Assistant Head Preparator

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Art (SFMOMA)

Reporting to the Head Preparator, Assistant Head Preparator manages a large team of expert preparators and related projects, in alignment with the museum’s strategic priorities and goals of the Collections Management department and the Collections, Exhibitions and Design (CED) division. The Assistant Head Preparator works closely with Head Preparator to plan and support the orchestration of art handling, movement, housing, packing/unpacking, framing, and installation/deinstallation in accordance with the museum’s standards, policies, and procedures for caring for, managing, and exhibiting modern and contemporary art. They work closely with the Registration, Curatorial, Conservation and Exhibitions and Program Management departments to ensure that art handling resources are planned and available for all museum program needs.

The Collections Management Department provides collections care and access to SFMOMA’s art collections, ensuring the safe handling and storage of artwork, and maintenance of our art storage spaces including the Collections Center, SFMOMA’s dynamic research and storage center. The department is also responsible for preparing, installing, activating, and maintaining art – both borrowed and collection works – for the museum’s robust exhibition program.

The Assistant Head Preparator assists in the oversight of art preparation operations, with direct management of Museum Preparator Is, Museum Preparator IIs, and on-call Museum Preparators.

Within the first month, the Assistant Head Preparator will have become familiar with the preparator team and the activities the team is responsible for, as well as introduced to our purchasing systems, exhibition development process, and roles and responsibilities of the departments Collections Management partners with, to be able to answer questions and source information for the preparator team and make appropriate preparator assignments. Within the first year the candidate will proactively further their institutional understanding, evaluation of preparator team skills and abilities, and become a positive contributor to the successful completion of collection and exhibition based projects.


Team Leadership

  • Act as a partner with department leadership in sustaining a collections management community where all team members have a productive and safe forum to share ideas, best practices, and learning, so they have a deeper sense of responsibility and contribution to collections care and audience engagement.

  • Be present at both museum locations, and other work sites as needed, to support preparator teams.

  • Model highly collaborative modes of operating through open communication with staff and respect for the diverse expertise essential to an art museum.

  • Maintain awareness of overall departmental and Collections, Exhibition & Design division activity and goals. Serve as a communicator of departmental and institutional goals and professional standards internally and externally.

  • Create and foster a diverse and inclusive work environment, recognizing conflict, and working towards positive resolution.

  • Share in developing and delivering ongoing training and professional development in collections management and art handling.

  • Demonstrate the ability to coach and influence others, communicate clearly, focus on explaining positive benefits, change practice and behavior, and share information and responsibility.

  • Participate in and lead seminars and workshops to keep abreast of best practices in the field as well as developing new skills to share within the department and with interdivisional partners.

Art Preparation and Collections Care

  • Collaborate with the Head Preparator on planning, prioritizing, and scheduling work such as generating and distributing weekly/daily schedules with anticipated goals and priorities; assessing resource needs and determining adjustments as required.

  • Assist with material research and ordering for exhibitions and collections projects. Track purchases, invoice processing, and related budget as needed.

  • Ensure the consistent application of the museum’s standards, policies, and procedures for art preparation, handling, rehousing, storage, installation/deinstallation, and transit. Draft and contribute to additional policies and procedures as needed to ensure alignment with contemporary museum standards and SFMOMA strategies.

  • Work, in collaboration with the Head Preparator, with the Fabrication and Gallery Infrastructure Manager to ensure proper training in proficient use of construction lifts (forklifts and scissor lifts) and woodshop equipment including portable and stationary power tools. Responsible for ensuring compliance with all legally required safety protocols.

  • Support preparators in use of museum systems and platforms for tracking project information and documenting installations/deinstallations, packing and other activities

  • Supervise art handling activities such as the installation and/or deinstallation of art on display, and may be asked to assist with physical preparator work occasionally.


  • Maintain the assignment, tracking, and reassignment of tasks/work/projects of Preparators I and II.

  • Address workplace conflict and progressive discipline of direct reports as needed.

  • Serves as acting Head Preparator when the Head Preparator is otherwise occupied.

  • Possession of bachelor’s degree or equivalent level of college coursework. Background in visual art and art history, advanced carpentry skills or specialized art handling techniques, and some experience with art collection management preferred.

  • A minimum of five (5) years’ preparator experience. Minimum of one (1) year direct supervisory experience.

  • Strong leadership and communication skills.

  • Initiative, strong organization, and follow-through skills, and an ability to operate under pressure of time and multiple demands.

  • Ability to coordinate and supervise activities of a large team.

  • Ability to learn collection management system, project management software, and Microsoft applications (Outlook, Teams, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.)required.

  • Demonstrated knowledge of proper techniques for handling works of art, including those for installing exhibitions, crating, packing and unpacking objects.

  • Demonstrated concern for detail, accuracy and neat execution of work

  • Knowledge of safety procedures related to the professional museum environment, fabrication sand frame shop environment, and an interest in adherence and advancement of a sustainable institution.

  • Passion for collaborating with a wide range of constituents including supervisors, vendors, artists, museum colleagues across departments, museum donors, visiting scholars and student groups.

  • Successful candidates will have a strong commitment to access and sustainability.

How to Apply

To learn more about this position and to apply, please click on the provided link.

Posted on November 3