September 24, 2020
Press play for behind-the-scenes moments with SMoCA’s art handlers.

pre·par·a·tor  n. One who prepares exhibitions for display, as in a museum; art handler.

So, here’s the story behind Art Handler Appreciation Day. We, at SMoCA, firmly believe that art handlers are integral to what we do as a museum. As an institution, we simply could not exist without them. We also call them preparators or preps. They not only pack, handle, and install art, but they prepare the gallery spaces by patching, painting, building walls, installing vinyl, and maintaining the gallery spaces to make sure they are in tip top shape. They take whatever request might be thrown at them, no matter how crazy it may be, and make it work.

They are the unsung heroes of the artworld. They work behind the scenes like ninjas and make things happen while the public is not looking. Since they are often under recognized, we decided it was time there was a day dedicated to celebrate them and all their hard work. So, we will be celebrating them every year on September 24, and we invite you to join us. 

Our Exhibitions Manager, Laura Spalding Best, leads our team of preparators here at SMoCA and designs the outstanding exhibitions that we have here. This is what she has to say about Art Handler Appreciation Day and what it is to be an art handler:

The 5th(!) Annual Art Handlers Triathlon would have been held at SMoCA this week. Since we can’t come together to compete for the Golden Level Trophy right now, we thought of another way to bring the behind-the-scenes workers of the art world into the spotlight. Today, September 24, is Art Handler Appreciation Day! With museums and galleries closed or on hiatus, a lot of preparators, art handlers, and art technicians are out of work, and the work they do is amazing. Art handlers carry a variety of skill sets to pack, crate, transport, condition, install, and care for fine art objects. Logistical problem solving, knowledge of art and art history, familiarity with a variety of hardware and tools, keen spatial reasoning, operation of heavy machinery, attention to detail, long hours, and diplomacy are just a few job requirements. It’s an often under appreciated field and its workers have earned this special day. ❤️

Laura Spalding Best
Exhibitions Manager

We also recognize that his has been an especially difficult time for art handlers, so please consider donating to relief funds that help support art handlers here. Let’s show art handlers some love!