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Meet the Staff

The Department of Collections Management's art handling and packing team
September 15, 2022

Art handlers Barry Austin, Joe Blaser, Tony Cisneros, Jason Willis, and Andrew Robison deinstall Untitled (1961) by Richard Stankiewicz, which is traveling to the Jewish Museum as a loan this fall. Due to the sculpture’s weight, it must be rigged and placed onto a pallet to be safely moved and staged in storage.

When walking through the galleries or strolling the grounds, have you ever wondered who installs the awe-inspiring artwork? Working almost exclusively behind the scenes, art handlers are responsible for physically overseeing all art movement and gallery installations at the museum. The six art handlers on this team have 87 years of collective experience working directly with our encyclopedic collection. Every day, they put their extensive knowledge of tools, equipment, hardware, installation techniques, and handling skills to use to ensure the collection is safe and accessible to the public while on view. When not installing in the galleries, they can be found bringing artwork to the photo studio to be digitized for inclusion in Collection Online, to the conservation labs for treatment, to the study rooms for curatorial and collection research, and more.

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Left to right: Chris Elveru, packing specialist; Tony Cisneros, art handler and team coordinator; Joe Blaser (front), senior art handler; Arthur Beukemann, art handler; Barry Austin, art handler and installation specialist; and Jason Willis, art handler.
Left to right: Chris Elveru, packing specialist; Tony Cisneros, art handler and team coordinator; Joe Blaser (front), senior art handler; Arthur Beukemann, art handler; Barry Austin, art handler and installation specialist; and Jason Willis, art handler. Not featured is Andrew Robison, art handler

In addition to featuring artwork in its galleries, the CMA lends objects to institutions all over the world for exhibitions. We are fortunate to have in-house packing specialist Chris Elveru, who is well versed in the most current packing methods and materials required to safely ship artwork. Whether for three miles down the road by truck or 3,000 miles by air, each piece is assessed for custom packing. Thankfully, the museum industry has moved away from packing peanuts and straw for cushioning. We now utilize archival, shock-absorbent materials that reduce possible damage caused by vibration and off-gassing from unstable packing materials.

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(Left) Chris Elveru works with Tony Cisneros to unpack Georgia O’Keeffe’s It Was Yellow and Pink II (1959), which had recently returned from loan. Chris custom built the crate and all interior packing to ensure this painting traveled safely to three European venues and back. To fill the empty space in the gallery, Barry Austin, Andrew Robison, and Joe Blaser install John Chamberlain’s Untitled (c. 1958–59) on a pedestal. Multiple hands and eyes ensure the artwork is stabilized while it is secured to its mount.