration and conservation projects.

Students learn hands-on techniques working with murals, mosaics, plaster, and paintings, and are trained on how to chemically identify materials such as stones and metals.

 Admission is gained through an annual exam contest. There are no age limits to entering. Foreign students need to pass an Italian language exam.

The Courtauld Institute of Art

The Courtauld Institute of Art, located in London, is renowned for its art history and art conservation study programs. It offers an MA in Painting Conservation (Wall Painting) and a Postgraduate Diploma in the Conservation of Easel Paintings.

Foreign students need to meet English language requirements and obtain necessary visas to study there.

New York University, The Conservation Center of the Institute of Fine Arts

New York University, The Conservation Center of the Institute of Fine Arts is the oldest degree-granting art conservation program in North America. It offers graduate and doctorate degrees in conservation. The MA conservation degree is a two-year full-time or three-year part-time program that combines art history, archaeology, curatorship, and science with high-tech lab work and on-site archaeological digs in the summer.

Students applying to the masters program do not need a degree in art history, but should have a liberal arts education.

The Tulane School of Architecture

Located in New Orleans, the Tulane School of Architecture Masters of Preservation Studies program is a one-year masters program with courses focusing on history of architecture in the Americas, building preservation, preservation technology, historic preservation law seminar, and environmental conservation. Besides academic course study, an internship is also required.

Students can instead study to get a certificate or a minor in preservation studies.

The UCLA and Getty Conservation Institute Masters Program

The UCLA and Getty Conservation Institute offers both a master and doctorate program in Conservation of Archaeological and Ethnographic Materials. The master's program trains students in conservation and preservation of archaeological and cultural objects.

The program is based at the Getty Villa in Malibu, which is an educational center and museum focused on ancient cultures, and where students work directly with state-of-the-art conservation technology.

Buffalo State University

Buffalo State University's three-year M.A. program teaches students to work in museums and libraries as professional art conservators of artistic, cultural, and/or historical works. In year two, students have to choose between learning about the preservation of painting, objects (such as family heirlooms), or paper. They can further niche their studies if desired, such as learning to preserve photographs or books.

Students need to meet general graduate admission requirements as well as have credit hours in art history, chemistry, and studio art.

The University of Delaware

The University of Delaware Art Conservation Department offers undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate degrees in art conservation. Graduate students have access to the Scientific Research and Analysis Laboratory (SRAL) where they learn to use the latest scientific research technology used in art conservation.

Graduate students should have studied in one of the following areas: anthropology, archaeology, technology, art, and cultural history, chemistry, or studio arts and crafts.

The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC)

The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) offers a Master of Science in Historic Preservation (MSHP). The two-year program focuses on how to preserve, restore, reuse, and revitalize historic buildings, sites, and furnishings.

The school offers on- and off-campus and online admission events where you can learn more about the programs and requirements.