Art Conservation Students Build a Career At Scripps College

The Claremont Colleges have many unique qualities that could draw someone to come to school here. The small class sizes, the consortium environment and the beautiful California weather are just a few of the possible draws to the school. However, for a group of Scripps students, the appeal was very specific: a major. Scripps College is the only college on the West Coast with an Art Conservation major. 

Pursuing a career in Art Conservation requires a specific background in classes in addition to extensive hands-on experience. Art Conservation major Katie Shulman ’15 explained, “You need at least 400 hours of internship experience to apply to graduate school.” To help students gain the experience necessary to continue in the field, Scripps offers three Wilson Internships, made possible by Jane Hurley Wilson and Michael G. Wilson. 

On March 26, Wilson Interns Katie Shulman ’15, Kaela Nurmi ’15, along with Turk Intern Bonnie Siler ’15 opened an art show they curated for the internship. The exhibit, “Drowning in Drought: Selections from the Scripps College Collections” explored the varying conditions in California. “We came up with the theme when it rained for a week after the drought,” Siler explained.

To curate the exhibit, the interns looked through the extensive Scripps College collection. They featured ten rarely displayed artworks and also provided historical context about the pieces and thematic elements to tie the works in the collection together. 

In addition to curating the exhibit, the interns also work eight hours a week with a conservator in LA who is helping them restore the Shakespeare plaster reliefs in Balch Hall.

A unique combination of art history and science, the major reflects the interdisciplinary emphasis of Scripps College. In addition to taking a wide variety of Art and Art History classes, Department Head Mary MacNaughton explained, “they take two years of chemistry—Intro and Organic—in addition to an advanced lab.” With a comprehensive education and hands-on experience, Art Conservation majors at Scripps are well equipped to enter the competitive field. 

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