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Head of Conservation Unit at the Natural History Museum of Denmark (NHMD)

The Natural History Museum of Denmark is seeking an experienced natural history conservator to establish and manage a Conservation Unit which is to be established at the NHMD.
The position is available from 1 August 2021 or as soon thereafter. Currently the position is funded for a 3 year period with a possibility for extension, if funding can be obtained.

In the coming years, the primary focus of the Conservation Unit will be to conserve, prepare and install objects for the new permanent galleries which are currently being developed in connection with the build of a new national Natural History Museum in the midst of Copenhagen. Currently, seven exhibition core groups are developing the content of the new permanent galleries, which are planned to open to the public in October 2024.
The objects to be prepared for the new exhibits include mainly specimens from the museum’s vast collections, but will also include preparations of new acquisitions and taxidermy.

Beside managing and coordinating the preparation efforts, once the Conservation Unit is etablished (see responsibilities of this unit below), the initial tasks of the Head of Conservation will be to map and plan for the preparation needs in regard to the object requirements of the seven core exhibitions teams, develop a hiring strategy based on those needs, and subsequently employ relevant preparator specialists – either inhouse or via outsourcing to private contractors.
The museum wishes to ensure that the preparations on display in the new galleries will be state of the art, while ensuring compliance with international museum standards and best practices. It is the overall responsibility of the Head of Conservation to fulfill these goals within the current deadline and budget.

The ideal candidate has documented international experience in preparing objects for and setting up larger natural history exhibitions. Besides having extensive knowledge of all aspects of preparation of natural history objects, the successful candidate should be comfortable heading a larger interdisciplinary team and be able to work in a fast-paced environment with many collaborators; curators, collection managers, exhibition staff, designers and external contractors.

Responsibilities for Head of Conservation Unit include, but are not limited to:

  • Creating a Conservation Unit within the given budget
  • Developing and managing a timeline for the necessary object preparation effort related to the new exhibits
  • Developing and managing the daily budget for these preparation efforts
  • Hiring in object preparation personnel with relevant competencies (on short- or long-term contracts ), in order to get all the desired objects prepared and installed in time for the exhibit opening
  • Daily management of the Conservation Unit, including personnel management of both permanent and temporary staff, and coordinating and designating tasks to the people hired on the exhibition development budget
  • Reporting to the Collections Management Section/Exhibition Unit on budget and progress on object preparations
  • Surveying the daily operation of the conservation laboratories and supervising staff

  • Education as conservator/taxidermist or equivalent
  • Documented (international) experience with object preparation for natural history exhibitions (as project manager)
  • Team leadership experience
  • Experience from an active Conservation lab
  • Extensive knowledge of all aspects of preparation of natural history objects (fx taxidermy, geological preparations, fluid preparations etc.), and/or knowledge of where to obtain the relevant expertise
  • Knowledge and skills to research, handle, investigate, clean, stabilise and care for collection artefacts through knowledge about the materials and methods used for the preparation of natural history collections objects
  • Ability to manage complex projects
  • Extensive professional network
  • Good communication and writing skills, both general but in particular on technical issues.
  • Enthusiasm and ability to work effectively in collaboration with others
  • As a minimum fluent in English (written and spoken)
The Conservation Unit will be overall responsible for all conservation related issues regarding object preparation for the new exhibitions;

  • Preparing all exhibition objects for display; mapping object preparation demands from exhibition core teams, assessing and determining the appropriate preparation strategy for all specimens to be displayed, creating object and risk assessments and coordinating the conservation effort in order to get the specimens ready for the galleries. Competencies that are not within the team, must be hired or objects may have to be bought from private contractors
  • Making recommendations in areas relevant to the new exhibitions, e.g. alcohol substitution, mounting possibilities, case display requirements, preventive conservation and climate conditions for object storage and objects on display in exhibits
  • Upgrading and managing existing conservation laboratories at the musem, including purchasing necessary goods in order to do the inhouse preparations
  • Setting up and managing storage facilities for prepared specimens and freezing/disinfecting specimens before putting them on display
  • Keeping updated on the newest ways of mounting and displaying collections in exciting and creative ways
  • Mounting of prepared specimens in the galleries
  • Ensure close collaboration with the collections staff, exhibit staff and internal and external preparators
About the Natural History Museum of Denmark

The Natural History Museum of Denmark is the Danish national museum for zoology, botany and geology, and it contains large global scientific collections of preserved animals, plants, fossils, and minerals. In its current form, the museum was established on 1 January 2004 by the merging of four long-standing institutions: the Botanic Garden, the Botanical Museum & Central Library, the Geological Museum, and the Zoological Museum.

The history of the Natural History Museum of Denmark and its collections can be traced back to the 17th century. A new museum of natural history is currently being built in the Botanical Garden ( and will present the museum with a number of big challenges in relation to the coming move of the collections, displays within new galleries and the establishment of new storage facilities.

The collection support staff collaborates with the Head of Collections, the scientific curators of the museum and the members of the exhibitions department in the curation of specimens, including preparation, preservation, registration, etc. The collection support staff is organized in a cross-cutting unit under the Head of Collections. The Natural History Museum of Denmark (NHMD) is part of the University of Copenhagen, and therefore host and supervise undergraduate, graduate and PhD students as well as postdocs that use the museum collections for their research. The museum is an international institution with many foreign students and researchers and English is widely used as working language.

The Exhibitions department at the Natural History Museum of Denmark are responsible for developing and delivering, alongside other museum staff, the new galleries of the new museum. In addition to this, the Exhibitions department works on a vibrant programme of high profile, temporary exhibitions for a range of audiences and gallery upgrades in existing locations.

Terms of salary and employment

The employment and salary is made in accordance with the Circular on the Collective Agreement concerning academics in the state sector concluded between the Ministry of Finance and AC (the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations).

Employment will be as senior consultant with personnel management. The basic salary is DKK 47,681 per month + pension. Negotiation for salary supplement is possible. The working time are 37 hours per week on average.

Your application

Applications are to be submitted electronically with a CV plus documentation for education and eventually letters of reference via Jobportalen (click on the link "Apply Now" at the bottom of the post). The application should be submitted no later than 18 June 2021, 23:59 GMT +2. Only electronic applications via Jobportalen are accepted.

The University of Copenhagen wishes to reflect the diversity of society and welcomes applications from all qualified candidates regardless of gender or personal background.

Additional information

More information about the position can be obtained from Head of Research & Collections Nikolaj Scharff ( or Section Head of Collections Management Majken Them Tøttrup (

More general information about the Natural History Museum of Denmark is available from our website

Salary and employment conditions are in accordance with the collective agreement between the Ministry of Finance and relevant Union. It is possible to negotiate additional salary according to documented previous experience and special qualifications.

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