Reports to: Head Preparator and Exhibition Designer
Department: Curatorial
Position Type: Full-time, hourly, non-exempt
Salary Range: DOE
Benefits: Eligible

Summary of Position

The Preparator is a member of the curatorial department and will provide critical support for preparations for exhibition installations and registration tasks, including exhibition planning and preparation, exhibition and gallery maintenance, workshop and storage maintenance, and daily office tasks. Collaborates with and works to support the museum’s Head Preparator and Exhibition Designer, Associate Director of Curatorial and Head Registrar, and Collections Manager. Assists curators, works with contract art handlers, and interfaces with various departments within the museum to achieve department and institutional goals.

The qualified candidate must possess a strong commitment to quality control, innovation, teamwork and a willingness to support the museum as an investment in the institution’s future plans and goals. Attention to detail but able to see the larger picture, a positive and proactive mindset, and well-developed organizational and people skills are essential for this position. The Preparator reports to the Head Preparator and Exhibition Designer.


    • Upholds a gallery maintenance schedule for daily and weekly cleaning of the galleries, including sweeping and mopping floors, cleaning art casework, art, and art display surfaces, touching up paint on walls as needed, replacing labels as needed, and maintaining gallery lighting. Trains other staff to assist with cleaning and assures quality control.
    • Upholds an outdoor sculpture maintenance schedule, including sculpture cleaning as directed by the Head Registrar.
    • Works with the Head Preparator in all aspects of exhibition installation and de-installation, including but not limited to gallery preparation, construction, painting, installing, mounting, rigging, and securing artwork, lighting, A/V, and managing the contract staff as needed.
    • Assists the Head Preparator as needed with budgeting, product research, mount design, installation planning, and maintaining exhibition files.
    • Designs basic graphic layout for exhibition texts in Illustrator.
    • Works with the Head Preparator to develop and enact A/V solutions for all exhibitions, including A/V maintenance for the duration of the exhibitions.
    • Designs and constructs exhibition furniture, mounts, and crates according to museum standards.
    • Maintains an inventory of exhibition furniture and AV components, and finds creative solutions to their storage and organization.
    • Assists in the maintenance of workshop and installation tools and inventory; abides by and keeps woodshop in accordance with OSHA standards; and assists with the organization and cleanliness of the woodshop.
    • Mats and frames artwork as directed by the Head Registrar.
    • Maintains an inventory of all frames, glass, and framing supplies.
    • Supports the Head Registrar and Collections Manager with collection inventories, Collection Committee meetings, and other collections related tasks.
    • Schedules, observes, and processes invoices from photographers for object photography and exhibition photography.
    • Downloads climate data from data loggers; creates and archives charts and graphs of climate data.
    • Transports, packs, and crates art according to museum standards, including art deliveries and pickups, and releasing and receiving artwork.
    • Assists with museum’s reporting for major grants as needed.

Preferred Qualifications

  • Knowledge of museum standards for packing, crating, handling, and installing artworks in all mediums, and a knowledge of archival materials.
  • Proficient knowledge of museum best practices
  • Experience with graphic design software.
  • Basic competency with Office Suite, Google SketchUp, Adobe Illustrator, and a demonstrated ability to learn collections management software, TMS (The Museum System).
  • Experience working in construction, in a workshop or fabrication shop.


  • Two years museum preparator or similar experience
  • Possession of a valid WA state driver’s license
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills
  • Skill in handling multiple demands, shifting priorities, and rapid change
  • Skill in working as part of a team, collaborating with colleagues, and assisting visiting professionals
  • Desire to learn and grow professional skill set
  • Ability to stand, stoop, bend, kneel, and squat for extended periods of time
  • Ability to work at elevated heights on ladders, scaffolding, and lifts
  • Ability to physically move and hold large and/or very heavy objects with great care
  • Skill with power and hand tools, and equipment used in moving and rigging heavy objects

Travel, Working Conditions, Physical Requirements and Environment include:

    • Able to sit at a workstation and/or a computer screen for long periods.
    • Needs to have the ability to stand, stoop or walk for long periods of time.
    • Frequently reaches with hands and arms and uses hands and fingers to handle objects and operate tools, machinery, computers, and/or controls.
    • Able to lift objects (up to 75 pounds) and perform other similar actions during the course of the workday.
    • Continuously exchanges information through listening and talking with staff, volunteers and individuals in the community.
    • Occasionally work outside, potentially subject to adverse weather conditions.
    • Local travel, approximate 10% of work hours.

To Apply

  • Please email a completed  job application, cover letter and resume to: Please send cover letter and resume as a single attachment.
  • Include “Preparator: First Name Last Name” in subject line.
  • No phone inquiries, please.

Tacoma Art Museum is an Equal Opportunity Employer

Tacoma Art Museum strongly encourages applicants from members of groups underrepresented in careers related to museums and the visual arts.

About Tacoma Art Museum

Tacoma Art Museum is a public-spirited institution with nationally recognized exhibitions and innovative educational programs. Named by  USA Today  as one of the “Top 10 Great Places to See Art in Smaller Cities,” the museum has developed a reputation for presenting art in a thought-provoking yet accessible manner with a strong commitment to Northwest art through its acquisition and exhibition programs. Founded in 1935, the museum has strong roots in the community and anchors Tacoma’s lively downtown university and museum district.

Completed in November 2014, an additional $15.5-million building project has added approximately 16,000 square feet, and houses the Haub Family Collection of Western American Art. This collection establishes TAM as the only major museum of Western American art of this caliber in the Northwest. It also enables the museum to fully explore the art history of the West while integrating its Western and Northwest collections.

Another significant gift announced on January 14, 2016 is the gift of the  Rebecca and Jack Benaroya Collection. The Benaroyas carefully assembled over their 70 years of marriage a collection that  includes Northwestern and international studio art glass along with important paintings and sculptures by renowned regional artists. The gift, announced on Mrs. Benaroya’s 93rd  birthday, includes a contribution for the construction of a new 7,390 square-foot gallery addition in which to present the collection.  The new wing has been designed by award-winning architect Tom Kundig of Seattle-based Olson Kundig and opened in January 2019.

It’s an exciting time to be a part of the Tacoma Art Museum family!

About Tacoma

Located in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, Tacoma is known as the City of Destiny, a city that has always marched to the beat of its own drum. Close enough to Seattle to take advantage of everything a major metropolis offers, Tacoma is its own distinctly unique and actively engaged community with a clear love of the arts.

Diverse individuals and families continue to invest in Tacoma for its charming historic neighborhoods, schools, parks, waterfront, and amenities. You’ll find the beaches and forests of Puget Sound ideal to bike, run, hike, and paddle – including the nearby Mount Rainier. In addition to sports, theater and other cultural offerings, Tacoma is home to a growing restaurant and pub scene that’s made national press. The thriving Tacoma Museum District lines the downtown core and showcases some of the nation’s best collections. Tacoma is a great place to call home.