By Terrell Lipscomb, Staff Reporter
The lack of diversity in art conservation is a concern for museums nationwide. An advanced degree is essential for this work and applicants to the few graduate degree programs that exist typically have completed a range of prerequisite courses in science, art history and studio art, along with almost 1,000 hours of internship training, usually unpaid.
Graduate program administrators say these realities have produced a conservation field that is neither equitable nor culturally diverse, an assessment that is confirmed by data.
One example is the Mellon Foundation’s Art Museum Staff Demographic Surveys of 2015 and 2018 that show conservation as one of the least diverse areas in the museum field. An internship through Getty’s Post-Baccalaureate Conservation aims to change that.
Only three students were selected nationwide to join the Getty Post-Baccalaureate Internship. Kiera Hammond, a Howard graduate student, was one of the three students to be admitted into the program.
“Through the Getty’s internship, I hope to gain an opportunity to connect to something much more significant than myself for the enrichment and enhancement of the Black community,” Hammond said.
The Getty’s Post-Baccalaureate Conservation is creating new opportunities for minorities in this field. Their internship program is open to students of all nationalities, the only requirement being that they are pursuing a Master of Arts. Students are being granted $30,000 for 12 months of work, plus $1,000 for relocation expenses. It will take place in Los Angeles, and students will be given a free health care plan.
A survey released on July 29, 2015, confirmed what most already knew: African Americans are greatly under-represented in mainstream art museums as directors, curators, conservators, and educators. Whites occupy 84% of such positions; Asians 6%; Blacks 4%, and Hispanics 3%.
Interns through this program are looking to increase the number of minorities represented in this field. They will be trained and offered work experience in areas such as curatorial, education, conservation, research, publications, information management, public programs and grantmaking.
Getty’s graduate internships are offered in the four programs of the J. Paul Getty Trust—the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Getty Research Institute, the Getty Conservation Institute, and the Getty Foundation, as well as in Getty Publications—to graduate students who intend to pursue careers in the visual arts.
“This new program seeks to reduce the very real barriers to professional careers in conservation faced by many students of color,” Tim Whalen, John E. and Louise Bryson Director of the Getty Conservation Institute, said.