There are some careers that come up pretty regularly in conversation.
But how often do you meet someone who works in art conservation?
Jeanne Beaudry Tardif completed her undergraduate degree in Art History at the Université du Québec à Montréal in 2009.
“I knew that my career would be in art conservation because that was my dream,” she says.
With no undergraduate programs in art conservation available to her, Jeanne turned to study at the graduate level.
Jeanne finished her Master’s of Art Conservation at Queen’s University in November of 2012. Less than a year later, she’s working at the Library of Parliament as the Team Lead, Conservation.
Realizing a dream
Jeanne was attracted to the diverse work environments she could explore as an art conservation specialist.
“I knew that the field of paper conservation would allow me to work for museums, libraries and private studios,” she says.
Having figured out her path, the next challenge was choosing a location. “I thought I would have to go to Europe or the United States,” says Jeanne. “I was really happy when I discovered the Queen’s Master’s of Art Conservation program. It made my dream achievable as the cost and travel budget were more realistic.”
After completing the application process, which consisted of an online application, interview and portfolio submission, Jeanne started the Queen’s program in 2010.
Sketching a career
As the only university in Canada to offer a Master’s program in art conservation, Queen’s University provides a well-rounded education in order to stay competitive. Jeanne’s two-year program taught her about a variety of topics related to her field, including preventative conservation, microscopy, laboratory work, painting conservation, history and chemistry.
“I developed very good research skills,” Jeanne says, “and I learned to always have an unconditional respect for cultural objects.”
The balance between the two is essential, as the actual process of art conservation involves a lot of careful research before any steps are taken.
“I learned to always think in-depth before doing a treatment and to verify all the options available,” Jeanne says.
Attending Queen’s also made it possible for Jeanne to explore some of the prestigious locations she aspired to work in.
“I was hoping that the degree in art conservation would allow me to get diverse experience in renowned museums and libraries,” she says. “My title of grad student from Queen’s University allowed me to visit conservation laboratories and meet conservators from renowned institutions such as the Getty Conservation Institute in Los Angeles and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.”
Jeanne says Queen’s provided a welcoming, supportive environment for her to further her education. “The atmosphere at Queen’s was really friendly,” she says, “and the campus is a really beautiful place to study.”
Outside of the classroom, Jeanne found plenty of ways to stay involved.
Her small program helped her develop engaged friendships within her cohort.
“There were 10 students per year, so my social life was mostly with this small, close-knit group,” she says.
Beyond the social scene, Jeanne kept herself busy with yoga and aerobic classes at the university gym and visited Montreal occasionally over the weekend.
She says that balance was key.
“I made sure to take time for myself when I needed it.”
A bright picture
Having already realized her dream of working in a prestigious institution early in her career, Jeanne stresses the value of her graduate degree.
“As a recent graduate, most of my knowledge and skills have been developed during my time at Queen’s,” she says.
Jeanne draws upon her graduate school work ethic as well.
“I approach my work the same way I would have done it at Queen’s,” she says, “by ensuring that proper research is done beforehand and by carefully thinking things through before doing a treatment.”
When it comes to advice for other graduate school hopefuls, Jeanne’s advice goes back to basics, emphasizing hard work and passion.
“Make sure you are ready to dedicate a huge amount of your time to the program,” Jeanne says, “and make sure that you love the field you choose to study in.”