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Published on March 20, 2023

Conservator – Paintings, Modern and Contemporary Art

The challenge

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts is seeking to fill the position of Conservator – Paintings, Modern and Contemporary Art. Reporting to the Head of Conservation, this person will be responsible for successfully carrying out the activities associated with this specialized area of the Conservation Department. In particular, their tasks will involve acquisitions, loan requests, the preparation and mounting of exhibitions, and the collaborative management of the laboratory by coordinating the activities of the preventive conservation technicians.

The successful candidate will be responsible for:

  • Carrying out and coordinating tests, research and preliminary scientific analyses with respect to the conservation of modern and contemporary paintings and, on occasion, pre-modern paintings in the MMFA’s collection.
  • Successfully carrying out conservation and restoration work on artworks, by employing industry-recognized techniques and materials.
  • Drafting technical reports on the treatments performed and on observations relating to the condition of artworks that are the subject of acquisitions, temporary exhibitions and loans.
  • Providing information to the curators about the identification, materials and techniques, authenticity and condition of paintings, as well as of, in collaboration with the Conservator – Decorative Arts and Sculptures, polychrome objects that are the subject of historical research.
  • Taking part in the preparation and mounting of exhibitions showcasing said objects, in particular by making recommendations as to presentation materials and methods to be used for single two-dimensional works, such as unfixed canvases.
  • Guiding and supervising the work of support staff, in particular with respect to packaging, placing works in storage and preventive conservation.
  • Examining, analyzing and assessing the level of deterioration of the Museum’s artworks, and recommending treatments to stabilize them, while also enhancing their aesthetic quality.
  • Carrying out conservation and restoration treatments on the MMFA’s paintings that contain polymer adhesives and oils on canvas, wood or any other rigid or semi-rigid support, using industry-recognized treatment techniques; on an occasional basis, taking part in the conservation and restoration of polychrome sculptures.
  • Examining paintings using various technical procedures, such as ultraviolet or infrared photography; knowing how to analyze the results of X-ray and microscopic tests of pigments and canvases in order to determine the age, degree of deterioration, nature of materials and the appropriate treatment to conserve the work effectively.
  • Examining and evaluating the state of conservation of external artworks being lent to or presented in an exhibition at the Museum, and drafting the associated reports; drafting cumulative reports on the status of works in the collection that are part of travelling exhibitions organized by the MMFA or that are being lent to other institutions.
  • Maintaining the equipment needed to perform painting conservation, and recommending the purchase of materials and equipment to meet the needs of the department.
  • Taking part in the development of new restoration and conservation techniques.
  • At the request of the Head of Conservation, advising curators with respect to the identification, authentication and status of artworks that are the subject of historical research or that are being considered for acquisition.
  • Conducting research, sharing their findings and conclusions, and presenting them at regional, national and international conferences; occasionally giving educational lectures to Museum staff or the general public. Having the content of these publications approved by their immediate superior.
  • Taking part in restoration lectures, seminars or other similar gatherings at the regional, national and international levels; staying informed of new techniques in painting conservation as well as of developments and advancements in the field of conservation as a whole.

The successful candidate will possess:

  • A master’s degree in artwork conservation, with a specialization in paintings.
  • At least four (4) years’ experience as an art restorer specialized in Modern and contemporary painting.
  • Sound knowledge of and proficiency with the following techniques and materials:
    • The latest techniques in cleaning painted surfaces (with our without varnish, in aqueous solutions, in solvent systems, etc.)
    • Structural painting conservation techniques (reduction of planar deformations, reinforcement of edges and original supports, tear reparation, relining techniques using synthetic adhesives, consolidation of wooden supports, etc.)
    • Varnish cleaning, removal and regeneration techniques; up-to-date knowledge of the types of natural and synthetic resins to revarnish surfaces in a durable fashion.
    • Retouching materials and techniques, including reconstruction.
  • Excellent organizational skills, team spirit, initiative and creativity
  • The ability to lead a small team of preventive conservation technicians
  • Excellent communication skills in French and English, both oral and written
  • Good command of the Office 2013 suite and database systems

Pursuant to its mission, the MMFA encourages diversity in its teams and invites candidates from all backgrounds with the required skills to apply. Please submit your application to, specifying the job title in the subject line.

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