School of Graduate Studies

School of Graduate Studies
School of Graduate Studies

Art Conservation

Schwartz, J.

Hill, R.

Coordinator of Graduate Studies
Murray, A., Smithen, P.

Associate Professor
Murray, A.

Assistant Professor
Hill, R., Smithen, P.

Cross-Appointed Faculty
Bevan, G.

Adjunct Professor
Burns, T., Graham, F., Klempan, B., Paul, N., Shurvell, H.F. (Gus), Spirydowicz, K., Waller, R., Williams, S.

Departmental Facilities

The Department of Art History and Art Conservation offers, at the graduate level, the M.A.C. in Art Conservation, and the Ph.D. and the M.A. in Art History. At the undergraduate level, the Department offers the B.A.(Hons.) degree in Art History.

The art conservation program is an interdisciplinary program that combines academic study and practical work with cultural property in the laboratory and in the museum, art gallery, archive or library. To this end, specially designed laboratories fitted with up to date equipment for a wide range of restoration and conservation activities are annexed to the Agnes Etherington Art Centre. In addition, extensive use is made of the facilities available in the Art Centre, Queen's University Archives, Stauffer Library Special Collections, and collaborating science and engineering departments.

Liaison is also maintained with other Departments in the Humanities, particularly Classics, English, History; with Languages, Literature and Culture, and with the programs in Canadian and in Medieval, Renaissance and Women's studies, so that graduate students may take additional courses in such fields if needed. In the Sciences, interdepartmental liaison is maintained particularly with Chemistry and Physics, which are of interest to the art conservation program.

The Art Library located in the Stauffer Library comprises some 60,000 items (including exhibition catalogues) on all aspects of art history and on art technology, restoration, conservation and exhibition, supplemented by extensive electronic journals and other digital library holdings. The Department holds some 200,000 photographs and 220,000 slides of architecture, painting and sculpture, art technology, restoration, and conservation. Extensive Canadian archival material on art and architecture is also available elsewhere in Stauffer Library and the University Archives.

The Agnes Etherington Art Centre, which has a close working relationship with the Department, offers outstanding collections in select areas of Western and non-Western art for examination and research. Part of the permanent collection is on display at all times; the rest, which is in storage, is available to graduate students by appointment.

Financial Assistance

Apart from national and provincial awards, Graduate Awards may be made by the Department on the basis of merit. Teaching assistantships may be available to students in both the art conservation and art history programs.

Master of Art Conservation

Applicants are accepted under the general regulations of the School of Graduate Studies and should have a four year honours degree or equivalent in the humanities, sciences, or engineering, with a minimum B+ average (or equivalent).

Specific Requirements

  • One full-year, post-secondary course in fine art studio or workshop practice (or equivalent), for treatment programs. 
  • One full-year university course in general chemistry and a one-term university course in organic chemistry, all courses preferably with a laboratory component.
  • Applicants with an undergraduate degree in the humanities must have a minimum of five full-year courses in art history, ethnology, archaeology, or equivalent.
  • Applicants with a science or engineering undergraduate degree must have a minimum of two full-year courses in art history, ethnology, archaeology, or equivalent.
  • Proficiency in English. Applicants whose first language is not English or who have not recently studied for at least one complete year at a post-secondary institution where English is the official language of instruction, will be required to pass an English language proficiency test.
  • Good visual sensitivity and manual skills.
  • Familiarity with digital imaging techniques.
  • Working knowledge of at least one second language is recommended.
  • Experience in conservation is highly recommended.

These are regarded as minimum requirements; preference will be given to candidates who exceed these minimum requirements in any or all of the required subject areas. For example, studies in Museology or Library Science or previous conservation experience would be considered as assets. A working knowledge (reading, writing, speaking) of at least one second language is highly recommended for all applicants. A familiarity with the operation of a DSLR camera is highly recommended.


In the case of exceptional applicants holding a three year B.A., suitable subsequent experience in the field of conservation may be regarded as equivalent qualification.


A limited number of places are available each year. Applicants will be interviewed by the faculty at which time they will be asked to present a portfolio of their work. They also may be required to take an oral, written or practical examination to test aptitude, colour discrimination and manual coordination.

Programs of Study

Treatment options - PATTERN II

Two-year program includes:

  • Four terms of theoretical and practical study on campus: advanced  lecture courses, laboratory work in the conservation of heritage objects, and a research project (ARTC-898); 
  • Two twelve-week, off-campus summer internships.

 Students must choose to specialize in one of the following:

  •    Conservation of paintings;
  •    Conservation of artifacts;
  •    Conservation of paper objects.

Research options - PATTERN I

Programs include:

  1. Four advanced lecture courses, original research, and a thesis (ARTC-899), with no practical treatment component. This mid-career program is open to conservators with a minimum of five years conservation experience. Research will be individually designed to suit the background and interests of students and faculty.
  2. Two-year program is available for science and engineering graduates to carry out research in conservation science.


Examinations will be held for each course. These may be written and/or oral, or in the form of course work evaluation depending on circumstances pertaining to the content of the course. Students must complete all courses scheduled for the first year before being permitted to proceed to the second year of the program.

Pattern I students must defend their thesis (ARTC-899) in an oral thesis examination. The Thesis Examination Committee for Pattern I Master's students in the Art Conservation Program shall comprise at least the following members:

  • Chair of Committee: Head of the Department (or Head's Delegate) (may be from outside Department)
  • Supervisor(s) 
  • At least one other faculty member, who may be: 
    • from the department; OR 
    • external to the department; OR
    • in exceptional circumstances, external to Queen's University.

Course Organization

Courses within the treatment oriented M.A.C. programs are arranged in eight series as follows:

  • ARTC-80- General courses to be taken by all students in treatment oriented streams
  • ARTC-81- History, Technology and Conservation of Artifacts
  • ARTC-82- History, Technology and Conservation of Paintings
  • ARTC-83- History, Technology and Conservation of Paper Objects
  • ARTC-85- Artifact Conservation Practice
  • ARTC-86- Paintings Conservation Practice
  • ARTC-87- Paper Objects Conservation Practice
  • ARTC-89- Thesis or Research Project

The order of offering courses may vary but students will be able to take all the required courses for graduation within a two year period.

General Requirements

During the two years of the program all students in the treatment oriented streams are required to take all courses offered in the ARTC-801 to 809 series and one History, Technology and Conservation course outside the student's area of expertise.


  1. Artifacts: In addition to the General Courses, students in the Artifacts stream are required to take: the three 81- courses in History, Technology and Conservation of Artifacts series and the 85- Artifacts Conservation Practice series.
  2. Paintings: In addition to the General Courses students in the Paintings stream are required to take 82- as well as the 86- Paintings Conservation Practice series.
  3. Paper Objects: In addition to the General Courses, students in the Paper Objects stream are required to take: the three 83- courses in History, Technology and Conservation of Paper Objects series and the 87- Paper Objects Conservation Practice series.
  4. Research Students in the Pattern I Research Program will pursue a program of study individually suited to the candidate's background and area of specialization. Students may be directed to take one or more courses in other departments. Also, the program and research topic will be agreed upon prior to admission to the program.

Auditing of Courses

With the permission of the course instructor and of the supervisor of his or her area of specialization, students may be allowed to audit courses in History, Technology and Conservation in the other areas of specialization, (81-, 82-, 83- series). This is intended to broaden the student's understanding of problems and methods across the whole field of conservation.

Program Related Costs

Students will incur the following costs over the two years of the Program:
- Required texts will cost in the range of $800.
- Internship costs may vary, depending on the student’s choice of location.
- Purchase of a personal computer is optional but highly recommended.
-The research project (ARTC-898) may cost approximately $250.