Conservation Manager - Ford House

Full-time, exempt

$40,000 to $50,000 per year

Position Description

As a member of the Material Culture team reporting to the Director of Material Culture, the Conservation Manager is the primary person responsible for the care, preservation, and conservation of Ford House’s collections, which include furnishings, decorative arts, textiles, paintings, outdoor sculptures, vehicles, and architectural features and historic finishes both interior and exterior. The Conservation Manager performs a wide range of advanced conservation and administrative duties requiring specialized knowledge of the collection. They provide both strategic guidance and practical experience about the collections’ long-term preservation and oversee the day-to-day workload of the collections care team. They will also work with the Archivist and Collections Manager to assist prioritizing and ensuring completion of conservation needs.


Considering the unique needs and challenges of Ford House, where the collections are housed in historical buildings with features and finishes that are part of the historic fabric of the site, the Conservation Manager will be involved in the conservation and preservation of the collections.

● Manage all aspects of Ford House’s conservation program, including implementation of a cyclical maintenance program for all collections, monitoring environmental conditions, overseeing the Integrated Preventative Pest Management program, etc. Work closely with the Collections Manager & Registrar on these projects.
● Perform preservation cleaning and conservation treatments of collections and built interiors according to professional standards.
● Solicit proposals for conservation treatment(s) by contractors.
● Assess and prioritize the objects within the collection for conservation treatment.
● Create conservation proposals/treatment options for objects in need of conservation.
● Conserve collections items, adhering to the standards and practices set out by the American Institute of Conservation.
● Maintain all conservation and maintenance-related documentation.
● Develop, review, and manage the long-term conservation plan.
● Conduct object handling and collections-related safety training for staff.
● Maintain conservation supply inventory.
● Report on past and future conservation projects to internal and external stakeholders.
● Work with Landscape, Facilities & Maintenance, and Historic Preservation departments to ensure care and preservation of institution-wide collections elements, including but not limited to outdoor sculptures, historic buildings and structures, and use/hands-on objects.
● Maintain confidentiality of museum information.
● Assist in annual budget preparation for conservation activities and facilities.
● Work with Collections Manager and Archivist to ensure collections and archival items are documented and preserved according to institutional policies and museum standards.
● Participate in disaster preparedness planning and any recovery efforts.
● Participate in Ford House projects, programs, and events.
● Represent Ford House at relevant professional forums and establish and maintain collaborations with appropriate institutions.
● Other duties as assigned.

Physical & Environmental Demands

Ability to walk up and down stairs while carrying objects weighing up to 55 pounds; to bend, stoop, and lift to move materials; to push/pull, lift and carry up to 55 pounds on a regular basis; and to reach above and below shoulder height. Ability to stand and walk for long periods of time. Ability to sit at a computer terminal for long periods of time. Tolerance of dust and mildew (protective gear provided). The nature of the position requires the ability to work in both indoor and outdoor environments in varying temperatures and weather conditions.

Supervisory Responsibilities

● Directly supervise part-time Historical Buildings Housekeeper, volunteers, and interns.

Uniform Requirements

This position does not require a uniform, but the Manager must present a clean, professional appearance. A uniform shirt will be provided to wear at specific events, and the shirt should be maintained by the Manager.

Skills & Requirements

● Successful completion of background and credit check.
● Bachelor’s degree in art, history, or related field. Master’s degree in Conservation preferred.
● At least three years’ experience in the conservation of decorative or fine arts objects or historic preservation.
● Considerable knowledge of the theories, principles, and practices of conservation, as well as the techniques, tools, and equipment used in practical conservation of objects and historic finishes.
● Considerable knowledge of materials and current scientific processes used in conservation and restoration.
● Ability to identify and assess preservation needs for a variety of objects, architectural features, and historic finishes.
● Ability to plan future conservation and maintenance projects and manage projects.
● Ability to write accurate, clear, and concise proposals and reports detailing activities.
● Ability to train and supervise personnel engaged in preservation and collections care activities.
● Ability to maintain confidentiality in all professional matters.
● Demonstrated ability to communicate, orally and in writing.
● Good organizational skills and attention to detail.
● Familiarity with Microsoft Office suite.
● Familiarity with collections database software.
● Ability to communicate effectively, both orally and in writing, to establish and maintain effective relationships with coworkers, visitors, vendors, and others in the workplace, and to work cooperatively and productively as a member of a team.

Work Schedule

● This is a full-time position with benefits.
● Must be able to work evenings, weekends, and some holidays.
● Must be able to travel to various locations including Ford House and the off-site collections facility.

Email application and resume to . Indicate in subject line “Conservation Manager.” Please, no phone calls.

Ford House is committed to a policy of Equal Employment Opportunity and will not discriminate against an applicant on the basis of age, sex, sexual orientation, race, color, creed, religion, ethnicity, national origin, alienage or citizenship, disability, marital status, veteran or military status, genetic information, or any other legally-recognized protected basis under federal, state or local laws, regulations or ordinances. Applicants with disabilities may be entitled to reasonable accommodation under the terms of the Americans with Disabilities Act and/or certain state or local laws.

Posted on 2/9/2021

The Michigan Museums Association is supported in part by an award from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts. 

Thank you to our Partners!

Michigan Museums Association       313-334-7643       PO Box 5246, Cheboygan, MI 49721

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