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Master’s programme in textile conservation and restoration

Our five-year textile conservation and restoration programme comprises a three-year bachelor’s degree in textile conservation followed by a two-year master’s in textile conservation and restoration. The programme is affiliated to Bern University of Applied Sciences (BFH) and is part of the Swiss Conservation-Restoration Campus (Swiss CRC). It is provided in close collaboration with the Division of Conservation and Restoration of Bern University of the Arts (HKB), a department of Bern University of Applied Sciences. The practical modules taught in the Abegg-Stiftung’s textile conservation studio form an essential part of the programme and are closely tied to the on-going activities of the institute.

Students who successfully complete the programme are awarded a Master of Arts in Conservation-Restoration (specialisation textiles), which is a fully accredited professional qualification to the standards of both Swiss and European professional associations.

The programme

The programme is taught mainly in the textile conservation studio of the Abegg-Stiftung, where the teaching is multi-level and students are able to specialise in textile conservation right from the start.

The bachelor course covers the principles of preventive conservation, textile conservation and general conservation and restoration. The introductory modules in preventive conservation, in scientific subjects and the humanities are taught at Bern University of the Arts (HKB), while the modules specifically concerned with textiles are taught by internal and external lecturers at the Abegg-Stiftung. A course in textile analysis at the Centre International d’Étude des Textiles Anciens (CIETA) in Lyon is also part of the programme. The practical modules taught in the textile conservation studio are central to the programme right from the start. The three-year bachelor’s degree ends with a thesis.

It is followed without interruption by the two-year, largely hands-on master’s degree in textile conservation and restoration. This comprises courses in the theory and practice of textile conservation supplemented by modules taught by the Swiss CRC and HKB. The programme ends with a master’s thesis.

The programme is a full-time programme. The Abegg-Stiftung offers students a stipend to cover their living expenses.

Admission requirements

The Abegg-Stiftung admits one student per year for the five-year programme.

To be eligible for the programme, candidates must be in possession of either a Swiss-accredited Berufsmatura (vocational school-leaving qualification) in combination with an apprenticeship in a field involving textiles or textile design or, alternatively, a Matura (academic school-leaving qualification) with proof of at least one year of regular work in textile conservation or in a field involving textiles or textile design. For applicants from abroad, the equivalent qualifications apply.

A good command of German – both passive and active – and at least a passive command of English are required.

Applications should be addressed to the Abegg-Stiftung and be accompanied by the usual documents (C.V., copies of educational qualifications etc.) as well as a handwritten letter explaining the candidate’s motivation for this choice of profession. Definitive admission to the programme depends on the results of an aptitude test taken approx. six months before the programme begins. The programme begins on the 1 July of each year.

The next free place is for 1 July 2023, applications for which must be received by the end of September 2022.

The master’s theses are applied research projects

The programme ends with a master’s thesis in the form of a scientific paper on the conservation of a specific textile object or group of textile objects. The exact subject will be drawn from the field of art technology and conservation or methods of scientific analysis or documentation, or will address specific problems of conservation and restoration. Depending on the objects and the questions raised, the thesis can focus on either the practice or the theory of textile conservation and restoration. It can be a self-contained project or part of a larger project. The last six months of the programme are set aside for work on the thesis under the guidance of a supervisor and co-supervisor. The finished thesis is presented in a public lecture. Previous theses can be viewed at the Abegg-Stiftung.

Internships and post-graduate internships for professional development

Students of textile conservation and restoration at other institutions can apply for internships of varying duration in the Abegg-Stiftung textile conservation studio. For the duration of their stay, interns take part in the on-going work of the studio and attend the advanced courses taught there alongside students of the Abegg-Stiftung. The Abegg-Stiftung does not offer preparatory internships.

Graduates of other institutions in possession of either a diploma or a master in textile conservation and restoration can apply for a post-graduate internship at the Abegg-Stiftung. These generally last twelve months and are linked to projects undertaken by the textile conservation studio.

Since the autumn semester 2011/2012, the Faculty of Humanities of the University of Bern (Universität Bern) and Bern University of Applied Sciences (BFH), Department Bern University of the Arts (HKB) have offered the interdisciplinary doctoral programme Studies in the Arts (SINTA) to which students and graduates of the Abegg-Stiftung are also welcome to apply.


Swiss Conservation-Restoration Campus

The Abegg-Stiftung’s partner institutions in the Swiss CRC are:

Bern University of the Arts (HKB)
Haute École Arc in Neuchâtel
Scuola universitaria professionale della Svizzera italiana (SUPSI)

Die Abegg-Stiftung is affiliated to Bern University of Applied Sciences

Students of the Abegg-Stiftung attend two two-week courses at the Centre International d‘Étude des Textiles Anciens in Lyon

The University of Bern Institute of Art History offers a master’s degree in the History of Textile Arts

Graduates in conservation/restoration from Bern University of Applied Sciences are also eligible for the doctoral programme Studies in the Arts (SINTA)

European Network for Conservation-Restoration Education

Links to professional associations

Schweizerischer Verband für Konservierung und Restaurierung

Verband der Restauratoren VdR (Germany)

European Confederation of Conservator-Restorers’ Organisations (E.C.C.O)