Senior Preparator position at Colby College Museum of Art

01 Oct 2019 5:30 PM | Anonymous member


Colby College Museum of Art

Full-Time, Exempt, Salaried, Administrative Staff Appointment

The senior preparator is a multifaceted, multi-skilled position, entrusted with the physical care and handling and installation of the museum’s art collection and exhibition loans. The senior preparator is responsible for the handling, movement, preparation, matting, framing, installing, and packing of artwork in the collection of the Museum and on loan to the Museum. The position requires a high level of responsibility and skillful prioritization, and the senior preparator must be able to multi-task effectively and manage several projects at once. Working closely with colleagues on the collections and curatorial and engagement teams, this position will be called upon to help with all matters pertaining to the physical production of an exhibition as well as ongoing stewardship and daily care of the collection. The senior preparator is responsible for identifying, hiring, and training a skilled crew of part-time art handling personnel and effectively coordinating teamwork on installations and collection care.

Founded in 1959, the Colby College Museum of Art is a teaching museum, destination for American art, and a place for engagement with local and global communities. Located on the Colby College campus in Waterville, Maine, the Museum holds more than 10,000 works of art and offers more than 38,000 square feet of exhibition space. Major works by American artists including Albert Bierstadt, Winslow Homer, James McNeill Whistler, Mary Cassatt, and William Merritt Chase form the core of the historical collection, along with significant holdings of American folk art. The modern movement is represented by artists including John Marin, Marsden Hartley, Georgia O’Keeffe, Jacob Lawrence, Joan Mitchell, Isamu Noguchi, and Alma Thomas. The Museum also maintains a significant collection of contemporary American art including works by Alex Katz, Agnes Martin, Sol LeWitt, Maya Lin, Kara Walker, Elizabeth Murray, Martin Puryear, Terry Winters, and Julie Mehretu. Other principal areas of the collection include Greek and Roman antiquities, European prints and drawings, and early Chinese art. 

Works in the collection strengthen the Museum’s mission to offer Colby students new perspectives on their classroom studies and expand their understanding of diverse subjects through art. The recent donation of more than 1,500 artworks from Paula and Peter Lunder expands that scope, and the creation of the Lunder Institute for American Art enhances the Museum’s engagement with scholarly and creative production. The Museum welcomes more than 3,500 Maine school children each year and offers a vibrant calendar of family and public programs that are free and open to all. In addition, the Museum serves as a key contributor to the revitalization of downtown Waterville through its membership in Waterville Creates! and its active participation in the programmatic initiatives of Colby College. 

Established in 2017, the Lunder Institute for American Art supports innovative research and creative production that expands the boundaries of American art. The Lunder Institute invites visiting artists, scholars, and fellows to engage across disciplines with Colby faculty and students, the College’s network of institutional partners, leading experts, and other creative collaborators. Through incubator grants, fellowships, and symposia addressing regional and global concerns, the Lunder Institute amplifies marginalized voices, challenges convention, and provides a platform for generative dialogue through art and scholarship. 

The Colby Museum is deeply committed to strengthening diversity, inclusion, and equity across all strategic and programmatic areas of the Museum, actively building a multiplicity of perspectives and backgrounds represented on our staff and Board of Governors, outreach to diverse audiences, inclusive exhibitions and programs, and a broad-based, expansive collection. We encourage inquiries from candidates who will contribute to the diversity of our college, including its cultural and ethnic diversity.


  • Preparation, matting and framing, basic collections care, and basic cleaning of objects in the museum collection
  • Design and fabricate archival mounts, boxes, trays, etc. for the long-term storage of artworks in the collection
  • With registrar for collections, manage correct housing of collection objects and packing/crating for shipment
  • Maintain accurate storage location of artwork, reporting daily to the registrar for collections on the movement of each artwork to be entered into the database
  • Perform all duties related to exhibition preparation including, but not limited to, framing, preparing, hanging, moving of heavy sculpture, installation, de-installation, packing, shipping, and receiving artwork
  • Consult as needed on exhibition design elements; work with artists and museum team on site-specific installations
  • Move object cases and other exhibit furniture, install art in all media – mount vinyl text, object labels, photographs and other didactic exhibition material; design and fabricate museum mounts for small objects
  • Coordinate necessary part-time staff and materials for gallery preparation, supervising, training, scheduling, and hiring part-time art handling staff
  • Order supplies and materials for the framing and packing shop and budget costs for exhibitions and permanent collection supplies and operational expenditures
  • Assist with budget preparation and tracking of installation/deinstallation-related expenses
  • Maintain inventory of exhibition furniture, crates, and frames and arrange transportation of frames, furniture, and crates from offsite storage to Museum
  • Occasional travel with objects required for exhibitions and installations
  • Perform additional duties as assigned; duties, responsibilities, and activities may change at any time with or without notice


  • Bachelor’s degree or the equivalent in education and experience
  • 3-5 years of experience with the care and handling of fine art objects in a museum setting
  • Knowledge of museum standards and best practices for the care and handling of objects and materials used for housing and installation
  • Manual dexterity and care in the handling of art objects and ability to carefully follow established procedures
  • Experience cutting mats, hinging, and framing works on paper; framing canvases; basic carpentry skills and tools
  • Knowledge of standard tools, practices, and methods in painting, rough and finish carpentry, and cabinet work as well as use of materials such as various kinds of lumber, fabrics, plastics, mechanical fasteners, and adhesives
  • Experience in safe operation and maintenance of hand and power tools, hydraulic lifts, and specialized equipment
  • Ability to interpret and produce work from architectural/design plans and fabrication shop drawings
  • Excellent organizational skills; ability to see projects through to completion; ability to apply creative methods to solve installation problems with an attention to detail
  • Valid driver’s license required and must meet the College’s Fleet Safety Policy requirements
  • Proven ability to work independently and as a member of a team, exercise discretion, and work collaboratively as a member of a diverse community

The senior preparator reports to the manager of registration and collections and works closely with the director of operations. The senior preparator also works directly with museum curators, the manager of exhibitions and publications, registration staff, and other related staff on the installation, deinstallation, and travel of exhibits. The senior preparator works closely with the academic programs staff to provide access to the collection for the faculty and students and assists other museum colleagues on various projects as needed.


The work environment characteristics described herein are representative of those encountered while performing the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to perform the essential functions.

General open office and campus environment. Ability to climb ladders and scaffolding, ability to lift up to 75 lbs., and stand for long periods of time. Ability to use eyes and hands to examine and handle delicate objects. Work outside of normal business hours and more than 40 hours during periods of installation/deinstallation. Position involves sitting, although frequent movement is necessary. Computer usage involving repetitive hand/wrist motion is also necessary.

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