The Incredibles

Clockwise from upper left: Bill Koberg preparing to de-install Bala, November 2011; Alec MacKaye and Shelly Wischhusen roll up a painting off the stretcher; preparators' tools; a gallery closed for installation; Bill and Alec installing Leo Villareal's light work, Scramble, March 2012. Photos: Sarah Osborne Bender

The single most important part of a museum that’s probably unknown to visitors is the art preparator (or handler). And art preparators are museum superheroes. Without them, permanent collections would hang in the same place year after year, loan exhibitions would lean propped on the floor, and storage areas would be jungles of spiderwebs and unseen art. We know our preparators are awesome, but in the month of May, Bill Koberg, Shelly Wischhusen, and Alec MacKaye (with the help of three contract preparators: Tom Bunnell, Tad Thomas, and Marley Dawson) have performed feats of inhuman ability. Are they cyborgs, programed to install and de-install round the clock and right on the nose? Check out some of the statistics:

De-installed works in Snapshot: 295

Room-sized, site-specific works de-installed: 3

Room-sized, site-specific works installed: 1

Extralarge paintings moved in and out of storage: 3

Works installed in two exhibitions, opening concurrently: 181

Permanent collection items installed or moved: 98

All in all, nearly 600 works have come in, gone out, gone up, and come down in the last month in our small museum. Bill, Shelly, Alec, take a bow (and a vacation).