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College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

School of Art & Art History

Mural by John E. Thompson in Margery Reed Hall at DU

Programs of Study

BFA Pre-Art Conservation with a Chemistry Minor

The Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) is a professional degree leading toward the professions of art conservation and art materials safety. Instead of a liberal arts degree (BA) with multiple majors, the BFA consolidates intensive work in chemistry, languages, art history and studio art, as well as training in conservation labs into a focused program.

One semester in Florence, Italy during the junior year is highly recommended, as are summer internships in American labs. Each student is connected to a conservator-mentor early in the program. Upon completion of the BFA and additional practical work, students may apply for graduate study in art conservation.

Source: DU VideoManager
Rachel Henderson interviews fellow student Mikaela Guggino about the DU Pre-Art Conservation program.  Rachel will graduate in 2016 with her BFA and a BA in Chemistry. Mikaela will graduate in 2017. The two are talking in the School of Art and Art History's printmaking studio in Shwayder Art Building in March of 2016.                                               

Art Conservation Classes

ARTH 2872 Intro to Conservation covers history, theories, and practices of conservation in classroom format at DU, with field trips to conservation labs.  Taught by James Squires, Chief Conservator, Clyfford Still Museum, assisted by other conservators.

ARTS 3960 Conservation Internship – taken fall quarter of senior year as an independent study with conservators to familiarize student with practical applications –- do reports, photo documentation, research, see and/or help with a variety of analytical tests, treatments under close supervision – and begin building a portfolio for grad school application. 

ARTS 3865 Senior Project – taken spring quarter of senior year under supervision of a conservator. Student chooses a project in conservation (normally during winter quarter) and focuses on it most of spring quarter, conducting research, learning techniques, carrying out treatment, and making professional presentation for the senior exhibition in Myhren Gallery.  Also continue working on portfolio and investigating grad schools, although additional work in a lab will normally be needed after graduation to become competitive.

BFA senior Rachel Henderson presented her final project in the art conservation program at DU on May 26, 2016

BFA senior Rachel Henderson presents her final project in the art conservation program (2016)

Senior Samantha Hunt presents her research to conservators

BFA senior Samantha Hunt presents her research to art conservators (2015)

Study Abroad

Students may apply to  SACI through the Cherrington Program to spend fall semester of their Junior year in Florence, Italy, working with Italian conservators  on painting, sculpture, and archaeological objects.  Typically, they take 2 conservation classes, 1 studio class such as fresco painting, and 1 art history class or Italian language.

Students in the Painting Conservation I class at SACI, working with Roberta Lapucci

Students in the Painting Conservation I Class at SACI, working with Roberta Lapucci


Students need as much conservation experience as possible to become competitive applicants to grad programs. At least one year of full time experience after graduation is highly recommended. All should seek volunteer summer internships with area conservators, in consultation with your mentor and advisor.  Past students have interned with the conservation departments at the Clyfford Still Museum, Denver Art MuseumDenver Museum of Nature and Science, and at the Western Center for the Conservation of Fine Arts, and Mountain States Art Conservation.

Additional Internship Opportunities

Program Requirements

 Students conserving the Thompson Mural on campus

 Students conserving the DU's Thompson Mural

Pre-Art Conservation Major
  • 16 credits in Art Foundations: 2D Approaches, 3D Approaches, Drawing, and Concepts.
  • 44 credits in Art History: World Art I, II, and III, plus eight Art History electives.
  • 44 credits in Studio Art: Intermediate Drawing or Life Drawing, Intro to Oil Painting, one 2000-level printmaking class, Intro to Photo, Sculpture I, Intro to Ceramics, plus five studio art or emerging digital practices electives.
  • 12 credits in Art Conservation Studies: Intro to Conservation, Conservation Internship, and Senior Project in Conservation.
  • 24 credits in Chemistry: General Chemistry, Organic Chem I, Organic Chem II, Organic Chem III, Analysis Equil. Systems, and Chem of Elements (all include labs)
  • 24 credits in Language: three classes at the 1000 level and three classes at the 2000 level, or two full years. Italian or Spanish are recommended; Latin does not count for this major.

The BFA Pre-Art-Conservation Major requires 110-135 credit hours in art and art history, 55 of which must be taken at DU or with DU Faculty.  Normally, this minimum is 116, but if some requirements are waived, it can be as low as 110.

Credit earned with less than a “C-” grade cannot be applied toward the major or minor.  The overall GPA in the major must be at least 3.0.

Of the 200 credit hours required for the BFA degree, a minimum of 75 credit hours must be upper division. 

Chemistry Minor

Your 24 credits in Chemistry constitutes a minor. Please see the Chemistry Department for the most recent information.

Core Curriculum

40 credits in Common Curriculum requirements. Note that the 12-credit scientific ways of knowing requirement and the language requirement are already satisfied by the Chemistry and Language requirements of the major. Transfer students are exempt from the First-Year Seminar requirement (4 credits).

Annette Stott is the advisor for all conservation majors.


Resources include information about building professional portfolios; graduate degrees and certificates; art conservation organizations, labs, and centers; art materials safety; art conservation webinars; and grant writing skills.

Advisory Committee

The advisory board consists of top professionals in painting conservation, paper conservation, textile conservation and art history

The program's Advisory Board consists of some of the finest professional art conservators in Colorado and around the country:

  • Tom Learner, Senior Scientist and head of contemporary art research, Getty Conservation Institute, Los Angeles.
  • Sarah Melching, Director of Conservation and paper conservator, Denver Art Museum.
  • Paulette Reading, textiles conservator, private practice.
  • Jude Southward, Chair of Department of Conservation and objects conservator, Denver Museum of Nature and Science.
  • James Squires, Chief Conservator, Clyfford Still Museum.
  • Camilla Van Vooren, Senior Paintings Conservator, Western Center for Conservation of Fine Arts, Denver.