Conservator-in-Residence (Beijing, China)

By Paid Job Ads posted 09-25-2019 12:44


World Monuments Fund Conservator-in-Residence

CRAFT (Conservation Resources for Architectural Interiors/Furniture, and Training)
12-month appointment located in Beijing – ideal start date February 1, 2020 but flexible

CRAFT is a training program with an emphasis on the conservation of fine furniture and historic interiors developed and jointly administered by the Palace Museum (PM) and Tsinghua University (TSU) in Beijing. It was established by the Palace Museum and World Monuments Fund as part of a collaborative program to conserve the Qianlong Garden (QLG) located in the Forbidden City with the goal of teaching modern conservation methodology and techniques, while also supporting traditional hand skills.  China has a long history of furniture making and related craft work, and understanding this history is important to the conservation approaches taught at CRAFT.

The program admits a class of 10-14 students every two years. The current class began their studies in fall 2019. CRAFT students include selected staff members of the Palace Museum, Tsinghua University master’s degree candidates, other Tsinghua University students, and mid-career conservators from other Chinese museums with furniture collections and historic interiors. Students who participate as a part of the two-year master’s program at TSU earn a master’s degree in Architectural Conservation for Wood Structures and Historic Interiors. CRAFT students who are staff members of the Palace Museum or other Chinese museums receive a certificate of completion.

World Monuments Fund Conservator-In Residence Role
Overall Goals, Tasks and Responsibilities of the Conservator- in Residence – (CIR)
Recruited from senior experts in the conservation field, the CIR will act as a liaison and educator for four key CRAFT audiences: enrolled students; visiting international faculty (1-2 per semester teaching intensive week-long seminars); craftsmen working on restoring the QLG; and the Qianlong Garden Task Force/management of the Palace Museum who are dedicated to advancing the conservation capacity of the Museum. The CIR will apply his/her knowledge and expertise to the conservation of furniture and historic interiors from the Qianlong Garden, and will create a learning environment conducive to training, mentoring, and supporting a new generation of conservators in China. The CIR will enhance an understanding of traditional Chinese craftsmanship with modern conservation practices and approaches, including applied conservation science, documentation, and imaging techniques.

To help maximize the expertise the CIR has to offer, the CIR will work with and mentor a PM-appointed local Conservator who will serve as a protégé for the CIR position. The local Conservator will also help the CIR to translate and document the CIR’s educational/academic activities described below and will work with the CIR to expand CRAFT’s conservation library.

The CIR will help advance the primary goals of CRAFT: 

Craft Students

  • To assist in the development and implementation of the hands-on (“studio”) portion of the CRAFT curriculum: CRAFT offers project-based learning that aims to advance hand-skills and conservation techniques that are needed for the care and conservation of Chinese furniture and historic interiors.
  • To provide or supervise weekly studio training of CRAFT students in the Palace Museum CRAFT studio.
  • To act as a mentor and resource for the CRAFT students in their individual work, always promoting the most appropriate conservation techniques for each situation.
  • To supervise, evaluate and advise student performance with other faculty, including periodic examination and evaluation of CRAFT students.

Local Conservator

  • To supervise or team teach with the local conservator specific techniques and concepts in both a studio and lecture format, core to the curriculum.
  • To ensure that the sequence, coordination, and content of the courses systematically teaches the CRAFT curriculum, both at the Palace Museum and at Tsinghua University.
  • To act as mentor to the local conservator teaching and assisting with the implementation of best practices in the studio as well as in the curriculum. 

Craftsmen working on restoration of Qianlong Garden to transfer CRAFT solutions to QLG project:

  • To develop, as requested, conservation solutions/suggestions for sites or objects from the QLG as part of the CRAFT training program.
  • To ensure that conservation standards taught at CRAFT are connected with the conservation work of external professionals working on the restoration/conservation of the furniture and interiors of the QLG. Because the CRAFT training program uses objects from the QLG for project-based learning, the CIR and students will adhere to best practices in the field, and to the highest possible conservation protocols and standards. The CIR will discuss conservation protocols with the responsible PM or PM QLG Task Force Staff and, if needed, guide outside craftsmen involved with the conservation work of the QLG.

 Qianlong Garden Task Force/ Palace Museum Management

  • To provide, as requested, an assessment to the Qianlong Garden Task Force of the work being undertaken by outside conservators/restorers/craftsmen working on the QLG. To make suggestions for ways to improve their work or make their work more compatible with international standards.
  • To provide WMF/PM/TSU with suggestions on how to improve the CRAFT training program in the future and how to further develop the CIR position.

Anticipated Workload Description

  • Two days a week dedicated to teaching and instructing CRAFT participants at the CRAFT studio in the Palace Museum or occasionally at TSU according to decisions made by the local CRAFT office. Individual student meetings and tutorials to be included as needed.
  • Two days a week dedicated to working with the local conservator to plan current and future course work.
  • Assist the local conservator with QLG conservation projects including CRAFT students whenever possible.
  • In partnership with the local conservator, advise on the work of outside craftsmen/restorers on current best practices in the field and standards of work.
  • Provide feedback to the Palace Museum on the quality and effectiveness of outside craftsmen’s work and suggestions for improvements as needed.
  • Provide a brief monthly status report to WMF/PM/TSU on their work with the local conservator and the CRAFT training program with suggestions for any changes or improvements that will make the program more effective.

Stipend and Other Support
World Monuments Fund will provide the Conservator-in-Residence the following financial support:

  • Stipend: Consultant fee for two academic semesters, paid to the CIR or his/her institutional employer and based on the level of experience
  • Transportation: RT economy-plus airfare between CIR’s home city and Beijing, including visa fees
  • Transportation: RT economy airfare to Hong Kong to meet Chinese visa requirements
  • Lodging: One-bedroom apartment with kitchen, or the equivalent, in Beijing at TSU faculty housing including utilities and Wi-Fi connection; a larger apartment will be available for CIR’s bringing their family.

In addition, WMF provides the following support on-site in Beijing:

  • Local Conservator, as mentioned above.
  • Translation as needed for classroom and studio instruction
  • Weekly meetings with WMF’s country representative, and Assistant Dean for CRAFT
  • Reasonable local travel and petty cash funds for site visits to other local museums or training sites and for supplies and materials when needed.

Successful Applicant
The successful applicant will be a well-trained, practicing hands on conservator.  They will have a full understanding of furniture making and the materials involved.  They will be able to teach basic woodworking.

They will have a deep knowledge of conservation science and conservation best practices and the ability to apply that knowledge to conservation challenges.  They will be knowledgeable about structural repairs, surface cleaning, consolidation and loss compensation.  They will be able to reach preventative conservation, documentation and photography.  They will be familiar with microscopy and wood identification.  They will enjoy teaching and mentoring young people.  They will be collaborative with colleagues and able to adjust and adapt quickly to changes in the workplace and possess creative problem-solving skills.  They should be adventurous and eager to learn as well as teach.  Knowledge of Chinese a plus, but not required.

Please submit a cover letter and resume to Those applicants who are being considered will be contacted, no phone calls please.

World Monuments Fund is an equal opportunity employer and considers applicants for all positions without regard to race, color, religion, creed, gender, national origin age, disability, marital or veteran status, sexual orientation or any other legally protected status. 

World Monuments Fund’s mission is to preserve the world’s architectural heritage of significant monuments, buildings, and sites.  In partnership with local communities, funders and governments, WMF seeks to inspire an enduring commitment to stewardship for future generations.