About the Program
The dual award of Master of Arts in Conservation of Art and Cultural Heritage, and Master of Science in Conservation Science and Imaging prepares students for careers as professional conservators caring for works of artistic, historical, and cultural significance. The three-year program is inter- and cross-disciplinary with an educational balance between theory and practice. The instruction provides students with a broad background in conservation treatment, imaging, and science in their first year. In the second year, students continue taking imaging and science courses and specialize in objects, paintings, or paper conservation (and its subspecialties, book and photograph conservation). The third year is a 12-month internship at a museum, library, archive or other cultural heritage institution under the mentorship of a professional conservator, where students further practice the information and knowledge acquired on campus and continue learning in a professional setting.
Educational and Career Objectives
The M.A./M.S. in Conservation of Art and Cultural Heritage, and Conservation Science and Imaging values the multi-disciplinary nature of scientific and imaging analysis with that of conservation theory and practice. The M.A. portion of the dual award is focused on conservation treatment practice and ethics; and, the M.S. is focused on the science (chemistry, physics and materials science) and imaging (optics, industrial photography and computational photography) required for the examination, characterization, documentation and display/storage of cultural materials.
The educational goals and career objectives are to provide the arts, humanities and cultural heritage sectors with well-educated, highly qualified, and responsible conservators. Graduates are ready for positions in museums, libraries, archives, and/or regional conservation centers.
About the Art Conservation Department
230 Rockwell Hall
1300 Elmwood Ave
Buffalo, NY 14222
Phone: (716) 878-5025
Fax: (716) 878-5039
The Garman Art Conservation Department practices a holistic admissions process that relies on multiple criteria to identify the most promising candidates. We do not require submission of GRE scores. We are committed to equity in the admissions process and our requirements and criteria for assessment are explained below. Please note: these requirements were updated in February 2022.
1.) Applicants must have an undergraduate degree with a GPA of at least 2.8, as evidenced by official transcripts from accredited institutions of higher education.
2.) Applicants must have satisfactorily completed course work in the three areas below. Please note that the required course credits are given in semester credit hours. To translate quarter hours to semester hour equivalents, multiply by 2/3. For example, 6 quarter hours are equal to 4 semester hours.
A grade for each class must appear, except for some qualifying studio art and craft courses (see 2c. below). We may request catalog descriptions or syllabi to determine if a course meets the requirements. For courses taken Spring 2020 and later, pass/fail grades will be accepted. For courses in progress at the time of application, please provide evidence of enrollment with your application.
2a.) Art History, Cultural Heritage & Archaeology: 18 Semester Credit Hours
Course distribution: Qualifying courses include art history, archaeology, and classics and anthropology courses that focus on artifacts. Must include 9 credits of Art History coursework.
This requirement ensures exposure to and understanding of a wide array of artistic, cultural, and historic works, as well as critical thinking and writing skills.
2b.) Chemistry: 16 Semester Credit Hours
Course distribution: Must include two semesters of introductory/general chemistry with labs and two semesters of organic chemistry with labs. Courses for non-science majors will not be accepted.
This requirement ensures applicants have the necessary chemistry background including familiarity with laboratory skills, equipment and techniques, and the scientific grounding for advanced content in each conservation specialty.
Note: In-person laboratory courses are required, however, if your education was affected by the pandemic (Spring 2020 through Spring 2022), online courses will be accepted.
2c.) Studio Art and Craft: 12 Semester Credit Hours or equivalent (see note below)
Course distribution: Hands-on courses that preferably include both two-dimensional and three-dimensional arts and crafts, such as drawing, painting, sculpting, printmaking, book binding, jewelry and metalwork, textiles, ceramics, calligraphy, wood working, glass blowing, papermaking, etc.
We also accept equivalent formal studio courses taught at museums and community centers. Each course should provide approximately 70 hours of studio time. Please submit documentation including institution name, course description, and course duration; no grade submission is required.
The intent of this requirement is to demonstrate fine hand/motor skills, manual dexterity, and a familiarity with materials and techniques. Courses in techniques and media such as computer graphics, photography and abstract or expressionist art, do not convincingly demonstrate manual skills.
Note: Hands-on studio courses are required, however, if your education was affected by the pandemic (Spring 2020 through Spring 2022), online courses will be accepted.
3.) Portfolio of studio art and craft: Works in both two and three dimensions are preferred. Works submitted do not have to be the result of formal studio courses.
Please submit 7-10 artworks and/or crafts with a cover sheet detailing the following information for each work:
3a.) Title (if any), media and support (include all materials and techniques employed), year created
3b.) A brief description of the context under which the artwork was created (academic course, independent project, etc.)
3c.) How the work shows your skill or proficiency with the particular materials and/or techniques. Include detailed images where appropriate. Please bear in mind that some techniques and media, such as computer graphics, photography and abstract or expressionist artworks, do not convincingly demonstrate manual skills.
This requirement demonstrates your hand skills and communicates your mastery of materials and techniques to the selection committee. A high level of manual proficiency is necessary to learn and perform refined conservation treatments and scientific analyses.
4.) Curriculum Vitae (C.V.): Please follow the American Institute for Conservation (AIC) Emerging Conservation Professionals Network (ECPN) Guidelines available here. https://www.conservation-wiki.com/wiki/Resume_and_Curriculum_Vitae
5.) Personal Statement: Please provide a 1,000-word statement explaining why you are pursuing art conservation as a career, your strengths, your interest in the graduate-level education provided by the Garman Art Conservation Department, and how such training relates to your personal objectives.
6.) Conservation experience: Hands-on experience working under the guidance of a professional conservator at a museum, library, archive, regional center, and/or in a private conservation practice is very highly recommended. Direct conservation experience is helpful in developing hand skills and gaining familiarity with the field before committing to a graduate program. Projects that involve re-housing collections, database work, and other museum/library/archives tasks are also useful experiences. We recognize that access to on-site opportunities is currently limited and that unpaid internships are a significant barrier to entering the field.
7.) Letters of Recommendation: Please submit (only) three letters of recommendation. Two letters must be from conservators and/or allied professionals who can indicate your level of experience and likelihood of future success in the field of conservation. One must be from a professor or other academic reference who can speak to your academic ability and likelihood of success in an intensive graduate program. We recognize that some applicants may have difficulty obtaining an academic reference and in such cases a reference from a professional or supervisor will be accepted.
8.) Applicants for whom English is a second language must submit a score of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), or Duolingo English Test as documentation of English language proficiency. Applicants with a minimum TOEFL score of 550 or higher on the paper exam or 79 on the Internet exam, an IELTS score of 6.0 or higher, or a Duolingo score of 100 or higher may be considered for admission.
For further information, please refer to the Graduate School's Information for International Applicants.
In addition, all applicants should review the Admission to a Graduate Program section in this catalog.
Completed admission applications must be received by the department office no later than January 7 of the year in which admission is sought.
1. Historical Perspective & Cultural Context: Have a judicious understanding of the inextricable relevance of history, art history, cultural context with the contemporary perspectives of the object’s medium/media, aesthetic value, production methods and place of origin, and its relationship to the object’s ‘life time journey’, including previous conservation and restoration treatments and current condition.
2. Critical thinking & Problem Solving: To have the competency of integrating and synthesizing data and information from a multitude of sources of an historic or artistic work or collection of cultural objects to creatively plan sound conservation and restoration approaches. To adapt to work situations and conditions, and to innovate when necessary to successfully plan and execute conservation and restoration treatments.
3. Critical thinking & Problem Solving: To have the competency of integrating and synthesizing data and information from a multitude of sources of an historic or artistic work or collection of cultural objects to creatively plan sound conservation and restoration approaches. To adapt to work situations and conditions, and to innovate when necessary to successfully plan and execute conservation and restoration treatments.
4. Scientific Analysis: To master scientific instrumentation to examine and analyze aspects of condition and method of manufacture of historic and artistic works and cultural objects to be conserved and restored. To critically analyze scientific/technical data and derive useful information for use in the development of sound conservation treatment options.
5. Craftsmanship & Hand skills: Demonstrate a high level of competence in the skills requiring eye-hand coordination and manual dexterity for detailed work and finish using a wide range of tools, techniques, and processes to conserve and restore historic and artistic works and cultural objects from beginning to end.
6. Professional Conduct & Ethical Behavior: Understanding the Code of Ethics and Guidelines for Practice of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works; functional knowledge and practical information on public relations; portfolio development for internships and future jobs; how to interview; and contribution to the profession’s body of information through publication and presentations of case studies and/or research.
Total Required M.A. Courses (46 credit hours)
Required M.A. Courses (41 credit hours)
CNS 620 TECHNOLOGY AND CONSERVATION OF PAINTINGS I 2
CNS 621 TECHNOLOGY AND CONSERVATION OF PAINTINGS 1 (LAB) 1
CNS 622 TECHNOLOGY AND CONSERVATION OF PAINTINGS II 2
CNS 623 TECHNOLOGY AND CONSERVATION OF PAINTINGS II LABORATORY 1
CNS 625 TECHNOLOGY AND CONSERVATION OF PAINTING III LABORATORY 1
CNS 630 TECHNOLOGY & CONSERVATION OF WORKS OF ART ON PAPER I 2
CNS 631 TECHNOLOGY & CONSERVATION OF WORKS OF ART ON PAPER I LABORATORY 1
CNS 632 TECHNOLOGY AND CONSERVATION OF WORKS OF ART ON PAPER II 2
CNS 633 TECHNOLOGY AND CONSERVATION OF WORKS OF ART ON PAPER II LABORATORY 1
CNS 635 TECHNOLOGY AND CONSERVATION OF WORKS OF ART ON PAPER III LABORATORY 1
CNS 640 TECHNOLOGY AND CONSERVATION OF OBJECTS I 2
CNS 641 TECHNOLOGY AND CONSERVATION OF OBJECTS I LABORATORY 1
CNS 642 TECHNOLOGY AND CONSERVATION OF OBJECTS II 2
CNS 643 TECHNOLOGY AND CONSERVATION OF OBJECTS II LABORATORY 1
CNS 645 TECHNOLOGY AND CONSERVATION OF OBJECTS III LAB 1
CNS 685 SPECIAL TOPICS IN CONSERVATION I 1
CNS 686 SPECIAL TOPICS IN CONSERVATION II 1
CNS 694 MASTER'S PROJECT I 1
CNS 695 MASTER'S PROJECT II 3
CNS 699 INTERNSHIP 12
CNS 698 INTERNSHIP SUSTAINING (Grade recorded as NR-not required.) 0
Electives (5 credit hours, select one pair)
CNS 624 TECHNOLOGY AND CONSERVATION OF PAINTINGS III SEMINAR
& CNS 626 TECHNOLOGY AND CONSERVATION OF PAINTINGS IV (5)
CNS 634 TECHNOLOGY AND CONSERVATION OF WORKS OF ART ON PAPER III SEMINAR
& CNS 636 TECHNOLOGY AND CONSERVATION OF WORKS OF ART ON PAPER IV (5)
CNS 644 TECHNOLOGY AND CONSERVATION OF OBJECTS III
& CNS 646 TECHNOLOGY AND CONSERVATION OF OBJECTS IV (5)
Total Required M.S. Courses 31
Required M.S. Courses (31 credit hours)
CNS 600 CONSERVATION IMAGING: TECHNICAL EXAMINATION AND DOCUMENTATION I 2
CNS 601 CONSERVATION IMAGING: TECHNICAL EXAMINATION AND DOCUMENTATION LAB I 1
CNS 602 CONSERVATION IMAGING: TECHNICAL EXAMINATION AND DOCUMENTATION II 2
CNS 603 CONSERVATION IMAGING: TECHNICAL EXAMINATION AND DOCUMENTATION LAB II 1
CNS 604 CONSERVATION IMAGING: TECHNICAL EXAMINATION AND DOCUMENTATION III 2
CNS 605 CONSERVATION IMAGING: TECHNICAL EXAMINATION AND DOCUMENTATION LAB III 1
CNS 606 CONSERVATION IMAGING: TECHNICAL EXAMINATION AND DOCUMENTATION IV 2
CNS 607 CONSERVATION IMAGING: TECHNICAL EXAMINATION AND DOCUMENTATION LAB IV 1
Conservation Science (CS)
CNS 610 POLYMERS IN ART & CONSERVATION 3
CNS 611 POLYMERS IN ART & CONSERVATION (LAB) 1
CNS 612 CONSERVATION SCIENCE: POLARIZED LIGHT MICROSCOPY, LIGHT & MATTER 2
CNS 613 CONSERVATION SCIENCE: POLARIZED LIGHT MICROSCOPY, LIGHT & MATTER LABORATORY 1
CNS 614 CONSERVATION SCIENCE: INORGANIC MATERIALS IN ART AND CONSERVATION 3
CNS 615 CONSERVATION SCIENCE: INORGANIC MATERIALS IN ART & CONSERVATION LABORATORY 1
CNS 616 TECHNICAL ASPECTS OF PREVENTATIVE CONSERVATION 3
CNS 617 TECHNICAL ASPECTS OF PREVENTATIVE CONSERVATION (LAB) 1
CNS 685 SPECIAL TOPICS IN CONSERVATION I *1
CNS 686 SPECIAL TOPICS IN CONSERVATION II *1
Total Credit Hours M.A./M.S. Program 77
* CNS 685 and CNS 686 are taken twice for 1 credit hour each for a total of 4 credit hours that are applied to both the M.A. degree and the M.S. degree.