Navigation Menu+

Smithsonian Postgraduate/Postdoctoral Fellowships in Conservation of Museum Collections Program

11SI-ConsSchedule 6-19-14 Roster


The Smithsonian Postgraduate Fellowship in Conservation of Museum Collections offers opportunities to conduct research and gain further training in the conservation of museum collection objects. This opportunity is open to recent graduates of masters programs in art and archaeological conservation (or the equivalent) and conservation scientists (including those at the postdoctoral level).

These fellowships are offered through the Smithsonian’s Office of Fellowships and Internships. They are administered under the charter of the Institution, 20 U.S. Code section 41 et seq. Fellowship awards under this program are contingent upon the availability of funds.


  • Applicants must propose to conduct research in the conservation of objects in museum collections in conservation laboratories at the Smithsonian Institution. Past or current Smithsonian fellowship recipients are eligible to apply for future Smithsonian awards.
  • No employee or contractor of the Smithsonian Institution may hold a Smithsonian fellowship during the time of his/her employment or contract, nor may an award be offered to any person who has been employed by or under contract to the Institution in the previous year, without the prior approval of the Office of Fellowships.
  • Applicants whose native language is not English are expected to have the ability to write and converse fluently in English. All application materials must be presented in English (foreign transcripts may be translated, see below).

How it Works:

Postgraduate/Postdoctoral Conservation Fellowships are usually awarded for one year, but applications for shorter periods will be considered with three months being the minimum. In accepting an appointment, the fellow is expected to be in residence at the Smithsonian except for approved absences. Financial support, in addition to a Smithsonian fellowship, for such purposes as research travel and equipment may be received from other sources, provided that no special demands are made upon the fellow’s time. Permission to receive additional stipend support must be requested in writing from the Office of Fellowships.

Postgraduate/Postdoctoral Conservation Fellows will conduct research and study in conservation laboratories at the Smithsonian Institution. The prospective fellow must first contact the conservator or scientist with whom he or she would like to work and is encouraged to seek direction with crafting an effective proposal. Previously successful proposals have benefited from the proposed mentor’s guidance in navigating the Smithsonian collections. Applicants should consult the Smithsonian Opportunities for Research and Study (SORS) in advance to select a proposed advisor who can assist with accessing facilities and necessary equipment. The amount of support services available to the fellow will be determined by the workload of the department and the policy of the department chairperson and/or unit director. Additional analytical facilities may be available at the Museum Conservation Institute (MCI), but an MCI staff member must be listed as an advisor/co-advisor or consultant as part of the application. Fellows have access to the Smithsonian Institution Libraries with privileges which include borrowing library materials, inter-library loans, document delivery, database searching, and reference assistance.

It is important that applicants consider the following factors carefully when choosing the dates for the proposed fellowship:

  • The schedule of their proposed adviser/host and the availability of required resources.
  • The dates of tenure proposed in the application (and any change of dates if the fellowship is awarded) should be selected in agreement with the proposed principal adviser.
  • In submitting an application for a fellowship at the Institution, the applicant does not incur any obligation to accept the appointment, if selected.Applicants must contact staff members (listed below) to help identify potential advisers, determine the feasibility of the proposed research being conducted at the Smithsonian Institution, and ensure the availability of relevant resources such as staff, collections, and archives and library materials during the proposed tenure dates. Additional facilities may be available to museum or archives fellows for analytical work at the Museum Conservation Institute (MCI), but an MCI staff member must be listed as an advisor/co-advisor or consultant as part of the application.

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum:

Kira Eng-Wilmot, Senior Textile Conservator, (decorative/applied arts: textiles, paper, three-dimensional objects) 212-849-8462; engwilmots@si.edu


Freer and Sackler Galleries:

Andrew Hare, Supervisory Conservator, East Asian Painting, (objects, paper, and Asian paintings; and conservation science) 202-633-0370; harean@si.edu


Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden:

Gwynne Ryan, Chief Conservator, (modern materials) 202-633- 2728; ryangw@si.ed


Museum Conservation Institute:

Carol Grissom, Senior Objects Conservator, 301-238-1236, grissomc@si.edu


National Air and Space Museum:

Malcolm Collum, Engen Conservation Chair, (objects) 703-572-4361; collumm@si.edu


National Museum of American History:

Janice Ellis, Senior Paper Conservator, (books and paper) 202-633-3623; ellisjs@si.edu

Sunae Park Evans, Senior Costume Conservator, (costumes and textiles) 202-633-3629; evanssu@si.edu

Beth Richwine, Senior Objects Conservator, (objects) 202-633-3639; richwineb@si.edu


National Museum of Natural History:

Catharine Hawks, Museum Conservator, (natural history and anthropological objects) 202-633-0835; hawksc@si.edu


National Portrait Gallery:

Lou Molnar, Head of Conservation, (paintings and paper) 202-633-5822; molnarl@si.edu


Smithsonian American Art Museum:

Amber Kerr, Acting Chief of Conservation, (colonial to contemporary paintings, paper, objects, and frames) 202-633-4346; Kerra@si.edu


Smithsonian Institution Archives:

Nora Lockshin, Senior Conservator, (archives, books, and paper) 202-633-5913; lockshinn@si.edu

How to Apply:

All applications must be submitted by December 1, 2017

Notification of decisions will be made no later than April 1, 2018.


General Application Information:

All applications should be sent through our SOLAA system.

Once registered and logged in you will need to complete the requested information regarding mailing address, academic history, current university or college etc.

You can find the application for the opportunity under the Office of Fellowships and Internships.

Files you will need to upload:


An abstract of the proposed research, not more than one page (please upload this in the same file with your Research Proposal).

Research Proposal:

The full statement of your research, maximum THREE PAGES typescript. It should be double-spaced, excluding all other parts of the application, such as the abstract and bibliography. Do not use type smaller than 12-point font. In preparing your proposal, be sure to provide and address the following:

  • A description of the research you plan to undertake at the Smithsonian Institution, including the methodology to be utilized.
  • The importance of the work, both in relation to the broader discipline and to your own scholarly goals.
  • Justification for conducting your research at the Smithsonian and utilization of research facilities and resources.
  • Identification of the member of the Smithsonian’s research staff who might serve as your principal adviser/host. Also identify potential co-adviser(s) and/or consultant(s), if applicable. The publication, Smithsonian Opportunities for Research and Study (SORS), contains the necessary information on staff research specialties and current departmental interests to help you determine which staff members are best suited to your research needs. Research staff may be named by applicants to serve as principal advisers, co-advisers or consultants. Affiliated research staff may be named as co-advisers or consultants if they will be in residence during at least a portion of the tenure period proposed. You are strongly encouraged to correspond with your proposed adviser(s) as you prepare your proposal.
  • If you select any non-Smithsonian consultants for your proposal, provide the consultant’s professional title as well as contact information, including an email address. 

Budget and Justification:

Budget and justification for equipment, supplies, research-related travel costs, and other support required to conduct the research itself (excluding stipend and relocation costs). You are encouraged to discuss potential research costs with your proposed adviser(s) before submitting your application. If the funds required to support the research exceed the maximum research allowance of $4,000, please explain the source of additional funds.


A bibliography of literature relevant to the applicant’s proposed research.

Curriculum Vitae:

Curriculum vitae, including previous and current fellowships, grants, and/or awards, and a description of your research interests. If English is not your native language, describe the level of your proficiency in reading, conversing, and writing in English.

Transcripts (unofficial are acceptable):

Transcripts (or other materials when transcripts are not issued) from all appropriate institutions are required, except for senior fellowship applications. Applicants for postdoctoral fellowships need only submit graduate transcripts. If transcripts or other materials are not in English, the applicant should provide translations.


  • You will need the names and email addresses of two persons familiar with your work. Please note that all reference letters are considered confidential unless confidentiality has been specifically waived by the referee. Do not list Smithsonian staff members as your referees; they will have the opportunity to review your application after it is submitted.
  • Please provide a copy of your proposal and a copy of Letter to Referee (downloadable pdf) to your referees.
  • All reference letters will be considered confidential and the contents will not be revealed to the applicant unless confidentiality has been specifically waived by the referee. Therefore, please have the reference submit in sufficient time to meet the application deadline.
  • The application, consisting of the proposal, academic records, and two supporting letters, will be reviewed by members of the Smithsonian’s research staff. Applications will be evaluated on the basis of the proposal’s merit, the ability of the applicant to carry out the proposed research and study, and the extent to which the Smithsonian, through its staff members and resources, can contribute to the proposed research.
  • Through the system SOLAA you will send an email to these referees so they can provide references through the web.

Selection Criteria:

Applications are evaluated by a Smithsonian Peer Review Committee made up of scholars in appropriate fields. Fellows are selected based on the following:

  • Proposal’s merit
  • Applicant’s ability to carry out the proposed research and study
  • Likelihood that the research could be completed in the requested time
  • Extent to which the Smithsonian, through its research staff members and resources, could contribute to the proposed research.
  • The Fellowship Program does not discriminate on grounds of race, creed, sex, age, marital status, condition of handicap, or national origin of any applicant.


What is the Smithsonian Postgraduate/Postdoctoral Fellowship in Conservation of Museum Collections Program?

This is a program offered to recent graduates of masters programs in art and archaeological conservation or the equivalent or conservation scientists, including those at the postdoctoral level, who wish to conduct research and gain further training in Smithsonian conservation laboratories for conservation of objects in museum collections.

Who can I contact with questions about the Fellowship or the application process?

If you have any questions please contact the Office of Fellowships and Internships at 202-633-7070 or send an email to siofi@si.edu.

Previous Conservation of Museum Collections Fellows:


Antoine, Elizabeth M., University of Texas, Austin. The Conservation of Letterpress Copying Books: A Study of the Baird Collection, at the Smithsonian Institution Archives with Sarah Stauderman and Nora Lockshin from September 1, 2009 through November 30, 2010.


Barbisan, Sophie. Institut National du Patrimoine, Aubervilliers. Local cleaning of stained artworks on paper with rigid gels, at the American Art Museum working with Catherine Maynor and Tiarna Doherty from October 2, 2016 through September 30, 2017.


Beesley, Elizabeth S.J., University College London. Assessing the Impact of Conservation Treatments on Waterlogged Asian Lacquers, at the Freer Gallery of Art/Arthur M. Sackler Gallery with Blythe McCarthy and Ellen Chase from October 15, 2009 through July 15, 2010.


Brogdon-Grantham, Shannon, Winterthur/University of DelawareUnderstanding the light stability of the Photograph Collection at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, at the Hirshhorn Sculpture Museum and Garden with Stephanie Lussier from September 1, 2015 through August 31, 2016.


Coughlin, Mary E., University of Delaware. Conservation of Ship Models at the National Museum of American History, at the National Museum of American History with Beth Richwine from September 1, 2006 through August 31, 2007.


Dellapiana, Laura, University del Torino. Further researches in the conservation of letterpress copying books, at the Smithsonian Institution Archives with Nora Lockshin from September 1, 2015 to December 31, 2015.


DiGiacomo, Mariana, University of Delaware. Deterioration of organic and inorganic coatings and consolidants in natural science collections, at the National Museum of Natural History with Catharine Hawks and the Museum Conservation Institute with Dr. Gwénaëlle Kavich from September 1, 2016 through December 31, 2017.


Friedman, Anna R., University of Texas, Austin. Evaluation of Efficacy of Magnesium Based Non-Aqueous Deacidification after 20 or more years of Natural Aging, at the Smithsonian Institution Archives with Nora Lockshin and Sarah Stauderman from September 1, 2010 through August 31, 2011.


Hacke, Anne Marei, University of Manchester. Investigation into the Effects of Metal Ion Absorption on the Degradation of Protein Fibers and the Potential of Antioxidants for Conservation Treatment, at the Museum Conservation Institute with Mary Ballard and Martha Goodway from September 1, 2006 through February 28, 2007.


Koss, Kerith E., New York University. Conservation and Study of Ceramic Vessels from the Ban Chiang Culture, Thailand in the Collection of the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, at the Freer Gallery of Art/Arthur M. Sackler Gallery with Ellen Chase and Blythe McCarthy from June 1, 2007 through August 31, 2008.


Kubick, Laura C., Winterthur/University of Delaware. A Comparative Study of Methyl Cellulose, Avalure AC 315 Acrylic Copolymer and a Wax-Resin Mixture as Sacrificial Coatings to prevent Damage by Handling and Vandalism for Marble Sculpture in the Museum Setting, at the Smithsonian American Art Museum with Helen Ingalls and Hugh Shockey from September 14, 2010 through September 11, 2011.


Martin, Jeffrey J., New York University. Time-Based Art in the Hirshhorn Museum: A Preservation Assessment and Plan, at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden with Susan Lake from September 1, 2007 through August 31, 2008.


Moomaw, Kate W., New York University and The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Condition Survey and Treatment Development for Works of Art Made of Plastics and Rubber in the Collection of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden with Susan Lake and Museum Conservation Institute with Jennifer Giaccai from September 15, 2010 through March 14, 2012.


O’Banion, Stephen. Winterthur/University of Delaware. Implementing a Framework for Artist Interviews, at the Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden with Ryan Gwynne from September 1, 2012 through September 30, 2014.


Owczarek, Nina S., New York University. Treatment and Study of Objects in the Walt Disney-Tishman African Art Collection at the National Museum of African Art, at the National Museum of African Art with Steven Mellor and Stephanie Hornbeck from October 15, 2006 through January 31, 2008.


Polidori, Elisabetta. National Gallery of Victoria, Australia. Survey of Islamic Art on Paper from the Collections of the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, and Scientific Investigation of a Group, at the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery with Emily Jacobson and Blythe McCarthy from October 1, 2011 to September 30, 2012.


Rogala, Dawn V., Buffalo State College. A Closer Look at the Characteristics and Long-Term Stability of Ground Materials Used in Modern Paintings, at the Museum Conservation Institute with Marion Mecklenburg and Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden with Susan Lake from September 1, 2007 through August 31, 2008.