Assistant Conservator (Objects)

Seattle, WA
Full Time
Assistant Conservator (Objects)

OVERVIEW: Oversee conservation treatment and preventive care of objects at the Seattle Art Museum, with particular focus on works at the Olympic Sculpture Park. Work with the Senior Objects Conservator and the Conservation and Collections Care team to preserve the museum’s collections.

The Seattle Art Museum (SAM) seeks a qualified Assistant Conservator to join the museum’s Conservation team to care for the museum collection, particularly the works of art housed at the Olympic Sculpture Park. One of SAM’s three museum sites, the Olympic Sculpture Park on the downtown waterfront was opened in 2007 and displays permanent installations of important modern sculpture, as well as contemporary displays. It is open every day, and entrance to the public is always free of charge. The Assistant Conservator will work closely with the Senior Objects Conservator to determine treatments, and manage projects, to liaise with artists, donors and estates, and to engage vendors and guest conservation specialists as we care for SAM’s outdoor sculpture collection.

SAM is dedicated to racial equity and strives for employees, volunteers, and interns who are passionate, qualified, and offer diverse perspectives. SAM prioritizes racial equity in the workplace because we know that people of color are the most impacted when it comes to inequities. We are particularly interested in engaging with historically under-represented groups in the museum field as we strive to be inclusive and equitable. SAM is responsive to cultural communities and experiences, and our strategic plan goals address the role art plays in empowering social justice and structural change to promote equity in our society.

FLSA STATUS: Non-Exempt        

REPORTS TO: Senior Objects Conservator
COMPENSATION: $67,000 yearly

  1. Carry out all facets of examination, documentation, research, treatment, and long-term preservation of works of art in the museum’s permanent collection, with a primary focus on works at the Olympic Sculpture Park.
  2. Efficiently project manage treatment of works of art throughout the conservation process.
  3. Accurately document projects and generate documentation to be archived on the museum’s collection database.
  4. Assist in preservation planning and emergency preparedness and response, in relation to the collection.
  5. Support conservation team during capital projects and art moves.
  6. Support the museum's exhibition schedule and outgoing loan activities by working with colleagues in a range of departments to prepare works of art for display and loan.
  7. Interact with a broad range of people, including park visitors and the public, donors, students, scholars and lenders, concerning conservation and preservation issues.
  8. Answer phone and mail inquiries about the collections preserved in the park.
  9. Research works of art from the museum collections and present findings in lectures, displays and publications.  
  10. Assist with supervision of conservation interns.
  11. Serve as courier for at-risk works of art traveling to other institutions; carry out treatments, surveys, inspections and consultations as necessary.
  12. Maintain the highest standards of museum practice through continued education, personal research, and active dialog with colleagues at other museums. Attend regional and national conservation conferences, conduct research, present papers and share technical expertise with regional cultural institutions.
  13. Represent the Museum with a high level of integrity and professionalism.
  14. Adhere to Museum policies and support management decisions in a positive, professional manner.
  1. Perform other duties as assigned.
Work areas are both inside, in a climate-controlled environment with light background noise, and outside, at the Olympic Sculpture Park, as well as at other sites, such as the Seattle Asian Art Museum, at donor residences, etc.

Exposure to hazardous materials:
Objects in the museum collections may contain pesticide residues or other toxic materials, either inherently, or from previous treatments and the conservator may be exposed to potentially toxic materials during their work. The Assistant Conservator (Objects) may be at risk from exposure to these materials and should be able and prepared to wear appropriate personal protective equipment such as gloves and a respirator. Training and PPE will be provided. X-radiography equipment may be used, following training.

Computer                                        Basic museum analytical equipment (microscopes etc.)
Copier                                              Lift (with training)
General office equipment            Ladder                                                        
Conservation supplies                   Visible Light meter
UV meter                                         Hygrothermograph
Data Logger                                     Hand and Power Tools        
Hygrometer                                     Psychrometer                      
Automobile                                      Photographic equipment     
  1. Sitting/Standing/WalkingApproximately 70% of time is spent standing or moving around work areas.  Balance of time (approximately 30%) is spent seated while working at a desk.
  2. Speaking/HearingClear diction and acute hearing are necessary for effective communication with co-workers and outside agencies, by telephone and in person.
  3. VisionCorrected vision close to 20/20 is necessary to effectively work with art and use the computer screens.
  4. Lifting/Carrying/Pushing/PullingThe ability to lift and carry up to fifty pounds is necessary for transporting conservation supplies.
  5. Stooping/KneelingThe ability to stoop and kneel is necessary for accessing artwork
  6. Reaching/HandlingGood manual dexterity is necessary for computer keyboard use and for retrieving and working with appropriate paperwork, equipment, and supplies.
  7. EquipmentAbility to use respirators and other protective equipment. Use ladders. Be able to operate a lift and comfortable with heights of 50ft.  
  1.  Master’s degree in conservation, or equivalent training
  2.  Bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts, Art History, Scientific Studies, or Museum Studies, or equivalent experience.
  3. Three years of experience in the conservation field.
  4.  Valid driver's license.
  5. Excellent conservation and project management skills.
  6. Experience the conservation of outdoor sculpture, sculpture fabrication and/or industrial coatings extremely helpful.
  7. Knowledge of basic accounting procedures and budget development and monitoring.
  8. Knowledge of environmental requirements and controls for handling, storage, exhibition, and travel of artwork; knowledge of the use of hand and power tools and machines required in the conservation and transport of artwork.
  9. Knowledge of art object materials and of the chemical and physical processes of their deterioration; knowledge of the procedures relating to the examination and preventive and corrective treatment of art objects.
  10. Knowledge of Museum standards and practices of registration, art handling, , and collections storage requirements and procedures.
  11. Knowledge and adherence to the code of ethics of the AAM and AIC governing the museum profession.
  12. Ability to take initiative and prioritize tasks; excellent time-management, problem-prevention, and problem-solving skills.
  13. Ability to work independently and as part of a team; ability to motivate self.
  14. Ability to work accurately with close attention to detail.
  15. Ability to maintain confidentiality of sensitive information.
  16. Ability to work with co-workers, vendors, and outside agencies professionally and tactfully.
  17. Exhibit a professional, businesslike appearance and demeanor.
  18. Accurate typing/keyboarding skills; basic computer skills.
  19. Excellent written and oral communication skills; ability to communicate effectively and project a professional image when giving and taking information in writing, in person, and over the telephone.

Don’t check off every box listed above? Please apply anyway! Studies have shown that marginalized communities - such as women, LGBTQ+ and people of color - are less likely to apply to jobs unless they meet every single qualification. SAM is dedicated to building an inclusive, diverse, equitable, and accessible workplace that fosters a sense of belonging – so if you’re excited about this role but your past experience doesn’t align perfectly with every qualification in the job description, we encourage you to still consider submitting an application. You may be just the right candidate for this role or another one of our openings!

Centering equity, diversity, and inclusion as an organization, and as individuals, Seattle Art Museum (SAM) is committed to ensuring that all employees and volunteers enjoy a respectful, inclusive, and welcoming workplace. SAM is proud to be an equal opportunity employer. All qualified candidates will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, creed, color, national origin, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, disability, honorably discharged veteran or military status, or any other protected class. 

Please contact the Human Resources Department at (206) 654-3188 or [email protected] for additional information or to request reasonable accommodations for the application or interview process. Offers of employment are contingent upon successful completion of a criminal background check

TO APPLY:   Please visit  to submit SAM employment application, cover letter and resume.

Deadline: July 19 2024  


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