Queen’s University Art Conservation Program and National Gallery of Canada partners to launch a comprehensive diversity internship program

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Queen’s University’s Art Conservation Program has partnered with the National Gallery of Canada to launch a comprehensive diversity internship program.

The Internship Program in Art Conservation, initiated by Stephen Gritt, the Director of Conservation and Technical Research at the National Gallery of Canada, will allow four students to gain hands-on experience in art conservation after their acceptance into the Queen’s Art Conservation Program.

Patricia Smithen, the Director of Art Conservation Program and Assistant Professor at Queen’s University, explains the internship will give the opportunity to the students to learn both the theoretical and practical aspects of art conservation.

“The program aims to increase awareness and knowledge about the profession [art conservation] and help students throughout their academic and career pursuits,” Smithen said.

“This specifically will provide an opportunity for students from diverse cultural backgrounds to learn and excel in the field of conservation.”

Queen’s University offers the only Master of Art Conservation program in Canada, specializing in the conservation of paintings, paper objects, and artifacts. The curriculum also includes modules to learn how to research conservation science.

Queen’s offers two streams in the art conservation master’s degree program. A two-year research program targeted towards science and engineering graduates, who wish to have a career in conservation science, and a one-year research stream for mid-career level professional conservators with at least five years of experience. A total of 15-20 students are enrolled each year.

The first intern through the diversity internship program was hired in June last year, Tirza Harris, a student from Kingston with a Caribbean-Canadian origin. Harris had comprehensive practical experience working at NGC in the restoration-conservation laboratory.

“Like many professions within the museum field, conservation is a discipline with its roots planted firmly in the European tradition,” Gritt said.

“Our field will greatly benefit from different perspectives from various fields of study and different voices from diverse backgrounds and cultures.”

This year the program will allow four students to gain practical experience in art conservation before enrolling in Queen’s Art Conservation program, and each intern will receive a $25,000 bursary.

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

The internship is primarily for Indigenous and Black students and students from diverse cultural backgrounds across Canada. Within three to five months of this internship, the students will be paired with the experts at the National Gallery who will be their mentors and guide them in research and practical aspects of art conservation.

Zoha Khalid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, YGK News

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