Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art: Senior Preparator, Exhibitions

Position Overview:

Reporting to the Lead Preparator, the Senior Preparator for Exhibitions assists with all technical aspects of museum-quality art handling related to exhibitions and the maintenance of art objects in the Museum buildings and on the grounds, including: receiving, shipping, packing, framing, mounting and storage. This position assists with the maintenance of exhibition spaces, shop areas, and storage areas. The Senior Preparator for Exhibitions is responsible for leading installations of special exhibitions, and managing a focus team concentrating on exhibition preparation and the care and installation of loans to the Museum.   

Principal Responsibilities (Essential Functions)

  • Under the supervision of the Lead Preparator, act as project leader for specific projects in varying disciplines of exhibition preparation, such as furniture fabrication, lighting design, and mount making. Project management includes planning, scheduling, contractor oversight, and ordering inventory of necessary materials.
  • Under general supervision by the Lead Preparator, the Senior Preparator for Exhibitions is responsible for the assignment and management of projects and tasks on his or her focus team.
  • Work with Exhibitions, Curatorial, Registration, and Operations to manage all aspects of special exhibition installation throughout the Museum.
  • Work with visiting artists or studio assistants to realize site-specific artist installations.
  • Coordinate the installation and maintenance of outdoor sculpture loans in conjunction with the Lead Preparator and Trails & Grounds.
  • Manage all loading and unloading of art trucks in a timely and efficient manner.
  • Manage the unpacking and packing of artwork and exhibition furniture.
  • Assist registrars with condition reporting all incoming and outgoing loans of artwork, objects, and artifacts.
  • Under the direction of the Lead Preparator, design and fabricate safe housing for artwork, objects, and artifacts for temporary storage and transportation purposes.
  • Ensure the safe movement and handling of art objects of all media.
  • Work with Exhibitions and Curatorial to implement exhibition lighting.
  • Manage the matting and framing of artwork for exhibition purposes
  • Assist in maintaining an inventory of tools, supplies, and materials.
  • Assist in maintaining organized, clean, and functional working spaces, including the Prep Studio, art storage, loading dock, woodshop, and pedestal/crate storage.
  • Act as courier, as assigned, to accompany exhibitions and supervise installation.
  • Supervise departmental staff, independent contractors, and interns, as assigned.
  • Complete all additional assigned tasks and requests for the general support of the Collections Management department and museum functions.

Minimum Qualifications

Education, Training, and Traits:

  • B.A. in an art related field
  • Knowledge of art-handling procedures for two- and three-dimensional art objects in a variety of materials, sizes and weights.
  • Strong technical skills in basic construction, fabrication and installation methods; proper use and care of power and manual tools, lifts, and other pertinent equipment.
  • Proficiency in the use of standard office equipment and software.
  • Skilled in handling all media of art and familiar with installation techniques.
  • Working knowledge of hand tools and math applications.

Work Experience:

  • Minimum of 5 years museum or gallery experience in art handling, exhibition installation, packing and storage. 
  • Minimum of 1 year proven supervisory and management experience.

In regard to education and experience, an equivalent combination of relevant education and/or experience will satisfy the minimum requirements.

Licenses and Certifications:

  • Valid Driver’s License

Skills and Abilities:

  • Excellent organizational and time management skills
  • Skilled and detail-oriented trouble-shooter and problem-solver
  • Good verbal and written communication skills
  • Advanced knowledge of art preparation techniques and practices
  • Ability to manage and motivate a team during projects and on a daily basis
  • Highly motivated and goal oriented
  • Ability to understand and maintain the highest levels of confidentiality

Physical Demands and Work Environment:

The physical demands and work environment characteristics described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this position. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

  • Physical demands:  In the work environment described below, position requires verbal and written conversation with others, sitting, standing, walking, bending, climbing, reaching, strenuous lifting/moving objects up to 50 pounds, and use of hands to finger, handle, or feel objects, tools, or controls. Position requires use of hands to safely handle and move art objects according to the most current approved museum standards. Position periodically requires standing for prolonged periods of time. Vision abilities required by the job include close vision.
  • Work Environment:  The majority of work will be performed in an office, workshop or museum gallery environment. The noise level in the work environment is usually low to moderate. Work requires periodic transport of packed art works and exhibition furniture and equipment to and from local off-site storage facilities. Position requires some independent overnight travel. Occasional evening and weekend work are required.


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