Student placements 2023 - Where did they go?

Each year, students on the MA Conservation Studies programmes undertake a six-week work placement in industry as part of their studies. The College’s extensive links with museums, conservators and professional bodies in the heritage sector across the UK, EU and internationally, opens up an impressive range of opportunities to apply their skills and knowledge in a 'real-world' setting, preparing them for a career in the heritage conservation industry.

Here, students across our Ceramics, Furniture and Books specialisms tell us a bit more about their placements.

Elizabeth Wells - Ceramics and Related Materials

National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh

“I was in Edinburgh for 6 weeks within the Artefacts team so got to work on everything from silver (electrolytic reduction and lacquering), a giant wooden logboat, Victorian magic lantern slides, glass, and a 16th Century Guyanese feather headdress (and a feather cleaning workshop), covered in lead! I also helped in new acquisition record making, photography and storage box making.

I also got to assist in a loan courier to V&A Dundee, where I helped the condition checking of the objects and got to place them in their display cases for the exhibition. I did a site visit to a Buddhist temple to assess moving a 7ft Buddha for display in the museum, and I got to spend time at Museum of Flight helping collections care clean the plane's interior and exterior."

Lucie Le Gall - Ceramics and Related Materials

Brighton Royal Pavillion

"I have been lucky enough to have the opportunity to join the conservation team at the Brighton Pavillion and work alongside them for this placement. Working with Conservation Assistant Hannah and fellow Intern Lily on both collections care, throughout the Brighton and Hove museums, helping with the annual deep cleaning of the rooms and the objects they contact; and object treatment in the workshop, helping with the current Pagoda project. 

I have learnt so much at the Pavillion, both in terms of practical conservation skills, and the administration work that goes with collections care. It has given me an insight into the wonderfully diverse and varied roles a conservator may be expected to undertake in the public sector. This was a highly encouraging experience which will stay with me as I move forward in my conservation career. I am very grateful to the team at the Pavilion for guiding and trusting me to help care for this beautiful building and look forward to visiting both them and the pagodas in the near future."

Jennifer McNulty - Ceramics and Related Materials

American School of Classical Studies

"I completed my MA ceramics conservation work placement at the conservation lab of the Agora archaeological excavation site at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, Greece, under the supervision of the Head Conservator, Dr. Maria Tziotziou.

I was lucky enough to work on ceramic and glass objects from the most recent excavation season as well as doing re-treatment of objects from earlier seasons. The experience left me with a much better understanding of the complex ethical issues that arise in treating archaeological ceramics. Archaeological artifacts' greatest value lies not in their aesthetic properties but rather in their ability to teach us about past civilizations, and so conservation treatments done on them mostly revolve around stabilisation of the materials while being as non-interventive as possible."

Duncan McCall - Ceramics and Related Materials

Royal Oak Foundation Conservation Studio at Knole House

"I did my placement at the Royal Oak Foundation Conservation Studio at Knole House in Kent. That is where the National Trust carry out conservation on all types of objects (except textiles) from their collections across the whole country.

I worked on a wide range of ceramics and other objects including a collection of ceramics from Hill Top (Beatrix Potter’s home in the Lake District).

I also went out on location to Fenton House in Hampstead, where over 3 days my supervisor Felicity Bolton and I surveyed 150 beautiful ceramic objects (including an impressive collection of Meissen).

It was a great opportunity to work alongside conservators in different disciplines including paintings, furniture, frames and painted surfaces. The studio at Knole is a beautiful and inspiring place to work and I came away with a renewed passion for working in the profession."

Abi Tudor - Furniture and Related Objects

Heritage Malta

"Heritage Malta is a government agency that is the custodian of over 90 sites and museums. Among these are seven world heritage sites such as the Ggantija Archaeological Park and temples, a megalithic site dating back to 3600 BC. 

Within the conservation section, there are six departments, these are Paintings, Wood, Paper, Textiles, Objects and Preventive Conservation, with Furniture sitting under the supervision of the Paintings department. There are also scientific labs which provide aid to all the divisions.

As an intern at Heritage Malta, you are given the opportunity to work on current projects that are passing through the workshop as well as visit many of the cultural sites and meet the staff who are working on-site. While on placement I worked on the cleaning and conservation of a polychrome frame for the President's Palace and a beautiful Maltese olive wood chest of drawers from the late 18th Century. This involved the carrying out of condition surveys, treatment proposals, and the actual treatment of the objects. It was a very hands-on experience, and I learned a huge amount both about the treatments I was carrying out, as well as from the work going on in the various studios."

Ana Cristina García Pérez - Books and Library Materials

Cambridge University Library

"I undertook a work placement at the Cambridge University Library (CUL) with Shaun Thompson (Acting Head Conservation and Collections Management) as my Supervisor.

The placement was organised as follows:

  • 1 week working on the Curious Cures Project – Conserving a volume with composite textb locks on parchment from the Library of St. John’s College (Cambridge).
  • 2 weeks working on the Darwin Project – Conserving a composite atlas with maps of South America and the Chilean coast and other countries from The Quentin Keynes Collection, and scientific notes and letters from the latter part of Charles Darwin’s life (1877-1879), which he devoted to the study of plants and heliotropism.
  • 1 week learning about photograph and wax seals conservation.
  • 1 week learning about the Andalusi binding structure as part of my MA thesis.
  • 1 week learning about the Robert Espinosa’s modified Limp Vellum binding.

Undertaking this work placement let me broaden both practical and theoretical experience, build contacts within the conservation field in the UK and gain transferable skills, among others. Similarly, I experienced first-hand how the 'real world' works and how I should develop in it."