We’re Recruiting! Conservation Internships at The Bowes Museum

Regular readers of our blog will be aware that our Conservation Department is currently hosting three Icon/HLF interns. This is part of a 5-year project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, under the ‘Skills For The Future’ scheme. The Museum will host three interns at a time, on 12-month paid placements, running from 2014 until 2019.

With the first year of the internships proving to be a huge success, we are now recruiting for the second intake of interns. Starting in October 2015, the Museum will again host two interns in Textiles Conservation, and one in Paintings Conservation.

Paul condition checking a painting
Paul condition checking a painting

As a valuable part of the Conservation Department, the interns will gain practical, preventive and workplace skills, tailored to help them develop their careers in conservation. By the end of the 12-month internship, the candidates will have produced a portfolio of their work, enabling them to apply for posts in museums, galleries, historic buildings or further formal programmes in conservation training.

Emily and Maria making soft-packing for a set of Indian bed hangings
Emily and Maria making soft-packing for a set of Indian bed hangings

Now more than halfway through their internships, our current interns reflect on their work so far, and what the internships mean to them:


Emily Austin – Textiles Conservation intern

Since starting my ICON/HLF internship I have been lucky enough to be involved in a wide range of projects and activities within and out with The Bowes Museum, which have made this a fantastic continuation of my conservation training. I have assisted with courier trips to London as well as installing loans in to the museum. I have been able to work on creative re-storage projects and complex interventive treatments. Additionally, I have helped to source materials for the studio and worked alongside the museum’s preventive conservator monitoring the textile stores and studio.

I am now 6 months in to the placement and still have an exciting work plan and schedule of visits to look forward to. This includes specialist workshops in leather and plastic conservation which I have been able to attend with funding allocated alongside the internship. I will also be involved in the install of the highly anticipated YSL exhibition coming to the museum in July.

The Bowes Museum has been a brilliant location for my internship with the chance to work closely within a small team and also as part of the wider museum staff. One of the most beneficial aspects is that time is given to my ongoing training and we are encouraged to visit other conservation studios and places of interest which helps to build a professional network.


Paul Turner – Paintings Conservation intern

The painting conservation internship at The Bowes Museum has been an amazing experience, so much so it’s hard to keep track of everything I have been doing and the opportunities that have presented themselves to me.  I was fortunate to have a baptism of fire, with my start date coinciding with the set up of three exhibitions. As well as assisting with logistical tasks, I had the chance to take the lead with condition reporting a large proportion of the incoming Julian Opie exhibition. Interestingly, this task also allowed me to briefly chat to the artist himself about related conservation concerns, which is definitely the way to go (when possible).

Work in the studio has been quite varied, from preventive to interventive, and including tasks such as:  consolidation, surface cleaning, varnish removal, to retouching, on two 19th century paintings. The mainstay of my time, and by far the highlight, has been the conservation of 6 quite exquisite, double sided 15th century Flemish panel paintings by the Master of the View of St. Gudule (see previous posts). The depth and scale of the project was challenging but ultimately extremely rewarding, and I feel privileged to have been involved.

As a budding painting conservator, I couldn’t recommend this internship more strongly, I am thankful that I still have 5 months left and will be quite sad when I will have to leave (in fact you will probably see me chained to the front door on your first day – please say hello).


Maria Pardos – Textiles Conservation intern

Reaching the halfway point of the internship is a good moment to look back and sum up. This placement is an incredible opportunity, giving me the chance to participate as a part of the team in the day-to-day running of the museum.

Over the past months I have gained valuable professional, and also personal, experience. I have worked on the installation and de-installation of exhibitions; acted as a courier for Bowes Museum objects; worked on individual and collective conservation projects; as well as documentation, assessments, re-storage, outreach and preventive projects. As a part of the internship program, training and the creation of a professional network is important, and I have had many opportunities to do so.

It will be really sad to say goodbye in October, but we´re still in the middle, which means there are quite a few months of hard work and learning to go.


For more information about the wider Icon internship scheme, visit the Icon website.

Applications are now open. The closing date for applications is 12 noon on Friday 19th June. Interviews will be held during the week of the 3rd of August, with a start date of the 19th of October.

The Bowes Museum will be hosting a free open-day for potential applicants to the internship scheme on Thursday 21st May 2015. For more information contact katy.smith@thebowesmuseum.org.uk

By Katy Smith, Textiles Conservator

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