Two hands in black latex gloves brushing and vacuuming a black wooden artwork by Louise Nevelson

Conservation is an integral part of the Museum’s mission to preserve its collections for the enrichment of present and future generations. The Conservation Department supports these goals through the long-term preservation of artworks under the stewardship of the Museum.  Our work includes  research, examination, conservation treatment, documentation, analysis, and preventive care of collections and loans. 

Conservation staff

Charlotte Ameringer, FAIC

Whats a conservator?

The people who do the specialized work of conservation are called Conservators.  Conservators are professionals with advanced training and specialized expertise in art history, materials science, connoisseurship, and conservation techniques. Following internationally recognized standards and ethics, Conservators seek to maintain the physical and aesthetic integrity of works of art. Conservators collaborate with many other departments at the Museum to enhance understanding of an artwork’s physical and cultural context.

PAM’s conservation history

Prior to the establishment of a Conservation Department, the Portland Art Museum’s conservation needs were undertaken by private/outside conservators who typically worked on-site for a month at a time. In 1972, at the cusp of the professionalization of the art conservation field in the United States, a conservation studio was created through grants from the Kress Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as through individual donations.  As part of the Rothko Pavilion Project the  conservation studio will be renovated and slightly enlarged.

Fun Fact

Due to the need for art conservators in the greater region and the need for monetary support for conservation efforts, a Ford Econovan — outfitted to travel as a mobile conservation studio — was donated to the department. The van traveled as far as Alaska to provide conservation to smaller institutions and individuals, but primarily served Oregon, Washington, Montana, and Idaho. As the department developed in those early years, it was funded through donations, grants, and charging for private work.

Conservation projects

S.A.M.@PAM – Desalinating a 17th Century Iranian Tile

s.a.m.@PAM: Conserving and Photographing Brancusi’s “A MUSE”

s.a.m. @ PAM: Suzuki Harunobu and Color in Japanese Prints


How can I support conservation projects?

If you’d like to donate to the Conservation Department, contact the Development Office at 503-276-4365. To learn more about supporting the Portland Art Museum, please consider donating.

Where can I find a Conservator in the area?

Try the Find a Conservator tool on the AIC website. If have trouble finding a local conservator, send an email to

There’s also a short guide on How to Choose a Conservator and printable guides on Caring for your Treasures

How do I become a Conservator?

Our Become a Conservator guide will help you learn more about the education and training and careers in the field of conservation. To find out more, get involved with the Emerging Conservation Professionals Network and check out the resources they are putting together.

Can I intern or volunteer in the Conservation Department?

We occasionally have internship and volunteer opportunities in the Conservation Department. Internships are listed on our careers page and our volunteer page lists volunteer opportunities.

Please direct questions about volunteering to

Professional organizations