Job Listing: Senior Preparator/Art Handler

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The Senior Preparator is responsible for protecting and preserving Colonial Williamsburg’s irreplaceable cultural assets by utilizing best museum practices in storage, packing, handling, and moving the Foundation’s collections. To accomplish this, the Senior Preparator works closely with the collections, conservation, and museums staff to organize and direct moves of collections within and outside the Foundation, receive and ship objects with contract art shipping companies and private and institutional lenders, inventory the collections, train staff on safe packing, handling and moving procedures, maintain vehicles used for art transport (“Collections vehicles”) and vehicle records, and communicate via report-writing and verbally as needed.



Movement of Collections

-Coordinates and leads teams of colleagues to plan, install and de-install collections objects into the Historic Area Buildings and in exhibits at the Museums.

-Directs and participates in moves of fragile and sometimes heavy furniture and other collections objects at all seasonal changes and preventive maintenance closings.

-Serves as lead courier to transport safely and responsibly collections within the Foundation and to and from lenders, dealers, and auction houses, occasionally requiring out-of-state travel.

-Packs collections for travel in Collections vehicles within and outside of the Foundation including soft-packing and crating.

-Designs and creates archival supports and containers appropriate for transport and storage of collections.

-Resolves complex packing and transportation arrangements as they arise for object moves using accepted museum practices.

-Develops safe object movement training program together with collections and conservation staff.  Conducts refresher training for staff as needed and regular training for new collections and conservation employees.


-Produces correspondence, reports, and records using Microsoft Word.

-Prepares reports using TMS (The Museum System), a collections management database, for collections moves and inventories.

Collections Management

-Inventories collections as assigned by Registrar.

-Documents collections movements as appropriate according to established museum record-keeping procedures.

Emergency/Disaster Recovery

-Participates in emergency preparation and disaster recovery activities.

-Manages the care of Collections vehicles including coordinating regular maintenance stocking them with specialized art handling equipment and supplies, outfitting them for transport of collections objects, and keeping detailed vehicle records.

Receiving Room/Storage Areas

-Maintains well-organized and clean receiving room and storage facilities.

-Ensures appropriate materials and tools for transporting collections objects are available and ready for use in the receiving room and maintain records of them.

-Inventories the receiving room tools and specialized art moving equipment and supplies annually.

-Works with contract art shipping companies and private and institutional lenders as necessary to ship and receive CWF collections and loans.


-Maintains open, two-way communication between the Collections department and other departments whose activities may impact the collections.

-Represents CWF with a high degree of professionalism and discretion when dealing with colleagues, lenders, donors, volunteers, etc.; maintains professional demeanor.

-Maintains and continually increases level of professional expertise through attendance at professional workshops and conferences and contact with others in the field.

-Follows established security and safety procedures.

-Performs other duties as required.



BA or BFA in related field and 2 years of collections experience in storage, packing and installation, and inventory, or high school diploma or G.E.D. with 7 years of practical training and experience; knowledge of best practices and professional standards for collections care, packing and handling; proficiency in the use of a computer, including basic word processing and collections management software; and the demonstrated art handling skills including good manual dexterity. Ability to use hand tools and power equipment necessary for collections handling preparation in a museum setting and the demonstrated interest in art and historic artifacts and sensitivity to the significance and special needs of museum collections.


Ability to communicate effectively and follow instructions orally and in writing and to work cooperatively and productively as a member of a team; demonstrated ability to work independently and problem-solve as needs arise; demonstrated patience and attention to detail; ability to make best use of time and limited resources, using facilities, materials, equipment, buildings and objects efficiently, effectively and with reasonable and appropriate care; knowledge of materials appropriate for use with Collections; and demonstrated ability to act as a mentor or leader.

Ability to work outdoors in varying weather conditions and come in daily contact with pollen, dust and mold, and to lift and carry 50 pounds, move collections up and down stairs, and perform duties while bending, stooping or kneeling, and be physically fit. Ability to perform various functions such as standing, walking, lifting, climbing ladders and scaffolding, seeing and working in varying light conditions and close quarters, and participate in strenuous activities. Availability to work some early mornings, late evenings, and travel as needed. Valid Commonwealth of Virginia driver’s license and an acceptable driving record as measured against Colonial Williamsburg’s criteria.

Preferred Qualifications:

BA or BFA degree in related field and knowledge of 18th- and early 19th-century fine art and decorative arts and American folk art. Skills in metalworking, woodworking, or other media and extensive experience using hoists, lifts and other material handling equipment. Collections management or museum registration experience. Familiarity with collections management database, TMS.


Salary commensurate with experience

Benefits Eligible

Fulltime; M-F, 8:30am-5:00pm

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