Assistant Preparator / Preparator

Columbia Museum of Art

Under the supervision of the Exhibition Designer and Senior Preparator, the Assistant Preparator/Preparator is actively engaged on all levels with the presentation of exhibitions and installation of artwork, including permanent collection objects and loans from outside organizations, in alignment with the Columbia Museum of Art’s mission, vision, and core values. The position focuses on the care of artwork in a manner that is befitting of a fine arts museum. The Assistant Preparator/Preparator works in a variety of environments, including a standard shop environment with controlled exposure to fumes, dirt, noise, mechanical and electrical hazards associated with metal and woodworking crafts. The person occupying this role serves as an enthusiastic advocate for the Columbia Museum of Art within communities and the museum field.

  • Assisting the Exhibition Designer and Sr. Preparator, plus curatorial and interdepartmental colleagues, with all aspects of exhibition design and production (gallery color, layout, etc.), and contributing ideas as appropriate.

  • Fabricating mounts for three-dimensional works, including highly specialized mounts for diverse objects including furniture, designer clothing, and intricate glass.

  • Moving exhibition crates into, out of, and within the museum. Designing and modifying crates for various objects, especially those with delicate ornate frames or objects containing multi-part systems that may be high-tech in nature.

  • Packing and unpacking exhibition shipping crates.

  • Maintaining exhibition furniture such as bases, pedestals, and bonnets.

  • Installing two and three-dimensional works.

  • Installing and maintaining gallery lighting.

  • Tending day-to-day gallery needs and general upkeep.

  • Producing and installing exhibition signage.

  • Matting and framing works on paper in accordance with art conservation standards.

  • Picking up and/or delivering works of art and providing appropriate care for objects in transit.

  • Assisting in the maintenance of an appropriate inventory of collection are supplies in the service of day-to-day curatorial operations.

  • Supervising contractors or interns as related to projects assigned by the Exhibition Designer and Senior Preparator and/or the Director of Art and Learning.

  • Assisting in the preparation of Collections Committee meetings to display proposed acquisitions and deaccessions.

  • Working with curatorial staff in the development of long- and short-range plans for exhibitions and permanent collection rotations.

  • Other duties as assigned.

  • Demonstrated understanding and commitment to the presentation of art and design in a sophisticated manner.

  • Ability to climb ladders, scaffolding, and operate electric lifts.

  • Proficiency with, or ability to learn how to operate vinyl cutter and associated software; capacity to regularly update computer skills.

  • Ability to lift, push, pull, support, and carry loads of 50 lbs. in and out of trucks.

  • Experience framing and/or handling artwork.

  • Experience in use of power tools and a familiarity with tools needed to fabricate and install signage in various media, including metal, wood, and plastic.

  • Experience in, and/or ability to develop mount-making skills.

  • Possesses a strong sense of priority and follow-through.

  • Exhibit organizational, analytical, and problem-solving strengths as well as situational flexibility.

  • Possess creative ideas and passion for the job.

  • Possess a valid driver’s license and passport or the ability to obtain one.

  • Proactively model the importance of timely collegial interaction, personal accountability, maturity, professionalism, communication, and exchange across disciplinary boundaries.

  • Prior preparatory and/or art handling experience of 2+ years in an art museum setting necessary to be considered for Preparator.

  • This position requires a criminal background check.

How to Apply

The Columbia Museum of Art is an Equal Opportunity Employer, committed to diversity, accessibility, equity, and inclusion. Confidential inquiries, applications, and recommendations are welcome. Please email cover letter and resume to Michael Neumeister, Senior Curator at with “Assistant Preparator” in the subject.

Posted on May 20