The Museum Conservation Institute (MCI) is the Smithsonian's center for specialized technical collections research and conservation, where knowledge of materials and the history of technology are combined with state-of-the-art instrumentation and scientific techniques to provide technical research studies and interpretation of artistic, anthropological, biological, and historical objects.

Learn more about this agency


With direction from the Under Secretary for Science and Research, the incumbent develops and implements MCI's strategic plan for conservation and preservation research and education programs and resource acquisition. Provides leadership, vision, and direction in the development and conduct of conservation and preservation programs and projects. Formulates overall MCI program goals and objectives, and develops short- and long-range plans to accomplish program objectives. Develops and implements an organizational vision consistent with the Secretary's goals and strategies for the institution. Oversees and coordinates the research activities of the various units within MCI and for integrating them into the overall project objectives. Creates a work environment that encourages creative thinking, while maintaining focus, intensity and persistence.

Reviews and approves proposals for new and expanded conservation and preservation programs and projects. Provides leadership and guidance in modifying and/or improving the proposed projects. Monitors all aspects of research activities, and assesses research progress. Considers the advisability of modifications, expansion, reduction or adaptation to other internal programs and activities, and issues necessary directives to accomplish such actions. Periodically reviews all research programs, with the advice of a Visiting Committee, to determine needs for continuation or complete elimination.

Develops and approves operating policies and procedures. Establishes performance standards for the staff and evaluates their accomplishments. Makes major policy and program decisions including matters of funding, staffing (to ensure advanced knowledge and experience in several areas of physical and chemical science, conservation, education, etc), organization, and facilities/equipment requirements to maximize resources. Develops and administers policies to achieve management objectives in such areas as equal employment opportunity and management-employee relations. Develops budget requirements, estimates and justifications. In consultation with the staff, originates and designs projects for expanding the scientific research activities of the center. Implements an external development program and oversees an aggressive program of external grant and contract support.

Promotes collaborative scientific and technical research aimed at improved care for Smithsonian and other collections. Assists and supports the Smithsonian's administration in the design and implementation of strategies that pursue excellence in collections management and dissemination of results. Directs the treatment of artifacts from the collections of the Smithsonian, ranging from prehistoric to space-age in order to achieve results agreed with the curator responsible.

Oversees the advisement of Smithsonian staff members, other museums and individual conservators, both in the U.S. and internationally, on research results and on appropriate methods of treatment for specific objects. Builds national and international collaborations and partnerships. Directs improved customer services, integrating the Center's work into the work of the Smithsonian museums.

Supervisory status

Promotion Potential


Conditions of Employment

  • Pass Pre-Employment Background Investigation
  • Maintain a Bank Account for Direct Deposit/Electronic Transfer



A degree in physical science, engineering, or mathematics that included 24 semester hours in physical science and/or related engineering science such as mechanics, dynamics, properties of materials, and electronics.

-OR –

Combination of education and experience – education equivalent to one of the majors shown above that included at least 24 semester hours in physical science and/or related engineering science, plus appropriate experience or additional education.

In addition, applicants must have one year of specialized experience at or equivalent to the GS-15 level. Specialized experience is defined as leading and managing a multi-discipline, collections-based research organization or program within a larger entity related to conservation and preservation.

The applications that meet the basic qualifications will be evaluated further against the following criteria:

1. Demonstrated experience in planning, directing and managing a collections-based research program. This should include experience in formulating and implementing strategic priorities, goal setting, establishing metrics and reporting protocols with scientific and administrative staff.

2. Demonstrated acumen with initiating, developing and stewarding relationships with board members, individual donors, corporate sponsors, foundations and government funders. This should include a successful track record of funded grant proposals and partnerships with the public and private sectors.

3. Possess strong interpersonal and communication skills to build relationships and negotiate solutions that address varied and complex, and occasionally opposing interests among varied audiences.

4. Demonstrated skill and ability as an executive in leading, supervising, challenging, inspiring, and managing a multi-disciplined and culturally diverse workforce. This should include attracting, retaining and motivating employees and displaying a commitment to the EEO/Affirmative Action programs.


Additional information

The incumbent reports to the Under Secretary for Science and Research (USSR) for the Smithsonian Institution. Within broad policy guidelines and objectives, the incumbent is expected to exercise a maximum degree of technical and managerial responsibility for accomplishing program objectives. The incumbent keeps the Under Secretary informed concerning issues and decisions, and particularly about critical matters affecting financial management programs and activities. Work performed is appraised primarily in terms of overall effectiveness in achieving program goals and objectives.

This position has been reviewed to determine the level of POSITION SENSITIVITY. Based on the nature of the work, the position has been determined to be Public Trust/HIGH RISK. This designation will require 1) a pre-employment Security Agency Check (SAC) for the prospective incumbent; and 2) a subsequent comprehensive background investigation and favorable adjudication in order to continue in the position.

The Smithsonian Institution does not discriminate against any employee or any applicant for employment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, political affiliation, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, age, membership in an employee organization or other non-merit factors.

The Smithsonian provides reasonable accommodation to applicants with disabilities. If you need an accommodation for any part of the application and hiring process, please notify the contact person listed in this announcement. The decision on granting a reasonable accommodation will be made on a case-by-case basis.

Relocation expenses will not be paid.

How You Will Be Evaluated

You will be evaluated for this job based on how well you meet the qualifications above.

The qualifications listed in this document will be used along with your resume and your responses to the questions posed in the electronic application process to determine the candidates who will move forward in the evaluation process. When preparing your responses to the questions, please provide concise, detailed information on your background and experience.

Important Note: Your resume and supporting documentation will be compared to your responses to the occupational questionnaire or other assessment tool for consistency. If a determination is made that you have rated yourself higher than supported by your resume, you will be assigned a rating commensurate to your described experience. Your resume should provide sufficient information regarding how your education and experience relate to the major duties and qualifications criteria listed for this position.

PART-TIME OR UNPAID EXPERIENCE: Credit will be given for appropriate unpaid work on the same basis as for paid experience. Part-time experience will be credited on the basis of time actually spent in appropriate activities. To receive credit for such experience you must indicate clearly the nature of the duties and responsibilities in each position held and the average number of hours per week spent in such employment.

To preview questions please click here .

Background checks and security clearance

Security clearance

Drug test required

Required Documents

Your resume

Unofficial school transcripts, if the position has an education requirement or if you are using education to qualify. If selected for the position, you must provide an official transcript before appointment.

Proof of U.S. accreditation for foreign study, if applicable.

If you are relying on your education to meet qualification requirements:

Education must be accredited by an accrediting institution recognized by the U.S. Department of Education in order for it to be credited towards qualifications. Therefore, provide only the attendance and/or degrees from schools accredited by accrediting institutions recognized by the U.S. Department of Education .

Failure to provide all of the required information as stated in this vacancy announcement may result in an ineligible rating or may affect the overall rating.

More jobs: