Kickstart your conservation career with an internship
An Icon internship can help anyone looking to start a career in conservation, or to build on their studies and experience.
Icon works with partners to run conservation internships that are fully funded and underpinned by Icon’s Professional Standards. Most placements are for 12 months, but internships can vary from six months to two years.
Icon Conservation Internship Project funded by Heritage Lottery Fund
Between 2006 and 2015, Icon administered a highly successful work-based training bursary scheme in the UK. It was funded by a £2.45m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, with over £1m additional funding from partners and hosts. The scheme, ‘New routes to learning through work-based training’, saw 146 internships secured across 38 conservation disciplines.
A short film about the Icon/HLF internships 2006-2015
External evaluation of the HLF-funded internship scheme (October 2015):
Photo: Matt Wreford
About the programme
Conservation of Leather [and Collections Care], 12-month internship
- Location: The Leather Conservation Centre [and The International Museum of Leathercraft] in Northampton, UK
- Bursary: £16,000pa
- Supervisor: Yvette Fletcher ACR
The placement offers an opportunity to work on a wide range of historic objects made wholly or partly of leather and its related materials. The intern will be involved in all aspects of conservation, including condition assessments and conservation proposals as well as practical treatments.
The time spent working with the IMOLC collection will develop experience in collections care including condition reports for individual items and groups of objects, prioritising conservation options, environmental monitoring, packaging and mounting for both storage and display.
Specific training and work-based activities will include:
- A range of conservation treatments from preventive conservation to more interventive treatments
- Leather chemistry and historic technology
- Understanding of leather and its deterioration
- Collections care
The Leather Conservation Centre
The Leather Conservation Centre is a major international centre for leather conservation, education and research. It offers a comprehensive service in the conservation and restoration of leather objects of historic, cultural and artistic importance for national and local museums, historic houses, libraries and private clients.
The International Museum of Leathercraft
The International Museum of Leathercraft is one of the finest collections of historic and contemporary items made of leather in the world. It is a collection that richly illustrates how important leather has been in society across the world over a millennium and, in particular, over the last five hundred years.
This internship is suitable to applicants with a recognised conservation qualification. Candidates need to be enthusiastic with excellent manual skills. Leather objects usually also involve other materials such as wood, metal or textile. Therefore, some experience of working with mixed media objects is desirable
Please apply using the application form.
Closing date: 6 December 2015
Interviews will be held on: 18 December 2015
Internship will commence: 11 January 2016
About the programme
The Icon Internship Programme
The Icon Internship Programme (IIP) is based on our Professional Standards, which ensures that the intern makes demonstrable progress throughout their placement.
For every internship we administer, Icon will set up an agreement with the host to cover:
- Recruitment and selection of the intern
- Induction and regular monitoring visits from Icon-appointed intern advisers to support the intern and the supervisor
- A quarterly reports structure, supporting the intern’s professional development
- Bursary payments on receipt of reports
- Networking opportunities
- Ongoing evaluation
Download our internship leaflet for more information.
Hosting an internship
Hosting an internship can be a rewarding experience for any heritage or conservation organisation.
Please see below for our downloadable documents on hosting and funding an internship.
If you are interested in hosting an internship, please email our professional development manager: firstname.lastname@example.org.
and where they are now
Preventive Conservation, Norfolk Museums (HLF-funded), 2014-15
After completing a BA in Ancient History at Cardiff University I studied the Conservation of Archaeological and Museum Objects MA at Durham University. This two-year course gave me the skills to work as an archaeological and museum conservator, including researching, analysing, cleaning, preserving, and caring for a broad range of objects.
I then volunteered at two National Trust properties and at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery for several months. I was delighted to be offered the Icon internship in Preventive Conservation at the Norfolk Museums Service.
So far I have been involved with:
- two temporary exhibitions de-installs
- preparing objects for temporary loans
- dealing with an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) emergency
- developing an IPM plan for the Norwich Castle Museum “The Wonder of Birds” exhibition undertaking remedial conservation work on taxidermy bird specimens and silver vervels
- In December, I am attending an emergency planning and practical salvage course.
Textiles Conservation, Textile Conservation Ltd (HLF-funded), 2014-15
In 2013 I graduated from the University of Lincoln with a BA in Conservation and Restoration. During my course I completed a six-week placement at the National Trust Textile Conservation Studio. After graduating I worked on a modern tapestry conservation project at Portcullis House, Palace of Westminster. I also volunteered at The Museum of Cambridge.
It was a privilege to be offered this Icon internship with Textile Conservation Limited, Bristol. I am working alongside a small, friendly team of professional conservators who come from a range of backgrounds and specialisms. Our customers include historic houses, museums and private clients.
So far, I have gained new practical skills and experience, such as costume mounting, tapestry conservation and project planning.
Furniture Conservation, Tankerdale Ltd (HLF-funded), 2014-15
I studied History of Art at the University of York then Conservation at City & Guilds of London Art School (C&G). Studying at York, I had the chance to work at Castle Howard which gave me an insight into the day-to-day running of an important historic house. While at C&G, I developed an interest in painted wood and decided to focus on the conservation of polychrome objects. Since graduating, I have gained experience working on polychrome sculpture at SRAL, Maastricht in Holland, at IRPA in Brussels and latterly at the CRRCOA in Vesoul, France.
During my Icon internship I am focusing on the conservation of decorative surfaces on furniture, learning finishing techniques for wood surfaces and gaining experience working on a variety of decorative finishes. I have already taken part in a variety of conservation treatments from treating a woodworm-damaged dolphin to cleaning ormolu lilies in a bath.
Book Collection Care, Caroline Bendix (HLF-funded), 2014-15
After a bachelor degree in Conservation Science at the University of Tuscia in Viterbo, where I studied diagnostic for cultural heritage, I took an MA in Conservation of Book and Paper Materials at the University of Palermo. I also did an internship of one year in a laboratory of book and archive conservation that gave me the opportunity to improve my skills by working on individual items.
I started my one-year Icon internship in book collection care with Caroline Bendix at the end of April 2014.
I was given the opportunity to work in a wide variety of projects around the UK as my supervisor is freelance and an advisor for the National Trust and NADFAS. I have taken part in surveys, conservation in-situ treatments, preventive conservation, packing and moving, books and shelving assessment, handling and security projects with several institutes, national conservation bodies and private collections.
I wanted to do the internship to improve my skills and knowledge in preventive conservation and in book collections care in order to become a fully-rounded book conservator. I would like to thank Icon and HLF for this great opportunity!
Joanna Holt Farndale
Preventive Conservation, Horniman Museum and Gardens (HLF-funded) 2014-15
I began an internship in Preventive Conservation at the Horniman Museum & Gardens at the end of April 2014.
I previously worked in theatre as a stage manager, before retraining and graduating from London Metropolitan University with a BSc (Hons) Conservation and Restoration in 2009.
During my time at London Metropolitan University, I volunteered at the Old Operating Theatre Museum. After I graduated I worked as a Project Conservator at the Science Museum. I then took a volunteer placement in Preventive Conservation at the Horniman Museum, which sparked my interest in Preventive Conservation. I then completed a Project Conservator role at the Horniman before moving on to a short-term contract at the British Library in Preventive Conservation. I have been working towards my MA Conservation of Historic Objects at the University of Lincoln by distance learning, which I plan to complete in 2015.
I would like to thank Icon, HLF and the Horniman for offering me the opportunity to undertake this internship. I'm looking forward to developing my interest in preventive conservation in order to be able to contribute to the work of museum conservation departments.
Marta Garcia Celma
Paper, Photographic and Preventive Conservation, RCAHMS (HLF-funded, 2014-15)
I studied Fine Arts at the University of Barcelona in Spain followed by a specialisation in Photographs at WDKA, Rotterdam. I then joined the two-year MA Conservation program at Camberwell College of Arts, where I specialised in Paper Conservation. At the same time, I took part in volunteer placements at the Museum of London, Victoria & Albert Museum and Wellcome Trust, and worked briefly for The National Archives. I also attended a broad number of conferences and workshops in conservation of photographic materials.
My one-year Icon internship in photographic materials, paper and preventive conservation at the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland began in April 2014.
For the duration of the placement, I have been involved in paper and photographic conservation for two days a week, preventive conservation for two days a week and professional development for the final day of the week. I have taken part in workshops in the conservation of photographs and pest management as well as visiting other institutions and studios.
I took part in the internship because I hoped to open my network in conservation as well as gain experience in salvage plans, collaborate actively in the field and to gain the confidence needed to work without supervision. I would like to thank Icon and HLF for the opportunity, and my supervisors at RCAHMS for their incredible mentoring.
Costume Mounting, Manchester City Galleries
I studied for a degree in Embroidery at Manchester Metropolitan University and then volunteered to work on the costume collection at Touchstones Art and Heritage Centre. I then started a two-year internship with the Manchester City Galleries as a Costume Mounting Technician. Based at Queen's Park Conservation Studios, I am practising and developing methods, standards and techniques needed to display and care for fashion, textiles and historic dress within the collections.
As well as developing a wider understanding required for the long-term care of these objects, I have gained a depth of knowledge and understanding of a wide range of period and contemporary dress. So far I have covered a range of techniques including selecting, mounting and covering a mannequin, producing suitable petticoats, crinolines and underpinnings and studying the appropriate stance, shape and style of a particular period. I have also covered issues of handling, packaging and transport and have been introduced to the practice of remedial textile conservation techniques.
During my internship so far I have gained experience in mounting and assisting with the install of two costume exhibitions: Cotton Couture at Manchester Art Gallery and Something Blue: Wedding Dresses 1914-2014 at Platt Hall. I have attended training days such as an integrated pest management workshop. I am able to contribute to curatorial discussions and provide information to aid design and schedule meetings.
Textile Conservation, Historic Royal Palaces (HLF-funded, 2014-15)
I previously studied for a Foundation Diploma in Fashion & Textile Design before undertaking a BA in History of Art and Museum Studies. In 2014 I graduated with an MPhil in Textile Conservation from the University of Glasgow. While studying, I took work experience placements at the V&A and National Trust.
I began my one-year internship in textile conservation at Historic Royal Palaces in October 2014.
Based within the Conservation and Collections Care department at Hampton Court Palace, I spent the first six months within the tapestry conservation studio before moving to the furnishings conservation team. These provided me with an invaluable opportunity to experience at first hand the specialised techniques employed to conserve HRP's collection of historically significant and unique royal tapestries and furnishing textiles.
My principal independent projects are the stitched treatment of a late 19th-century Verdure tapestry and the conservation of an early 18th-century needlepoint chair cover. I also assisted with on-site condition audits of the objects on display as well as the installation and de-installation of tapestries in the Great Hall and Queen's Privy Chamber as part of the team.
Preventive Conservation, Bute Memorial Fund/National Trust for Scotland
I completed a degree in the Conservation of Archaeological and Museum Objects and then a Masters Degree in the study of new technologies for the conservation of historic buildings. The University of Vigo then offered me an internship, which involved a programme of research about new non-destructive methods of removing salts from granite.
After completing this experience, I then decided to expand my knowledge in preventive conservation. I began my internship with the National Trust for Scotland in the middle of October 2014.
My duties include the monitoring and control of light, environmental conditions and the safe storage and display of collections, as well as communication and advocacy for the NTS' Collections Conservation department. I am learning about strategic planning and the conservation dimension of organisation objectives, gaining experience of the procedures for loans in and out of the organisation and about the issues arising from contemporary art installations and exhibitions.
Maria Pardos Mansilla
Textile Conservation, Bowes Museum (HLF-funded 2014-15)
I started a year's internship in textile conservation at the Bowes Museum in October 2014. During that time I have been involved in the conservation and assessment of several textile objects as well as in different projects regarding the improvement of storage and display spaces, pest and environmental control and collaboration with other museums.
I have also been involved in the preparation, install and de-install of exhibitions such as Birds of Paradise: Plumes & Feathers in Fashion, Yves Saint Laurent: Style is Eternal and Common Grounds: Lace Drawn from the Everyday at Bowes, as well as Women Fashion Power at the Design Museum.
My career in conservation began in Spain where I studied painting conservation at ESCRBC in Aragon. After a few years working in the field of conservation around the country with several kinds of objects (painting, metal, ceramic and stone) I became more interested in textiles as an object in itself and not just as a support.
I studied Textiles Conservation at ESCRBC Mariano Timon, the only textile conservation teaching centre in Spain. I also completed a Master's at Pablo de Olavide University in Seville.
This internship means I can work with unique objects, expand my professional network as well as sharing knowledge with collegeages, learn new skills and improve the ones I have.