What is a Museum Preparator? Find out First - Hand from our Very Own Paul Tracy!

Jingle bells tingling, shop lights twinkling, children behaving; the holidays are fast approaching! When I think about Christmas I think of Santa and his elves; busy, busy, busy. Being a museum preparator is very similar to being an elf, elves create Christmas magic and preparators create museum magic.

The current exhibition in the Chandler Gallery is a perfect example of the magical similarities. Curator, Stanton Thomas (a jolly old soul is he), chose prints from the museum’s permanent collection depicting food for the gallery’s holiday installation, (visions of sugarplums floating in his head.) Choosing 17 prints from the museum’s over 5,000 works on paper was no small task, but with the help of Associate Registrar Marilyn Masler and her vast knowledge of the collection and cataloguing skills, the exhibition came together. Many of the prints chosen had never been exhibited; at this point Stanton’s vision was merely a pile of paper stacked on the table in print storage.

[caption id="attachment_3122" align="aligncenter" width="228" caption="Luigi Rist, American, 1888 -1959, Corsage, 1944, Wood block, 70/100, Brooks Memorial Art Gallery Purchase, from the American Color Print Society 47.710"][/caption]

As our fearless curator returned to his office to begin writing the text and labels that would give relevance to a group of very diverse artists and their work, the preparators began the preparations (hence the job title “preparator”) for making his vision a reality. There was much measuring, counting, ordering, cutting, mounting, cleaning, framing and more measuring to be done. In no more than the blink of an eye the preparators had transformed the pile of paper into beautifully framed works of art! It was truly an example of museum magic in action!

A few days later the prints were installed and the text and labels were hung with care, and just in time for the Holidays we had a Feast for the Eyes!

Posted by Andria Lisle at 12:11 PM
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