Head of Textile Conservation – Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco
The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco are comprised of two iconic sites located within San Francisco’s beautiful parks—the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park and the Legion of Honor Museum in Lincoln Park. As the largest public arts institution in the western United States, the Museums house a world-class collection of 151,000 artworks that span more than 5,000 years; present an ambitious schedule of more than 10 exhibitions per year; welcome 1.5 million visitors in a typical year; and are supported by 100,000 member households across the Bay Area and beyond—one of the largest art museum memberships in the United States.
To redefine the Fine Arts Museums as a forum that stimulates community and visitor
conversations and explorations by applying inclusive and equitable perspectives to our
collections and the histories they embody, and to support our staff to realize their
potential in an inclusive and equitable workplace.
Values we Aspire to:
Diverse, Inclusive, Equitable, Accessible, Welcoming, Engaging, Insightful, Inspiring, Reliable, Creative, Generous, Fun
About the role:
Reporting to the Director of Conservation, plans and directs the work of the Textile Conservation Department. Responsible for departmental activities and procedures related to the preservation, technical study, and conservation of more than 13,000 costume and textile artworks in the permanent collection of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, as well as duties related to temporary exhibitions and the lending of textiles and costumes to other institutions. Supports and promotes the departmental team and the museum’s mission. Fosters a diverse, inclusive, equitable and healthy work environment.
What you’ll do:
- Departmental leadership and supervision. Is responsible for the efficient operation of the Textile Conservation Lab, working collaboratively across many departments to set costume and textile arts conservation priorities, to carry out treatments and to meet project goals and deadlines. Supervises the department’s staff, including interns, fellows and volunteers, and promotes the professional development of the team.
- Examination, treatment and documentation. Guides and undertakes research and examination of the condition, materials and techniques of textiles and costume. Evaluates deterioration, alteration and questions of authenticity and attribution. Is proficient with multiple methods of examination and documentation, including microscopic analysis, X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy, and digital photography. Supervises and conducts highly skilled conservation treatments. Maintains written and photographic conservation documentation.
- Preventive Conservation. Works collaboratively across departments to implement appropriate preventive conservation practices in the display, storage, handling and transport of artworks. Assesses costume and textile storage and provides guidance on rehousing and storage planning. Guides integrated pest management measures.
- Loan processing and exhibitions work. Evaluates potential loans and exhibitions with regard to treatment and mounting needs, environmental specifications and other special requirements. Oversees installations as needed. Undertakes condition reporting for incoming, outgoing, and traveling exhibitions. Supervises the processing of incoming and outgoing loans. Assigns and performs courier duties as necessary.
- Scholarship and Outreach. Contributes to the understanding and interpretation of museum objects through technical and scientific research. Works closely with curators and other stakeholders to foster an understanding of the cultural contexts of materials and the philosophy and ethics of conservation practice. Responds to inquiries from scholars and the general public. Conducts tours and gives lectures. Shares work through publications, exhibitions, digital content and social media.
- Professional engagement. Keeps informed of current techniques and research by attending conferences and courses, staying abreast of conservation literature, and maintaining a professional network that is leveraged to further the work of the institution. Has an established reputation as a strong leader and contributor to the field of conservation.
- Fiscal management. With the Development department and the Director of Conservation, works to raise funds for the Costume and Textile Arts Conservation department and for specific projects. Prepares the annual department budget in collaboration with the Finance Department.
What you’ll bring:
- Master’s Degree in Art Conservation with a specialization in costume and textile arts.
- At least ten years post-graduate museum experience.
- Expert knowledge of conservation methods, techniques, procedures and ethics related to the maintenance and care of a museum collection of costume and textile arts.
- Advanced knowledge of textile and costume history, connoisseurship, and history of textile techniques as related to the conservation of textiles and costume from all periods—ancient to modern.
- Advanced knowledge of best practices for and new advancements in costume and textiles mounting and exhibition display.
- Expert skill in performing a wide variety of conservation procedures with manual dexterity, strong visual acuity and sensitivity to materials. Able to develop innovative solutions for the treatment and installation of challenging artworks.
- General knowledge of chemical and physical properties of textile materials, conservation materials and deterioration processes of both.
- Proficiency in the use of scientific instrumentation, digital photography and technical imaging to examine and document works of art.
- Demonstrated strength in developing and managing project workflows, budgets and timelines.
- Proficiency in mentorship and teaching the fundamentals of conservation.
- Experience in planning and implementation of preventive conservation measures.
- Experience in collection management systems
- Familiarity with emergency preparedness and response.
- Excellent research capabilities.
- Ability to exercise sound judgment, tact and diplomacy.
- Excellent organizational, writing and communication skills.
COFAM is committed to advancing career opportunities for a diverse pool of qualified and capable talent, centering equity and inclusion across all aspects of our recruitment strategy.
COFAM is the Corporation of Fine Arts Museums and is the privately funded non-profit corporation which supports the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, a department of the City and County of San Francisco.
COFAM is proud to be an equal opportunity employer and is committed to a policy of nondiscrimination in all phases of employment in accordance with all federal, state, and local laws. Pursuant to the San Francisco Fair Chance Ordinance, we will consider for employment qualified applicants with arrest and conviction records.
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