In 2005, an internship programme was established at the Chester Beatty to train and mentor newly-graduated conservators. Since its inception the programme has been generously funded by the Chester Beatty Patrons and the Heritage Council.
There is currently no formal conservation training available in Ireland, so the internships offer unique professional development opportunities for newly-qualified Irish conservators and international students. Over twenty interns and placement students specialising in book and paper conservation have been mentored by the staff at the Chester Beatty. If you would like to learn more please follow our blog.
Adam joined the Chester Beatty as Heritage Council Intern in Conservation in November 2018. He graduated from the Conservation and Restoration programme at the University of Amsterdam in 2018, specialising in Book and Paper conservation. Adam had previously volunteered at the Chester Beatty as a tour guide and rehoused some of the Arabic manuscript collection.
Before deciding upon a career in conservation Adam studied Chinese studies at SOAS and lived in Beijing for 3 years. He continues to have a deep interest in the Far East. He has also lived in the Middle East and has a growing interest in its culture. Adam has been a member of the Institute of Conservator-Restorers in Ireland since 2016.
Alice joined the Chester Beatty as Heritage Council Intern in Conservation in December 2017. She graduated with an MA in Conservation of Fine Art (specialising in works of art on paper) from Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, in 2017. Prior to commencing her studies at Northumbria, she undertook a conservation internship at the Indira Ghandi National Centre for the Arts, New Delhi, India. During her MA she undertook placements at the Victoria and Albert Museum, Royal Museums Greenwich, Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums, Jane McAusland Paper Conservation in Suffolk, and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
During the internship Alice conserved Thai manuscripts and prepared items from across the collection for digitisation. She also developed a keen interest in the materials and techniques used in Indian miniatures, and their conservation. After completing her internship in December 2018, Alice worked as a Contract Conservator at the Chester Beatty focusing on the conservation of the Thai Collection in preparation for an exhibition in June 2019. Alice is currently employed as a Conservator of art on paper at the British Museum.
“Working at the Chester Beatty has been a real privilege and I have enjoyed every moment. The conservation team are wonderful, inspiring and immensely knowledgeable. The internship taught me how to approach new and challenging objects and allowed me to develop confidence in my own judgement and ability. I am delighted to have been given the chance to work at the Chester Beatty a little longer and I look forward to what the future may hold.”
Dorothea graduated from the Academy of Art and Design in Stuttgart with an MA in the conservation of fine art, specialising in books and works of art on paper, in 2015. Her interest in conservation began when she trained as a bookbinder at the University and State Library in Darmstadt. Before joining the Chester Beatty, Dorothea worked as a book conservator at the Bavarian State Library in Munich.
During her internship at Chester Beatty, Dorothea had the chance to work on Asian and Islamic materials, which has expanded her portfolio of work and given her new and exciting research opportunities.
Since leaving the Chester Beatty, Dorothea has been working at the Bibliotheca Augusta in Wolfenbüttel, Germany.
“My year at the Chester Beatty has been enriching, insightful and simply wonderful all around. I have learned so much through working together with incredibly kind and knowledgeable colleagues. A new area of objects, their preservation and conservation were opened to me and the opportunities the library has given me throughout the year to continue my professional development have truly been exceptional. I am so very grateful to all the staff at the Chester Beatty Library, especially the wonderful conservation team.”
Cécilia Duminuco completed a two-year MA course on the Conservation of Books and Library Materials at West Dean College in the U.K. Prior to this, she obtained an MA in painting conservation at the École Supérieure des Arts Saint-Luc of Liège in Belgium, where she trained for five years. During the past few years, Cécilia has undertaken several short work placements in various notable institutions, including the Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage – KIK-IRPA, Brussels, Belgium and the Oxford Conservation Consortium in the U.K.
Cécilia is especially interested in painted surfaces, illuminated manuscripts, and bookbinding structures, and has been researching continuously to increase her knowledge on the subject. Since the end of her internship, Cécilia has been working at the Cambridge University Library and she is currently employed as book and paper conservator at the University of Manchester.
“I cannot express enough how grateful I am for the wonderful internship experience I have had at the Chester Beatty Library. I have had the chance to work in a fabulous conservation studio with the kindest, most helpful and supportive colleagues. I have had the opportunity to work on incredible materials, and to learn something new every day. My internship has expanded my knowledge of non-western materials, and has allowed me to develop and strengthen my hand skills. As Chester Beatty himself said, ‘It was all a great adventure’.”
Puneeta Sharma graduated from Camberwell College of Arts, University of the Arts, London, in June 2014 with an MA in Conservation (Art on Paper) and previously studied BA Fine Art at Central Saint Martins. Before embarking upon a career in conservation, Puneeta worked as an artist and an Arts-in-Health assistant for the arts psychotherapies’ services in various NHS Trusts. Before starting her internship at the Chester Beatty Library, Puneeta worked at Magdalene College, University of Cambridge as their first Paper Conservation Intern, and the National Archives in London as a Project Conservator.
Puneeta’s recent interests have developed to include pastel paintings from the 18th century with a focus on the impact of transport and display on the fragility of the media. Puneeta has been working at the Royal Collection Trust in Windsor, U.K. since November 2015, where she is now Assistant Drawings Conservator (Prints and Drawings).
“Working at the Chester Beatty Library was a dream come true for me. From working on Indian paintings on paper and Hebrew manuscripts on parchment, to installing exhibitions containing fantastic works of art and developing my knowledge and skills by taking a trip to Italy to learn all about pigments; the internship truly exceeded my expectations! I was able to develop my confidence as a recent graduate. The conservation team is full of highly skilled conservators who are incredibly generous and supportive, encouraging me to reach my full potential during my time at the CBL.”
Josefin Bergmark-Jimenez trained as a bookbinder before studying conservation at West Dean College in the UK, where she graduated with an MA in Book Conservation in 2011. When she applied for the CBL internship she was working as a digitisation conservator at The National Archives, London.
During the internship Josefin worked with a wide variety of objects from the collection, with a focus on books from the Arabic collection. Josefin also learnt more about pigments and pigment consolidation as well as preparing objects for the exhibition Chester Beatty’s A to Z and several other temporary exhibitions.
Following her internship Josefin has worked for The National Library of Sweden and Trinity College Library as well as for the Antarctic Heritage Trust, New Zealand. She is currently employed as a conservator at the University of Limerick, working with the Bolton Library.
“I am so grateful for this amazing experience and I feel that I have learnt so much, working with such amazing people. To anyone with an interest in book arts and printing the Chester Beatty offers the unique opportunity to trace a nearly perfect timeline of the history of the written word, from first century papyri down to contemporary art prints, not only through Western and European tradition but through material from Asia and the Middle East as well. I’m indebted to the Library and Contributing members for giving me the opportunity to work with such a unique collection and knowledgeable conservators.”
Elisabeth Randell graduated with an Advanced Diploma in Museum Studies, Algonquin College, Ottowa. In 2013 she moved to Dublin for an internship in at The National Gallery of Ireland. Following a short contract assisting with a digitisation project she was offered a nine month internship at the Chester Beatty.
Elisabeth’s internship entailed working on a wide variety of objects, ranging from mother of pearl Japanese fans, Persian Miniatures, and Indian drawings. Under the supervision of the Head of Conservation she was responsible for various procedures for their treatment such as condition assessing, documenting, treatment reporting; surface cleaning, aqueous washing, humidification, pigment consolidation, tear repairs, mounting, and assisting with art handling for photography. Additionally she aided in surveying parts of the collection, including the Japanese shrines, Sumatran manuscripts, Jain texts, Japanese & Chinese scrolls, and Islamic Qur’an scrolls.
Shortly after finishing her internship Elisabeth was offered a contract as preventative conservator at the National Gallery of Ireland, before beginning an MA in conservation of Art on Paper at Camberwell College of Arts, London. After several internships and contracts at the Royal Collection, the V&A Museum, and Trinity College Dublin, she is now working as a conservator the British Library.
“As an emerging conservator I couldn’t believe my fortune to be surrounded by such an amazing collection, and truly wonderful and skilled conservators. The lab was never quiet, hosting guest conservators and projects, with specialists in medieval pigments, books, textiles, and analytical techniques. It was a rare and invaluable lab to be a part of, and I am so thankful for the guidance and encouragement of the team.”
Julia Poirier graduated from a two-year Masters in paper conservation at Northumbria University, Newcastle in 2010. She went on to work in private practice and the Special Collection at the University of Edinburgh before joining the Derry and Raphoe Conservation Project with the University of Ulster before joining the Chester Beatty in 2012.
Julia’s internship involved the conservation and preparation of Indian miniatures and bound items for two major international loans to the USA. She was involved in the preparation for digitisation of the Early Biblical Papyri collection as well as working on specific items from all three collections for permanent and temporary gallery rotations.
Following the completion of her internship, Julia was offered a contract as a Book and Paper Conservator at the Library.
“It is an absolute pleasure and honour to be working at the Chester Beatty Library. The scope and quality of the collection is incredible. I have been extremely fortunate to be given such a life changing opportunity which I have enjoyed beyond words.”
Fiona McLees graduated from the Masters Conservation programme at Camberwell College of Arts in 2010. She then undertook a personal research project cataloguing a collection of historic paper samples at the British Museum, and a short contract at the National Archives in Kew prior to beginning the internship at the Chester Beatty.
During her internship, Fiona worked with a wide variety of objects. A large proportion of her time was spent collaborating with book conservator Rachel Sawicki on the conservation of a 16th Century Persian Qur’an by Ruzbihan, contributing to research into the techniques and materials used in the production of this masterpiece.
Fiona went on to work as a contract paper conservator at the Imperial War Museum, London, focusing upon preparing a large and varied collection of WWI items for the new permanent galleries. Following this, she completed one year as paper conservator for acquisitions at Tate, working primarily with modern and contemporary photography and art on paper. She is now based at the Bodleian Libraries, Oxford, working once again within a historic library collection.
“I could never be generous enough about the experience I had at the Chester Beatty – an outstanding collection, a wonderful mentor, and the chance to work on career-defining projects, as well as excellent colleagues to collaborate with across the Library. It has proved a wonderful springboard for my career and opened the doors to many institutions, as well as allowing me to develop a network of friends and colleagues across Dublin and the rest of Europe.”
Rachel Sawicki worked as an Assistant Conservation Technician at the Bodleian Library, UK for three years before she undertook the Conservation Master’s degree at West Dean College, specialising in the conservation of books and library materials.
Rachel’s internship initially focused on the conservation of the Library’s bound Shahnama manuscript collection under the supervision of the Senior Book Conservator Kristine Rose-Beers. She also helped to install and de-install five major exhibitions in the Library’s permanent and temporary galleries. Following the completion of her Heritage Council internship, Rachel was offered a one-year contract at CBL as Book Conservator focusing on the conservation of Islamic manuscripts.
For the past two years Rachel has been honing her conservation skills at the National Library of Australia lab. She is currently working as Exhibitions Conservator at NLA, where she continues with her love of conserving historic books.
“The breadth of skills and knowledge required to work as a professional book conservator can be daunting for recent graduates. However, the internship programme at CBL offered me the most welcoming, personalised, caring, and dynamic environment to develop these essential skills. My internship experience is something I will be eternally grateful for. My love for book conservation has certainly increased as a result of the quality training and guidance I experienced with the wonderful Chester Beatty Library team.”
Rachael Smith had completed an MA in paper conservation at Northumbria University, and a one year internship in a commercial studio before she joined the Chester Beatty.
The main focus of Rachael’s internship was preparing a collection of Mughal Miniature paintings for a major travelling exhibition, Muraqqa. This involved creating condition reports and researching treatment options before stabilising the paintings for travel.
On completion of her internship, Rachael worked at the Chester Beatty Library as a Paper Conservator for six months. She then became a Project Conservator for the Marianne North Gallery at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in London for 18 months. Rachael now has a permanent job as Drawings Conservator for the (UK) Royal Collection, at Windsor Castle.
“The internship greatly broadened my understanding of the role of a conservator in a museum, and provided me with experience in a wide range of different aspects and of working on high-quality exhibitions. I have felt that this experience has been absolutely essential in securing my subsequent jobs, and continues to inform my work as a conservator on a daily basis.”
Louise O’Connor had just graduated from Northumbria University’s Masters programme in the Conservation of Fine Art- works of art on paper when she became the Chester Beatty’s first intern.
Louise’s internship focused on the conservation of items in the Armenian collection in preparation for the publication ‘The Armenians: Art, Culture and Religion’. She also helped to install and de-install exhibitions such as ‘Albrecht Durer’ and ‘Chinese Printmaking Today’ in the Library’s galleries.
In 2006 Louise moved to the post of assistant paper conservator at the National Gallery of Ireland for a year and then on to the National Library of Ireland where she is now conservator responsible for prints & drawings, ephemera and heraldic manuscripts collections.
“My internship at Chester Beatty Library was a wonderful and exciting experience; I strongly believe I wouldn’t be where I am in my professional career without Jessica’s guidance, care, and professional support during and indeed after my internship at the CBL. I learnt so many hands-on conservation skills along with practical day-to-day knowledge of working in a busy conservation studio. It was the dream internship!’