Job Listing: Conservator of Archaeological Materials

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The Conservator of Archaeological Materials is responsible for enhancing the protection and preservation of Colonial Williamsburg’s cultural assets by supervising the operation of the archaeological materials conservation laboratory. Primary functions include: proposing and carrying out conservation treatments and researching and developing new approaches to conservation treatment. Condition assessments and treatments are carried out in accordance with exhibition objectives and research priorities. Additionally, the Conservator of Archaeological Materials oversees the conservation treatments and career development of laboratory staff as well as conservation technicians, interns, and volunteers.


  • Examines artifacts from the collections and, in consultation with curatorial staff, prepares written treatment proposals, performs treatments, and prepares treatment reports complete with photo-documentation. All using recognized techniques in compliance with the Code of Ethics of the American Institute for Conservation.
  • Works closely with archaeologists and curators to determine examination and treatment priorities based on object needs, excavation and exhibition schedules, and loan requirements; and to ensure ability to meet established deadlines.
  • Advises on research goals and excavation strategies for pending and active archaeological excavations.
  • Consults on seasonal field archaeological processes and their impact on artifact stability.
  • Performs on-site treatments in the field as dictated by site and artifact conditions.
  • Provides conservation training for the archaeological staff and field school as needed
  • Conducts conservation assessments of objects as requested; includes objects being considered for accession and deaccession.
  • Manages day-to-day operation of archaeological materials lab including treatment time management, ordering supplies and materials, handling documentation and other paperwork, and maintaining lab space and equipment.
  • Researches and develops new approaches to treatment as needed and appropriate.
  • Maintains awareness of current techniques and technologies in the conservation field and carries out research and related projects to test new and improved materials or applications and methodologies as other responsibilities allow.
  • Supervises and instructs laboratory staff, interns and volunteers as circumstances require. Specific responsibilities include: training, observing and inspecting work, offering feedback and conducting performance appraisals.
  • Provides support for and management of departmental x-ray facility. Specific responsibilities include ordering supplies, mixing and disposing of developing chemicals, scheduling annual maintenance, and taking x-rays for other staff members as requested. As time and schedule allow, act as mentor to qualified members of the conservation department to facilitate their use of the equipment
  • Works collaboratively with Collections, Conservation and Museum division staff and, upon request, assists other conservators on assigned projects; offers suggestions when appropriate.
  • Prepares and delivers public and professional lectures, demonstrations, and training sessions on conservation theory and techniques. Publishes new research as other responsibilities allow.
  • Gives regular public tours in labs, exhibition buildings and museum galleries.
  • Provides information to and responds to inquiries from the public, Foundation staff and staff of other institutions.
  • Performs other related duties as required.


Job Requirements:

  • Excellent communication skills, both oral and written, including professional presentations.
  • Ability to establish and maintain effective working relationships.
  • Must be able to establish priorities, meet deadlines and work under pressure.
  • Detailed knowledge of traditional decorative, fine, and folk art materials and technologies.
  • Knowledge of the effects of environmental conditions on materials and objects.
  • Detailed knowledge of conservation materials and experience in applying current conservation methodologies.
  • Highly developed manual skills.
  • Scientific knowledge sufficient for undertaking in-depth examination and analysis of objects, performing treatments and following necessary literature and reports.
  • Demonstrable history of proposed, completed and documented treatments.
  • The above generally gained through graduate level study in conservation plus seven years conservation experience in recognized institutions — or the equivalent technical education and experience.

    Preferred Qualifications:
  • Supervisory and administrative experience.
  • Field-experience on archaeological sites.
  • Membership in a professional conservation organization.
  • History of publications pertinent to the area of specialization.



Direct: Supervision of laboratory staff, technician, interns and volunteers as circumstances require.


General supervision from the Director of Conservation


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