Historic Preservation and Conservation at the Denver Art Museum

4 minute read

Francisca Lucero Juez is currently on a trainee program with InterExchange at the Denver Art Museum. She took some time out of her day to share some highlights of her program. Read below to learn more about her unique experience!

Francisca working with textiles at the Denver Art Museum
Francisca working with textiles at the Denver Art Museum
Image Courtesy of Francisca Lucero Juez

How did you find your internship/trainee program?

I am subscribed to a Conservation Distribution List and they periodically send e-mails with news on internships, available positions in conservation and/or museums and other cultural institutions around the world. I subscribed to it when I was a student and since then I’ve been kept “in the loop” of some of the major cultural institutions out there, including Denver Art Museum.

My trainee program is funded through the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which provides funding for conservation in a variety of specialties in several museums in the United States.

I had an interview with DAM back in 2015 and was not offered the Fellowship due to Visa restrictions… When the Fellowship was announced once more in 2017, I contacted the people who had interviewed me at DAM to see if anything on their side had changed, see if I could apply again. This time around, they figured out a way to offer me the Fellowship thanks to InterExchange! And that’s how I’m here today.

What were the professional goals you wanted to achieve through this program?

Mainly work in an institution like this, a large-scale Museum with renowned historic art collections as well as a focus in “New World” and archaeological objects. I wanted to experience work at a Museum with constant rotations in their exhibitions and learn from their procedures, bureaucracies and technical aspects of large institutions and interdepartmental teamwork.

Choreographing conservation efforts and assistance with the exhibit installations team for both installation and de-installation of multiple exhibitions requires seamless teamwork and offer additional insight to how multiple departments collaborate on projects in institutions of this size.

Describe your training program.

As a Fellow I assist the Associate Textile Conservator in whatever duties the Museum requires of us. From looking at new acquisitions and assessing their condition and viability for future exhibitions, performing interventive treatment and preventive measures on textile objects going on display and/or storage, to aiding in the install and de-install of art exhibitions throughout the galleries in the Museum.

I have been and continue to be carrying out treatment techniques including textile stabilization, cleaning, and compensation for loss; working with mount makers to design and fabricate supports for safe display and effective interpretation; and coordination with exhibitions teams to meet needs of the program schedule (including assistance with installation).

Public outreach and engagement has also been a component of the Fellowship. The Museum has lots of visitors, not only the general public but scholars and students that are allowed to visit the conservation laboratory to see what we are working on and what aspects are to be considered in the whole process of conservation. This has meant interaction with all sorts of people, talking to them, showing them our work, and effectively explaining and answering any questions they might have.

Share examples of how you’ve learned more about U.S. culture and how you’ve shared your culture with others

Interaction with my US-American colleagues and meeting people within and outside of DAM has had me learn a lot of idioms, traditions, recipes, and get involved in cultural and local events (like the Stock Show, which is a huge thing here in Colorado, March Madness, 4th of July, Thanksgiving, etc.). My colleagues and people at the DAM have been really welcoming and have made sure I’m not left out of these occasions, and we celebrate the staff’s birthdays regularly with delicious pastries and the “departmental lunch” for their special day.

I’ve also had the chance to travel a bit, see a little of Colorado’s beautiful scenery, interact with wild life (namely squirrels, crows and bunnies, which we don’t have in Santiago). I was in NYC for a week and was amazed and everything there is to do in the city that never sleeps. I would love to go back and experience more of it!

Hopefully I’ll be able to travel a bit more within the States; it’s such a huge country and with such a variety of sceneries and cultures, it has been a very rich experience!

What would you tell a friend from your own country to encourage him/her to do an internship through InterExchange?

InterExchange has made the whole Visa and other bureaucratic processes so much clearer for me to understand. I would recommend anyone to use their services for training/internship/work&holiday opportunities. I’ve lived in a few different countries and this kind of thing is never as straightforward and “easy” (it’s never easy but InterExchange definitely helps a lot) as it has been for me here in the States.

I would definitely recommend people in Chile to take a program here in the States with the help of InterExchange!

Francisca Lucero Juez By

Francisca is spending 18 months at the Denver Art Museum, working as a trainee with Career Training USA in Historic Preservation and Conservation.

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