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New internship supports diversity in art conservation

​Queen’s, National Gallery of Canada partner to engage students from Indigenous, Black, and other cultural communities in art conservation and restoration.

A partnership between Queen’s University and the National Gallery of Canada is aimed at engaging Indigenous and Black students, and students from other cultural communities from across Canada in art conservation and restoration.

The National Gallery of Canada’s Diversity Internship, initiated by Stephen Gritt, NGC Director of Conservation and Technical Research, and in partnership with the Queen’s Art Conservation Program, allows four students to prepare for their studies after their acceptance into the graduate program at the university.=

Queen’s offers the only Master’s in Art Conservation program in Canada. Each intern will be provided with a $25,000 bursary and a placement in Ottawa in the summer prior to their first semester. The internships are funded by an anonymous philanthropist.

Diversity in art conservation is a special focus for Patricia Smithen, Director of the Art Conservation Program at Queen’s, so when she was presented with an opportunity to support future Black, Indigenous and people of color conservators at the entry level, she was delighted to play an important role.

“The goals are to give students a unique and welcoming entry into the field of conservation, provide mentorship which would support them throughout their careers and give them the best opportunity for success at graduate school and beyond,” says Dr. Smithen.

Interns will have the opportunity to learn about the complexities of conservation and restoration work, including research, technical examination, and the historic and ethical dimensions of interaction with art and artefacts. From three to five months, they will be paired with various experts from the National Gallery’s Restoration and Conservation Laboratory and will follow them in their daily work as observers.

They will also be introduced to Conservation Science and broader heritage preservation issues at the Canadian Conservation Institute, also in Ottawa. The students will also visit Queen’s for a week of activity – most likely to work on a mini-project.

“Like many professions within the museum field, conservation is a discipline which can greatly benefit from different perspectives from various fields of study, and different voices from diverse backgrounds and cultures,” says Stephen Gritt. “The National Gallery of Canada is happy to partner with Queen’s University in this effort. This is a natural fit.