Chief Preparator

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Published 22 days ago

Location: San Francisco, CA

Type: Full Time Min. Experience: Manager/Supervisor

JOB TITLE: Chief Preparator 

DEPARTMENT: Program & Public 

REPORTS TO:  Director of Public Life

STATUS: Exempt 

CLASSIFICATION: Full Time (37.5 hours per week) 

SCHEDULE: Mon-Fri, some evenings, weekends, & events 

Direct Reports: (1) Senior Preparator - Fabrication and Production, (2) Senior Preparator - Generalist (PT), (3)  On-Call Preparator Team (as needed for various projects)



Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA) is San Francisco’s center for art and progress. Opened to the public in 1993, YBCA was founded as the cultural anchor of San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Gardens neighborhood. Our work spans the realms of contemporary art, performance, film, civic engagement, and public life. By centering artists as essential to social and cultural movement, YBCA is reimagining the role an arts institution can play in the community it serves. Our mission is to generate culture that moves people.

Mission: We generate culture that moves people.

Vision: A community that thrives on inspiration.

The successful candidate will embody our organization’s core values:

  • Abundance: We operate from a place of strength, with a spirit of empathy and generosity. 
  • Authentic Collaboration: We are engaged and interconnected.
  • Personal Agency: We are empowered and accountable.
  • Boldness: We create with courage and purpose. 



The Chief Preparator supports in the planning and executing of YBCA’s organizational strategic priorities.

Their focus is on designing and planning the execution of public-facing installations, experiences and exhibitions, including working with artists to realize commissioned or newly-fabricated works of art in a variety of mediums. 

The Chief Preparator is a highly collaborative role, working with other members of the Program and Public team, team members across the entire organization, as well as outside artists and curators. The Chief Preparator also serves as a manager and mentor to the preparatory staff, training and delegating tasks with the same spirit of collaboration. 



  • Leads the preparation, execution and de-installation of art projects, exhibitions, neighborhood commissions, public squares and prototypes.
  • Work with production staff to shape and implement multidisciplinary projects to assure the best results for artistic and curatorial vision.
  • Works closely with the supervisor to develop and maintain project-specific budgets. 
  • Project manages indoor and outdoor artistic initiatives, including but not limited to Public Square programs, SF Urban Film Fest Residency, artist commissions, and gallery presentations. 
  • Serves as primary liaison between Program and Public and Operations Pods.
  • Recruits, trains, manages and schedules a diverse staff of part-time and on-call preparators as well as contracted vendors to meet the needs of developing, installing, maintaining and de-installing of installations. 
  • Develops and maintains relationships with vendors and contractors such as painters, glazers, structural engineers, architects, drywallers, fabricators, and other specialists as needed to realize installations. 
  • Generates measured construction drawings and documents for contractors and engineers and oversees all permitting processes with the Department of Building Inspection and the Fire Marshall. 
  • Supports other YBCA Pods by coordinating, designing and staffing with Program and Public Pods resources as available to support the needs.
  • Undertakes registrar work in collaboration with Curatorial Project Manager,  including artist contracts, loan forms, and artwork shipping.
  • Other projects as assigned.


  • Bachelor’s degree in Visual Arts, Studio Arts, Design or similar field of study or commensurate work experience 
  • Minimum 3 years’ experience as preparator or in a similar position in a museum, gallery or arts organization, supervising visual art work crews. 
  • Demonstrated knowledge of museum installation techniques. 
  • Thorough knowledge of building, ADA and fire codes, construction techniques, materials and tools. 
  • Ability to read and generate building plans, specifications and diagrams. 
  • Proven organizational skills, detail-oriented, and capacity to effectively manage multiple tasks and deadlines.
  • Ability to identify problems and resolve them with tact
  • Ability to work variable schedules, including extended hours, days, evenings and weekends. 
  • Thrives in a fast-paced, highly collaborative environment that values diversity, equity, inclusion, and access, and works effectively with people of varied backgrounds, experiences, points of view, and aspirations
  • Familiarity with PC and Mac computer systems and software; Vectorworks, Sketch Up, or other drafting software; The Museum System (TMS) knowledge preferred. 
  • Ability to frequently lift and move objects up to 25 pounds and at heights up to 6 feet; physically handle delicate and valuable works of art with extreme care; work regularly in environments with exposure to noise and dust; ability to work on your feet for the majority of the day.

Note: Interested applicants who may not have formal training in some of the job requirements but have related experience are still highly encouraged to apply. 



At YBCA, we continue to prioritize the health and wellbeing of our employees and candidates. All interviews will be conducted remotely via phone or video conference while YBCA complies with local and state health ordinances. Please note that this position may perform some work remotely and on site responsibilities. 


PTO, Holiday Pay, Medical, Dental, Vision, Flexible Spending Accounts, Group Life and AD&D Insurance, Long Term Disability Insurance, Voluntary Life and AD&D, Employee Assistance Program, Travel Assistance, paid time off to volunteer, and ability to participate in the 403(b) Retirement Plan with match.


Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA) is committed to diversity in its programming and in creating a work culture and environment that is reflective of San Francisco Bay Area demography. The Center encourages and actively recruits applicants representing dimensions of difference that include — but are not limited to — age, national origin, ethnicity, race, religion, ability, sexual orientation, gender or political affiliation.

YBCA will consider for employment all qualified applicants with criminal histories in a manner consistent with the requirements of the San Francisco Fair Chance Ordinance (SF Police Code, Article 49).


Hello and thank you for taking the time to apply and let us know that you are interested in joining our team at YBCA. After you apply, you will receive a confirmation email to let you know that your resume has been received. Rest assured, a member of our recruiting team will personally review your application. If you are a potential match for one of our open positions, we will be in touch. If there is not a match right now, we will keep your resume on file for future opportunities. In the meantime, please connect with us on social media @YBCA to learn more about us. Thank you for your time and we wish you the best on your job search. 

Agencies and Recruiting Firms: Please note that we will only review applications submitted directly by candidates and do not accept resumes or pay fees to third parties. Any unsolicited resumes received will be considered the property of YBCA.

Location: San Francisco, CA

Type: Full Time Min. Experience: Manager/Supervisor

JOB TITLE: Chief Preparator 

DEPARTMENT: Program & Public 

REPORTS TO:  Director of Public Life

STATUS: Exempt 

CLASSIFICATION: Full Time (37.5 hours per week…

Details at a Glance

  • Time Commitment
    Full Time Schedule
  • Start Date
    September 20, 2021
  • Application Deadline
    September 20, 2021
  • Education
    4-Year Degree Required
  • Professional Level


701 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94103, USA

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