Apprentices left to right: Lillian Wimberly, Eduardo Camacho, Lance Bad Heart Bull, trainer/mentor Ernesto Ceja, Nya Abudu, Vanessa Garcia, Andrea Perez-Martinez, Alicia Teele, Annamarie Leon and trainer/mentor Jack Williams
The Broad’s New Diversity Apprenticeship Program Aims to Increase Diversity and Equity by Providing
Job Training Opportunities to People from Underrepresented Communities and Groups
Have you ever wondered how The Broad’s giant artworks, like Balloon Dog (2010) by Jeff Koons or Robert Therrien’s Under the Table (1994), were installed in the museum’s galleries? Or how multidimensional installations like Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Room—The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away (2013) or Ragnar Kjartansson’s poignant, nine-screen video installation, The Visitors (2012), were built inside the museum?
A team of art-service professionals called art handlers (or preparators) play the crucial role of installing artwork and objects like these, ensuring that they are properly installed to show the works in their best light, and are carefully taken down and packed away. Preparators are trained to safely handle and care for artifacts and works of art, how to pack and unpack different types of artworks and objects, how to move them, and – especially with multimedia works – how to help bring the artist’s vision to fruition for museum visitors. Without an art handling team, a museum would not have works of art on its walls, objects on display, and the work of artists like Yayoi Kusama would not be fully expressed.
In contemporary art, art handling can pose unique challenges. “Because of the endless varieties of materials and media that contemporary artists use, preparators must develop an impressive and increasingly flexible range of skillsets. You have everything from sculptures that weigh several tons like Thomas Houseago’s Giant Figure (Cyclops), to works using animatronic technology like Jordan Wolfson’s (Female figure), or vast assemblage works like Elliott Hundley’s the high house low! with thousands of push pins, a magnifying lens and so many other things hanging off of it, to traditional works like paintings and photographs,” said Joanne Heyler, founding director and chief curator at The Broad. “On many days at The Broad, it is rare that an art handler simply hangs artwork on a wall and calls it a day.”
While art handling for museums has become more complex and demanding over recent decades, its workforce has become less diverse. A recent nationwide survey of museums by the Mellon Foundation revealed that 85% of preparators identify as white and more than 75% identified as male. The demographic shift seen gradually emerging in other areas of museum work was not being seen in the field of art preparation.
The Broad has set out to change this through the Diversity Apprenticeship Program (DAP). “66% of our visitors identify as non-white, and we believe that to best serve our audience – and to make contemporary art accessible to the widest possible audience – our staff needs to reflect their diversity,” said Heyler. “We created the Diversity Apprenticeship Program so that we could provide opportunities for people to gain the training and experience they need to pursue rewarding careers in the art world, and to increase respect for the field of art handling as a profession.”
After The Broad piloted a 2016 apprenticeship program, and found that its participants received valuable training they otherwise would not have received, we realized we could do much more. We launched the DAP, a much wider and more ambitious initiative, aimed to build diversity and equity within museum staffs across the nation by creating a replicable model. The Broad’s idea for the program won a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services – one of only 11 National Leadership Grants for Museums awarded by the institute in 2017.
What is the Diversity Apprenticeship Program (DAP)?
The DAP provides individuals from groups that are traditionally underrepresented in museum staffs with a nine-month, full-time paid apprenticeship that trains them in art preparation and handling – equipping them with the skillsets, knowledge and confidence they need for successful art handling careers.
“In recruiting for this program, we reached out to those in communities of color, those in Native and Indigenous communities, women, immigrants, people who’ve been formerly incarcerated, those who identify as part of gender-alt communities, said George Luna-Peña, program manager of the DAP. “And we hope to achieve an equally diverse set of applicants in our second round of apprenticeships.”
Because no college degree is required to take part in the DAP, it is accessible to a wider range of people, providing new recruits or current entry-level staff a pathway toward higher paying, mid-level positions. The program is meant to show people from underrepresented backgrounds that a career in the arts is a very real possibility. It was that aspect that struck home with Nya Abudu, who is one of the first eight apprentices in the DAP.
“One reason it felt daunting for me to find a job in the art field is that I just haven't seen people that look like me working as art handlers,” Abudu said. “So this program definitely makes me excited about seeing more people like me in the field.”
“After all, if you're going to have art from different cultures, it makes sense for the staff to reflect the art that's in the museum,” she continued. “For me, it makes a lot of sense to see more a diverse group of people working in museums.”
How the Program Works
The first goal of the DAP is to train 16 apprentices in two groups over three years to gain valuable skillsets through hands-on learning – with the intent of creating a climate of equity and opportunity for the art handling field and to help professionalize the field.
To start, apprentices go through a month of training. They learn what a preparator does and how to do it. This includes how to handle, install, and pack artwork and artifacts. They then rotate to partner sites to do hands-on work – all while going on field trips to museums and other cultural destinations to further their learning. The first group of apprentices is currently putting their skills to work at several partner sites across the city; from small nonprofit galleries, to large museums and institutions, to private partners, to art shipping companies and fabrication facilities. The second group of eight apprentices will begin in spring 2019.
“I was catching up with my sister the other day and she asked me, ‘How's work?’” said Abudu. “I was like: ‘Great! I love it!’ My sister said, ‘That's the first time I've ever heard you say anything positive about your work.’
“I’ve always felt this was the job for me,” said Abudu.
The Broader Goal
The second goal of the DAP is to drive long-lasting, industry-wide change. To that end, The Broad is creating a toolkit that enables other organizations to replicate our model, and our success. This toolkit will contain a host of materials, from a learning curriculum and training materials, to best practices for equitable hiring and inclusive work environments, to performance metrics to measure success and a manual of best art handling practices.
And it’s that look to the future – that vision of sharing a message of equity at every level of the arts – that most appeals to another of the apprentices, Vanessa Garcia.
“The DAP means opening up doors for so many other people who will come after me, people who have been disempowered for far too long,” said Garcia. “It means giving a voice to people who haven’t been heard or represented. It means taking steps in the direction towards a healthier society. This is what keeps me going, and this is the reason why I’m here.”
“We are planning on opening the application process a little earlier than we did last time to make sure even more folks have the opportunity to learn about the DAP,” said Luna-Peña.”I’m actually anticipating a larger pool of applicants, and I'm hoping it’s just as diverse as the first group!”
Applications for the second group of apprentices will open in February 2019 on The Broad’s DAP page. We encourage individuals from all underrepresented communities or groups to apply, including women, African American, Latinx, Asian American, Native American, Pacific Islander, LGBTQIA+ and socioeconomically disadvantaged communities. You don’t need to have any college education or previous art handling experience!
If you have questions or need more information about the Diversity Apprenticeship Program, please contact George Luna-Peña, DAP Manager, at 213.232.6260 or email@example.com.
What does the DAP offer?
The DAP offers a nine-month, paid, full-time apprenticeship in preparation/art handling. We are especially interested in offering this opportunity to individuals from communities underrepresented on museum staffs who are interested in building careers in art and cultural institutions. Applications for Spring 2019 apprenticeships will open in February 2019.
The first month of the apprenticeship is a training period. During this time, you will learn a variety of skills, including how to pack, handle and install artwork and artifacts. You will also learn how to maintain galleries, assist preparators (art handlers) and collections managers, properly use tools and follow safety protocols. After this, you will rotate to at least three partner sites during the apprenticeship. During this time, we will provide personalized support as you continue to build skills in art handling. You will also benefit from working closely with experienced mentors/supervisors and program staff, all of whom are committed to supporting your growth and skill development.
Together, apprentices will go on field trips to museums and other cultural destinations. By the end of the nine months, you will be familiar with preparator and art handling practices. You will gain the skills and confidence needed for a career in this field. Throughout, apprentices will also provide feedback on their experience to help improve the program.
What is the application process?
To apply for the DAP, submit an application. The DAP application requires personal/contact information, 3references (a combination of professional and personal references preferred) and a 1–2 page written statement. The DAP application also includes an optional demographic survey (your chances of being selected will not be impacted if you choose not to fill out the optional survey).
Applications are then reviewed by program staff. Your application is scored on several factors, including: your potential for success as an apprentice, previous experience you may have highlighted in your application written statements and your understanding and commitment to the values of equity and diversity.
Interviews — If selected, applicants then move on to a phone interview with one program staff member. Those applicants who score well on phone interviews then move on to an in-person interview, which is conducted by a panel of program staff and partners. The interviews are additional opportunities for you to ask questions and get to know the program better, as well as for us to get to know you better.
Skills Tests — Applicants selected for in-person interviews will also be invited to take a basic math test online and in-person skills tests on the day of the interview.
Background Check — Selected candidates are required to pass a background check.
What does the DAP pay?
Pay for preparator apprentices is $16 an hour. You will also be eligible for medical, vision and dental benefits through The Broad during the duration of the apprenticeship, subject to eligibility requirements.
Who is eligible?
All applicants must be 18 and older to apply. All applicants must have work authorization in the form of a work permit, permanent residency or citizenship. Employment is contingent upon a satisfactory background and reference check.
What type of skills or experience should an apprentice have?
Some of the basic skills required to participate as an apprentice include:
Good hand-eye coordination, manual dexterity, and spatial reasoning
Self-motivated, reliable, and focused
Ability to follow instructions and plan ahead
Basic math skills
Work well with supervisors and coworkers
Ability to perform physical tasks, including bending, kneeling, pulling, pushing, walking, standing for long periods of time, and lifting 50 pounds
We do not require previous preparator or art handler experience. Instead, we encourage those with a wide variety of experiences to apply. For example, the following may translate well to the apprenticeship: food handling or preparation; landscaping or gardening; carpentry; cosmetology or hair styling; plumbing; welding; painting; factory experience; sewing; equipment technician; electrician; automotive/ mechanic; tattoo artist; theater stagehand experience; maintenance work; housekeeping; construction (to cover drywall, tiling, roofing, etc.); arts and crafts; jewelry making; auto body work; waiting tables. Other experiences may also translate. We encourage you to think broadly about the skills and capacities you bring as an applicant. Please include these in your application statement.
What are the commitments to participate in the DAP?
If selected for the DAP, participants must make a full-time commitment (40 hours per week) for the duration of the nine-month program. Preparator apprentices will typically work Monday through Friday during regular business hours. Hours may vary depending on assignment and partner site. All activities and assignments take place in the greater Los Angeles area.
You must follow all policies and procedures as established by The Broad and its partner institutions during the apprenticeship. You will be working with people of diverse backgrounds and experiences, and you are expected to be respectful to the entire community. You must participate in all program and assignment activities, including site-specific orientations, trainings, check-in meetings, conference opportunities, evaluation meetings and special events
If you have questions or need more information about the Diversity Apprenticeship Program, please contact George Luna-Peña, DAP Program Manager, at 213.232.6260 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Equal Opportunity Employer
The Broad is an equal opportunity employer and we aspire to reflect the diversity of Los Angeles in both our staff and visitors. We will consider all qualified applicants for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability status, protected veteran status or any other characteristic protected by law.
The Broad believes that by actively building a workforce of the brightest people from the widest possible range of backgrounds, we can innovate, inspire and engage with the widest possible audience.
The Broad is committed to building and maintaining a diverse staff and inclusive workplace. We encourage women, immigrants, people of color, Indigenous and Native peoples, returning citizens or those formerly incarcerated and LGBTQIA+ applicants to apply.
The DAP brings together a wide variety of partners, including nonprofit, commercial and government entities, with the goal of serving as a model for other public-private partnerships. Partners include:
This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
What is the program?
The Diversity Apprenticeship Program (DAP) is a new initiative by The Broad. It is made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). IMLS is a federal agency which provides library grants, museum grants, policy development and research.
The DAP provides full-time, paid apprenticeships in preparation/art handling. The program strives for equity within museum staff demographics. It addresses mid-level museum jobs and provides opportunities to apprentices from groups that are underrepresented on museum staffs.
What is a preparator/art handler?
A preparator or an art handler is someone who works directly with art or artifacts in museums, galleries and art shipping companies. Usually, they pack and unpack art, install and de-install exhibitions, and move art around museum and storage spaces. Their duties and skills are wide-ranging.
What are the program’s goals?
The DAP has two main goals. First, to train 16 apprentices in two groups. Apprentices will gain valuable skill-sets through hands-on learning. They will put their skills to work at several partner sites. Apprentices will give feedback to shape and improve the program.
Our second goal is to drive long-lasting, industry-wide change. We will create a toolbox to replicate our model at other organizations. The toolbox will contain: a learning curriculum, training materials, best practices for equitable hiring and inclusive work environments, performance metrics to measure success, and a manual of best art handling practices.
What makes this program unique?
There are notable programs addressing museum staff inequities. Yet, many limit these opportunities to students or recent high school/college graduates. Many of these programs also focus on academic, curator or entry-level opportunities.
Because a college degree is not required to take part in the DAP, it is accessible to a wider variety of people. The DAP provides new recruits or current entry-level staff a pathway toward higher paying, mid-level positions. The program brings together nonprofit, commercial and governmental partners. Our partnership will serve as a model for other public-private partnerships.
Who else is participating?
Our partners include: Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, Artex Fine Art Services (a commercial art handling company), Autry Museum of the American West, Building Bridges Art Exchange (a nonprofit gallery), California African American Museum, Cinnabar (a commercial fabrication company), Craft & Folk Art Museum, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Department of Cultural Affairs (City of Los Angeles), Museum of Latin American Art, USC Fisher Museum of Art, and the Vincent Price Art Museum.
Why is the program focusing on preparators and art handlers?
The 2015 Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Art Museum Staff Demographic Survey highlighted a lack of diversity in many museum professions. For example, about 85% of preparators/art handlers are white. And over 75% of preparators/art handlers are male.
We realize the quickest way to effect change is to focus on these jobs, which do not need a college degree. At the same time, we know long-lasting change can only happen intentionally. An apprenticeship program like the DAP can serve as a model for other organizations to intentionally include those from systemically marginalized groups.
How does the program work?
The DAP is a nine-month, full-time, paid opportunity. To start, apprentices go through a month of training. They will learn what a preparator does and how to do it. This includes how to handle, install, and pack artwork and artifacts. They will then rotate to partner sites to do hands-on work. Apprentices will also go on field trips to museums and other cultural destinations.
By the end of the nine months, apprentices will be familiar with best preparator and art handling practices. They will gain the skills and confidence needed for careers in this field. Apprentices will also provide feedback on their experience, to help improve the program.
What can I do with preparator or art handling experience?
You can do a lot with preparator or art handling experience! Organizations of all types and sizes hire preparators: small community galleries, non-profit art spaces, large art and cultural institutions, private art handling companies, and art fairs to name a few. Preparator/art handling jobs can also lead toward higher-paid opportunities as head preparators, collections managers and other leadership roles.
Who can apply?
If you enjoy working with your hands, being around art, and are interested in using tools, building, and installing, this apprenticeship is for you. Art handling is a physical job. You must be able to lift 60 pounds, be comfortable working at heights over eight feet, and work on your feet for extended periods of time.
We will recruit applicants from the staff at our museum, our partner museums, and communities around Los Angeles.
You do not need to have any college education or previous art handling experience. We encourage applicants from communities or groups systemically marginalized to apply. This includes African American, Latinx, Asian American, Native American and Pacific Islander, LGBTQIA+, socioeconomically disadvantaged communities and women.
When will the application process open? How does the application process work?
You will be able to apply starting March 1, 2018. The first eight apprentices start work in June of 2018. Applications for the second group of eight apprentices will be due in early-to-mid 2019. Work for this group would begin in mid-2019.
Applicants will submit written materials. They will take part in interviews. They will also take skills tests designed to show skills related to doing the job of a preparator. The program requires work authorization in the form of a work permit, permanent residency or citizenship.
How much does the apprenticeship pay?
The DAP pays $16 per hour plus benefits.