CHIEF PREPARATOR – The Allen Memorial Art Museum (AMAM) at Oberlin College

The Allen Memorial Art Museum (AMAM) at Oberlin College is seeking applicants for the position of Chief Preparator. This is a continuing 12-month Administrative and Professional Staff position reporting directly to the registrar and indirectly to the director of the museum. The Chief Preparator will supervise a full-time Assistant Preparator, and will work closely with all museum staff, including the registrars, curators, publications manager, and security officers. The position requires a unique skill set that combines practical knowledge and experience with an ability to think critically and resourcefully.  The successful candidate must have highly developed exhibit preparation and organizational capabilities, flexibility, and a desire to thrive in a collaborative environment. AMAM staff is committed to presenting world-class exhibitions and programs, contributing to the curriculum of Oberlin College, and to the enjoyment of a broad general public through use of the museum’s comprehensive art collection.

Responsibilities: The incumbent is responsible for fulfilling collections handling assignments while adhering to generally-accepted best practices for museum object care, display, movement, and storage. The Chief Preparator will be expected to implement the safe art handling of a broad range of media from a collection of 15,000 objects. He or she will be expected to move fluidly among museum assignments, using sound judgment and meeting deadlines. Specific responsibilities include:

  • Preparation of works of art for display, including matting, hinging, framing, and mounting
  • Installation and production of exhibitions, which includes appropriate lighting and may sometimes involve audio/visual components
  • Art packing, unpacking, and crating, including fabrication of storage containers, packing cases and crates
  • Moving artworks as needed and coordinating the art movements for incoming and outgoing loans, accessions, classes, presentations, programs, exhibitions, and storage, in conjunction with the registrars and curators
  • Maintenance and environmental monitoring of 13,000 square feet of public gallery space, which includes installing and maintaining light fixtures and light levels; painting and repairing walls; dusting of cases, vitrines, frames, and art objects; and monitoring and changing hygrothermograph charts
  • Preparation and/or fabrication of exhibition furniture, bases, pedestals, cases, shelving, vitrines, frames, mounts, barriers and risers; light wall construction; and preparing and mounting object labels and fabricating signs
  • Inventory, ordering, and maintenance of exhibition furniture, lighting supplies, crates, props, paint, construction materials, and exhibition and packing supplies and working with outside vendors, contractors, and College purchasing personnel to secure same
  • Maintaining and organizing preparator workspace and equipment, and assisting in managing art storage spaces
  • Maintenance of several outdoor sculptures
  • Planning and initiating complex or multiple-day assignments
  • Supervision of a full-time Assistant Preparator
  • When necessary, liaising with the registrars to hire, train, and supervise contract workers, determining time and workforce needs and ensuring that work is completed according to stipulated prices and agreements
  • Working collaboratively with other museum staff members and volunteers, as well as with outside professionals, scholars, faculty, students, senior administration, collectors, and artists
  • Serving as building representative, and acting as liaison with the museum director and College physical plant/facilities and security personnel, as well as pest control contractors and janitorial personnel
  • Preparation for the semi-annual Art Rental program, which involves working two Saturday mornings each year
  • Working in conjunction with the director, registrar, and curators to develop and maintain installation schedules and shared calendars
  • Working with other staff for the safety and security of works on exhibition and in storage
  • Accurate and timely maintenance of art movement logs and other record-keeping related to collection inventory control
  • Setting out chairs, tables, easels, screens, and other equipment for events, and safely moving equipment and materials through galleries and in storage areas
  • Other duties as assigned


  • Bachelor’s degree is required; MA or MFA is preferred
  • Extensive experience in fine art handling and installation, with a minimum of five years’ experience in a museum or gallery setting as a fine art preparator; prior experience in a lead or supervisory capacity is strongly preferred
  • Demonstrated experience handling paintings, sculpture, works on paper, textiles, and related media, and of matting and framing
  • Knowledge of industry-accepted conservation mounting techniques and materials for works on paper, and of conservation matting and framing including mat cutting, frame chopping and joining, and glazing
  • Experience with fine art packing, crating, and transportation best practices
  • Ability to organize and plan schedules within a changing work environment while adhering to the time-sensitive nature of museum production work, and to coordinate several tasks simultaneously
  • Ability to move confidently among a sizeable range of media and to properly analyze the physical requirements and the inherent risks associated with object handling
  • Superb communication skills, both verbal and written, computer literacy, and prompt attention to email and phone communications
  • Strong interpersonal skills, collegiality towards colleagues, and a demonstrated ability to work effectively individually and as part of a team, as well as an ability both to take direction and to act independently and decisively, while understanding fully the responsibilities associated with museum productions
  • Working knowledge of artists’ methods, materials, and techniques, as well as a general knowledge of art history; strong design ability is preferred
  • Excellent organizational and problem-solving skills, and ability to manage multiple projects effectively
  • A high degree of professionalism, close attention to detail, self-motivation, and ability to meet deadlines
  • Demonstrated proficiency in carpentry skills and use of shop tools and equipment; comfort in climbing ladders and scaffolding and operating aerial lifts, along with ability to lift, push, pull, and support heavy objects, crates, and other items
  • Knowledge of environmental and safety rules, and promotion of a culture of safety
  • Valid driver’s license and ability to arrange for the pickup and delivery of exhibition furniture from off-site facilities; at times the incumbent may need to purchase and/or collect museum equipment and supplies from local vendors
  • Supervisory experience
  • Willingness to work occasional evening and weekend hours, including two Art Rental Saturday mornings each year; occasional after-hours on-call support; in emergency situations, ability to respond after-hours
  • Experience and willingness to act as museum courier on regional, national, and international trips
  • Finalist will be required to successfully complete a background check

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Compensation: Within the range established for this position, salary will be commensurate with qualifications and experience; the position includes an excellent benefits package.

To Apply: Candidates should submit a letter of application, resume, and names, addresses, and phone numbers of three references by July 20, 2019 via Oberlin College’s PeopleAdmin portal at All applications must be received via the PeopleAdmin portal; if you have a question, please contact Sally Moffitt, AMAM Administrative Assistant, at  Applications received after the deadline may be considered.

About the Allen Memorial Art Museum (AMAM): For more than a century, Oberlin College has been committed to promoting direct study of original works of art to foster visual literacy and a deeper understanding of the diversity of the world’s cultures. Today, the AMAM houses an encyclopedic collection of more than 15,000 objects selected to provide a comprehensive overview of the history of art and is recognized as one of the best academic museums in the country. The AMAM serves a broad regional audience and operates on the premise that learning about art is important for everyone, a principle demonstrated by free public admission, offered since its founding in 1917.

The museum complex includes a 1917 building designed by Cass Gilbert. In the 1970s, Robert Venturi designed a gallery dedicated to the presentation of modern and contemporary art, the architect’s first museum commission. The AMAM also shares responsibility with Oberlin College for a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed house, the first Usonian house in Ohio, located in Oberlin. For more information, visit the AMAM website at:

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