2017 Technical Studies Fellowship for early 20th century Costume and Fashion at MCI

The Smithsonian Institution’s Museum Conservation Institute (MCI) is seeking a post-graduate fellow in chemistry to undertake research on early 20th century costume and fashion. Researchers interested in the technical study, chemical analysis and preservation of historic costume collections at the Smithsonian, including those at the postdoctoral level, are encouraged to apply. The fellowship begins in the winter of 2017. A stipend of $32,700 is being offered at the postgraduate level and $48,000 at the postdoctoral level, plus a research allowance up to $2,000. While 12-month fellowship proposals are preferred, applications for projects of shorter duration (between 6 -12 months) are acceptable, with a commensurate reduction to the stipend amounts. The prospective fellow should first contact Janet Douglas, MCI Head of Technical Studies (douglja@si.edu) to discuss Smithsonian collections and possible proposals for this research. Researchers interested in the technical study, chemical analysis, and preservation of historic costume collections at the Smithsonian are encouraged to apply by developing and submitting a research proposal. Applications must be submitted through the Office of Fellowships and Internships by November 30, 2016.

Research: The purpose of the fellowship is to encourage research on the chemical characterization of museum collections of early 20th century costumes and fashion of historic importance, including their original manufacture, current condition, degradation mechanisms, and future preservation. The fellow will focus on museum collections such as the Ruby Slippers in 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz, and related materials.  Materials to be studied will include sequins, beads, and buttons composed of early synthetic polymers such as cellulose nitrate and cellulose acetate. Interaction of these materials with environmental conditions may also be evaluated. The fellow will conduct in-depth literature search to gain expertise in the most current research on relevant topics, and will have opportunity to interact with conservators and conservation scientists specializing in materials and preventative practices. Methods of analysis will include Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, gas chromatography – mass spectrometry, scanning electron microscopy, among others. The Fellow may develop appropriate analytical protocols, and reference materials and other methods of determining the extent of degradation.

Location and Supervision: MCI is the center for specialized technical collection research and conservation for all Smithsonian museums and collections in Suitland, MD. MCI combines knowledge of materials and the history of technology with state-of-the-art instrumentation and scientific techniques to provide technical research studies and interpretation of artistic, anthropological, biological, and historical objects.

To Apply: Applications must be made through the Smithsonian’s Online Academic Appointment System (https://solaa.si.edu/solaa/SOLAAHome.html) by November 30, 2016; select the option for the MCI Fellowship Program. Your application materials should specifically mention Janet G. Douglas, MCI Head of Technical Studies (douglja@si.edu) as the fellowship supervisor. Selected candidates may be interviewed by telephone.