Conservation Internship

The conservation department is responsible for the physical care of the entire collection. The Chinati conservator works toward sustaining the museum for many years to come by providing for the protection of the permanent collection, the preservation of buildings, and the stewardship of the land.

Internship Description

The art conservation internship is a learning position that allows an intern to work directly with Chinati’s conservation department staff. This internship introduces participants to conservation ethics and practices. With this objective at the forefront, internship tasks may include generating written and photographic documentation, preparing condition reports, conducting collection surveys, performing preventive and interventive conservation treatments, and assisting with temporary exhibitions. Interns may also be involved in decision-making and research.

The intern will be trained to handle collections objects and visually inspect objects and images. On occasion, this role can be physically active, and the conservation intern must be comfortable with: climbing ladders & scaffolding; bending, stooping, kneeling, and/or working on a lift; lifting up to 40 lbs. unassisted, and up to 75 lbs. with the assistance of others; using tools such as a pallet jack; and working in varying light conditions, very cold and very high heat, and outdoors in all weather conditions.

The conservation intern will learn about the collection, lead public museum tours, and occasionally assist with special events and other initiatives that support Chinati. Interns live and work amidst the permanent collection and are provided valuable resources and training toward future endeavors in a museum or cultural heritage environment.

In general, conservation internship activities include:

  • Examination, documentation, analysis, treatment
  • Collection surveying
  • Exhibition/loan and digitization preparation
  • Lab maintenance
  • Preventive conservation (e.g., environmental & pest monitoring, collections housing, emergency preparedness, and collections surveys)
  • Conservation research
  • Raising awareness for preservation and conservation (e.g., through speaking and writing, and leading tours of Chinati’s collection)
  • Conservation professional activities such as visiting other museums, participating in the Western Area Art Conservation Group (WAAC), the American Institute for Conservation (AIC), and the Emerging Conservation Professionals Network (ECPN)

Requisite skills and experience

Applicants to the conservation internship generally demonstrate:

  • Knowledge of art materials and their skillful use
  • Experience in studio art
  • Comfort handling power tools
  • Creative thinking and problem-solving skills
  • Written and verbal communication skills
  • Adaptability and open-mindedness
  • Comfort with and enthusiasm for physically demanding work

Intern candidates are not required to have previous work or educational experience in the arts, though an interest in art and art history is key. Internships can provide training for technician positions, allied heritage preservation professions or graduate programs, and contribute toward preparation for professional conservation or other museum positions.

We welcome applicants with some college-level coursework, associate or bachelor’s degrees, or work experience equivalent.


Interns receive professional mentorship from Director of Conservation Shelley Smith. The mentorship program includes introductions to local arts professionals, artists, and organizations; networking events; department-specific skills days; intern lunches and field trips; and more.

Compensation and housing

Interns are expected to work approximately 40 hours per week at a rate of $15 per hour, provided free housing on the museum grounds, and offered medical benefits. Interns are also provided a bicycle. A personal cell phone is required. If needed, transport to and from the El Paso or Midland/Odessa airports is available.


Conservation internships are offered for a term of six months and can be extended up to one year because of the technical or project-based scope. The next internship term will commence in September 2024. To apply, please send a cover letter, resume, and one letter of reference in a single PDF document to Applications open September 1, 2023 and close November 15, 2023.

Individuals from backgrounds that are underrepresented in the arts and DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival) recipients are encouraged to apply.

Learn More

To learn more about Chinati internships, please click here.

To learn more about Chinati’s conservation department, its mission and processes, please click here.