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Special Discounts for Girl Scouts: June 2-11

Meet Jenifer Bosworth

Conservator, Freer and Sackler Galleries

Bosworth Cleaning Monkeys reach for the Moon by Xu Bing
Jenifer working on "Fragments" by Chinese artist Ai Wei Wei.
What I work on at the Smithsonian.

My focus at the Freer and Sackler is taking care of objects while they are on exhibit. I work intimately with amazing objects from our own collections, but also from institutions and private lenders from around the world. I get to handle beautiful, rare and unique objects, examine them closely and work to keep them safe through the entire process of putting on an exhibition.

My work can cover a broad range of activities including: writing up object condition reports, and doing minor conservation treatments; gathering and analyzing environmental data that effect the exhibit environment; providing specifications for the construction of exhibit cases, object mounts, and shipping crates; acting as courier for objects on loan to other museums, or for entire exhibitions traveling from venue to venue, both nationally and internationally.

I also enjoy the opportunity to regularly work with people from a wide variety of backgrounds: designers, curators, engineers, mount-makers and carpenters, scientists, art handlers, truck drivers—pretty much anyone who might have any connection with getting an exhibit up and running.

Best moment at the Smithsonian

The opening of Echoes of the Past: The Buddhist Cave Temples of Xiangtangshan in 2011 in our own galleries. This exhibition, which is currently on view at the San Diego Museum of Art, consists of heavy stone sculpture from Buddhist cave temples in China. The work needed for this multi-venue exhibition was incredibly complicated. Working with such large scale objects, planning mounts for some of them and making sure they would also keep the objects safe in a venue that could have an earthquake was a new experience for me and very stressful! It was a great feeling to see the objects in our galleries after they were installed and lit, look so beautiful and effortless. (Little did I know that we’d have a 5.9 quake hit DC! In fact, we had just de-installed the exhibit before the quake hit and the objects were in their crates)

Advice for Girl Scouts interested in a career like mine?

Volunteer at different museums with Conservation or Collections Management departments to get experience working with objects and see what kind of work appeals to you most. If you are especially interested in working with objects as a conservator, you should take art as well as chemistry classes that will help you eventually apply for graduate programs in conservation. For more information about becoming a conservator check out the web-site for the American Institute for Conservation and click on the “Career Center” tab to read about how to become a conservator, career and training options.

Installation of Ai Wei Wei exhibition.

Learn More!

Ask me about my work at the Smithsonian!

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