Restoration Technician

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Restoration Technician


Eventually, everything falls apart. Exposure to sun, wind, rain, air, and the human touch can cause most materials to break down. So how is it that you can go to an art gallery and see paintings from hundreds of years ago? How can we look at ancient pottery and clothing at a museum? It's because of the highly skilled, well-trained individuals who work to restore the artifacts and artwork, cleaning and repairing them in an effort to make them as good as new.

Restoration technicians can repair and clean anything. Books, paintings, clothing, grave stones, photographs, even records and tapes can be saved. Unlike conservators, who attempt to keep an object in its present state, restoration technicians try and recreate the past luster and look of all objects.

Restoration technicians know a lot about the power of chemicals, sunlight, and humidity. Working with a team of restorers and other technicians, they examine a new acquisition to the museum or gallery, and determine where it was made, when it was made, and what it is made of. Sometimes, this calls for extensive research, including using various technologies, such as microscopy (microscopes), radiography (x-rays), and chemical analysis, to come to conclusions.

Once they determine the history and composition of the artifact, they can then begin treating it. They document all the steps they take, so future historians will know when changes were made to the artifact, and what those changes consisted of. The idea is to clean and restore the artifact without interfering with it too much. Good restoration technicians will be able to help the artifact without imposing noticeable changes to it. Often restoration technicians will specialize in one area of restoration, and become experts in an area, such as textile, metal, or ceramic restoration.

Restoration technicians are important to our sense of self. They preserve and restore the tangible objects which link us to our pasts, without which it may be difficult to plan for the future.
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  Interests and Skills  
Restoration technicians need to be patient, firm, and decisive individuals with good communication skills. They require good writing ability, as well. An open cultural outlook is important, as are some foreign language skills. They should have good eyesight, be able to lift heavy items, and have good manual dexterity . They should have a love for art, history, and an understanding of various styles, genres, and time periods. Artistic as well as scientific skills come in handy in this line of work. An awareness of the chemical composition, as well as the artistic qualities of an object, is important.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Research history of the artifact to be worked on
  • Take samples and/or carry out tests on artifact
  • Treat artifact with chemicals
  • Record of all decisions and the treatment procedure
  • Demonstrate restoration techniques to volunteers and community agencies
  • Test and assess new treatment methods
  • The typical day for the restoration technician will involve a lot of research, working closely with artifacts and acquisitions. The day will be spent in labs, libraries, or in consultation meetings with other restorers, curators, and technicians. They will have regular hours, with weekends off. They can be exposed to dangerous chemicals, and must follow safety precautions. The restoration technician will spend some of each day writing up findings and recording techniques. The day will not involve much travel, unless to visit other sites where art and artifacts need examining, or to travel to a conference to learn about new restoration techniques.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Restoration technicians can work anywhere there are museum and art pieces. Restoration technicians may work in large government museums and art galleries, which have their own restoration departments. Smaller museums, galleries, private owners, or businesses will not have restoration technicians on staff. They can find restoration technicians who have private practices, or take their art to restoration labs. They can also work for art or antique dealers, galleries, and auction houses.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Restoration technicians can work their way up to supervisory roles within the restoration department, or find different work with museums or galleries as interpreters, exhibit consultants, or researchers. They can find work with various governmental departments. They can also open up their own private restoration agencies. They can become freelance researchers, appraisers, and consultants for lobby groups, Native leaders, and writers of historical novels, television, and film scripts. They can also become art teachers, open galleries, or become artists or art dealers.

  Educational Paths  
Most people interested in working as restoration technicians complete a bachelor's degree in some sort of combination of fine arts and science, and then learn restoration skills during two- to four-year postgraduate programs. University or college programs in photography, computer studies, and history will also benefit the prospective restoration technician. There are also a few technicians' courses offered with community colleges.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition,
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002,

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At UEI College, we want you to succeed. We’re like a family and we want you to be a part of it.

Programs Offered:
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