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Photo provided by National Gallery of Canada

National Gallery of Canada announces new internship program in art conservation

By Shireen Agharazi-Dormani on October 13, 2021

Art conservation combines the study of art and the history of humankind using the history of technology plus the physical sciences. Some of you may have heard of it, and some of you may have not (*cough* me *cough*). But if this profession has piqued your interest, you may have an opportunity to learn more.

The National Gallery of Canada (NGC) recently announced the launch of a new Conservation Internship Program for BIPOC students across Canada. Their goal is to increase the representation of professionals from diverse communities.

Created and led by the NGC in collaboration with the Art Conservation program at Queen’s University in Kingston and the Canadian Conservation Institute, the program is designed to provide the best possible start for students pursuing a career in conservation. It will enable interns to both learn from and develop a network with professionals in the field.

Take notes! You could learn a thing or two. Photo provided by National Gallery of Canada.

The NGC has a large conservation department specializing in contemporary art, paintings, frames, sculptures, and photographs. The team of conservators observe nearly 2,000 works from the national collection yearly.

“Like many professions within the museum field, conservation is a discipline with its roots planted firmly in European tradition,” says NGC conservation director Stephen Gritt in a statement. “Our field will greatly benefit from different perspectives from various fields of study, and different voices from diverse backgrounds and cultures.”

This initiative provides each of four students with a $25,000 bursary, allowing them to benefit from the program before they go to Queen’s University to formally study art conservation as part of the Master’s program. This program is the only conservation training in Canada at this level.

What do you see? Photo provided by National Gallery of Canada.

From research to technical examination, these interns have a chance to better understand some of the complexities of conservation and restoration work. For several months, the interns will be paired with various experts from the Gallery’s restoration and conservation laboratory and will observe them as they do their daily work. They will also be introduced to conservation science and broader heritage preservation issues at the Canadian Conservation Institute.

“This internship is an open space for exploration, meaning that I was able to arrive at the NGC every week and spend time speaking with conservators to best understand various aspects and problems within conservation,” says Tirza Harris, one of the interns from the program, in a statement.

The Caribbean Canadian intern said her time with the NGC enabled her to talk to conservators about their career paths and see how specializations can approach problems differently. “Conservation is fundamentally interdisciplinary and reaching across departments only strengthens my approach as an emerging conservator,” she says.

To apply for the program, BIPOC students must first apply for the Master’s degree in art conservation at Queen’s University. While filling out their application form, they need to fill out the section about the internship program. The next round of applications are due Jan. 15, 2022.

“The National Gallery of Canada is happy to show some leadership in this area and believes this project will lead to broader benefits,” says Gritt.


If you’re a student interested in becoming an art conservator and would like to learn more about the internship program, contact the Gallery at interncons@gallery.ca. They can spend time with a conservator to learn more before through with the application process. If applicants have any questions or want to speak with a faculty member or current student, they can contact Queen’s at artcon@queensu.ca. For more information, click here.