Lead Preparator – Sarasota Art Museum, Ringling College of Art & Design, FL

The Lead Preparator will report directly to the Director of Exhibitions. This position will be a vital member of the small but dynamic curatorial team, working closely with operations, facilities, public safety, and visitor experience staff.
The Lead Preparator is responsible for all aspects of museum art handling, exhibition-related fabrication and preparation, installation and deinstallation of galleries, gallery maintenance, receiving and shipping artwork, packing and storage of art objects. This role requires precise attention to detail, strong communication and analytical skills, as well as the abilities to manage multiple projects simultaneously and to work collaboratively and diplomatically across departments.

1. Work collaboratively with staff in the planning, preparation, installation, and deinstallation of museum exhibitions using a high level of organization, communication, and time management skills to ensure that all American Alliance of Museums (AAM) best practices and personal safety and museum industry standards are met.
2. In consultation with Senior Curator and Director of Exhibitions, assist in determining detailed production schedules and estimating time and cost involved with each project.
3. Work closely with the Facilities Manager and Office of Public Safety to ensure exhibition design and fabrication follow proper building codes, meet engineering and public safety standards, and are ADA compliant.
4. Organize and lead independent exhibition-related contractors and manage all related administrative functions.
5. Assist Director of Exhibitions with the planning, prioritizing, and scheduling of daily activities in the areas of exhibition rotations.
6. Prepare galleries for installations, including fabrication and installation of temporary walls and various exhibition components (cases, mounts, pedestals, etc.), matting and framing of artwork, and gallery lighting design and implementation.
7. Coordinate the receiving, un/packing, un/crating, de/installation and storage of artwork, and safe movement of artwork.
8. Work closely with the Facilities Manager to coordinate regular maintenance of gallery floors, and to ensure back of house and art storage areas are in compliance with environmental health and safety inspection standards; follow up on action items from report as necessary.
9. Perform routine gallery checks and maintenance; check and maintain condition and lighting of artwork on display.

10. Implement appropriate art handling procedures to ensure the safety of artwork.

11. Maintain an up-to-date inventory of tools and supplies integral to installation and deinstallation and related activities, ordering supplies as required, workshop.

12. Operate various equipment, including but not limited to scissor lifts, forklifts, woodshop tools and equipment, etc.

13. Prepare and secure select artwork in the museum and on the grounds for hurricane and emergency response preparedness.

14. Other duties as assigned by Executive Director, Senior Curator, and Director of Exhibitions.

To perform this job successfully, an individual must be able to complete each essential duty to a degree of high quality and expertise. Representative of the required knowledge, skill, and ability are:
1. Knowledge of art handling techniques, practices and principles, and associated materials.

2. Familiarity with museum industry standards and best practices as outlined by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM).
3. Ability to interpret and follow written and verbal directions, implement them, and communicate those instructions to others in written, oral, diagram and schedule forms.

4. Ability to maintain project and exhibition workflow according to project schedules, with a variety of tasks and deadlines.
5. Ability to provide exhibition project deliverables on time, within budget, and with the highest possible quality.

6. Knowledge of environmental and safety rules, regulations, and policies.

7. Ability to conduct job site inspections to ensure compliance.

8. Ability to remain flexible, solve problems, and prioritize needs in a variety of situations.

9. Ability to work collaboratively as a team.

10. High emotional intelligence, and exceptional interpersonal skills.


  • High school diploma.
  • 2-5 years working full-time in an art museum.
  • Experience working on complex art installation projects and handling, installing, and packing artwork, implementation of exhibitions, and building of gallery furniture/walls.
  • Proven record and confidence working with woodshop tools and fabrication techniques, as well as basic knowledge of building construction and general mechanical maintenance.
  • Experience in the use of powered lifts, handling trucks, forklifts, and other forms of moving equipment in the galleries.
  • Proficiency in MS Office.
  • Possession of a valid Florida driver’s license or ability to obtain one.


  • Prior experience leading an installation crew of art handlers.
  • Proficiency in SketchUp or other digital 3D modeling software.
  • Exhibition design experience.
  • Experience in the use of forklifts and other rigging equipment for outdoor sculpture.
  • Ability to work extended hours as necessary.


The work environment and physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job:

  • Frequent use of power tools, table saws, and other woodworking equipment
  • Frequent standing, walking and bending
  • Occasional stooping, climbing ladders and scaffolding
  • Moderate lifting (at least 50 pounds)
  • Occasional use of a scissor lift, pallet jack, A-frames, hand truck, forklift, and other art and exhibit loading and moving equipment

The noise level in the work environment is usually quiet; however, there will be high noise levels when using power tools in the fabrication shop, requiring use of appropriate personal safety equipment (e.g. safety glasses, earplugs, work gloves, etc.).

On occasion, the incumbent will be required to work into evenings or on weekends and holidays to fulfill the obligations of meeting exhibition project deadlines.

Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

Ringling College of Art and Design is an Equal Opportunity Employer.  The College provides equal employment opportunity to all persons without regard to sex, age, gender, color, race, national or ethnic origin, religion, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, veteran status, genetic information, or any other basis prohibited by law.

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