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Movers and Shakers

Mild-mannered museum geeks or ass-kicking art roadies?

Neal Benezra, Director
(1 of 6)

Rose Candelaria, Senior Registrar
(2 of 6)

Brandon Larson
(3 of 6)

Michelle Barger, Deputy Head of Conservation
(4 of 6)

Scott Atthowe, Art-Moving Specialist
(5 of 6)

Jill Sterrett, Head of Collections and Conservation
(6 of 6)

1. Neal Benezra, Director
USUAL JOB: Running the museum, reaching out to donors and collectors, curating the occasional exhibition (including the new Mark di Suvero show at Crissy Field).
DURING THE MOVE: More of the same, while making sure that the museum hits its new $610 million fundraising target (it’s already at 89 percent of its old target, with three years left). Sound exhausting? ”In order to take a breather,” he jokes, ”you have to be able to breathe.”

2. Rose Candelaria, Senior Registrar
USUAL JOB: Keeping track of everything: art, security, insurance. ”We could be at SFO receiving a shipment from Paris in the morning and back in the galleries supervising an installation in the afternoon.”
DURING THE MOVE: Coordinating how long it takes to pack various items and move the art from point A to point B. ”We truck by size and fragility and value. We have a value cap that we can’t exceed—that could mean just one piece in the truck.”

3. Brandon Larson, Installation Manager
USUAL JOB: Overseeing handling and construction of anything needed for exhibitions, from wooden crates to entire galleries.
DURING THE MOVE: Packing up everything in the museum and its offsite storage areas while preparing for multiple collaborative shows over the next three and a half years. ”What’s left now is the stuff that was too tricky to move before. We have some very fragile and funky objects.”

4. Michelle Barger, Deputy Head Of Conservation
USUAL JOB: Caring for the museum’s collection of objects, everything from traditional bronzes and stone pieces to site-specific contemporary works.
DURING THE MOVE: Making it up as she goes. "Objects need to be packed, and someone has to figure it all out. How do you move a piece you’re not even supposed to touch? Luckily, a lot of the artists are still alive, so we can consult with them.” 

5. Scott Atthowe, Art-Moving Specialist
USUAL JOB: Shipping art around the Bay Area and the world. His Oakland-based company is staffed by artists, ”so we’re very different from any old movers.” DURING THE MOVE: Hoping for the best, anticipating the worst. ”Sometimes you have everything planned out, then they tear up the street. Or maybe we have a piece that won’t fit into an entry, so we have to take apart the building and crane it in.” 

6. Jill Sterrett, Head of Collections and Conservation
USUAL JOB: Everything to do with protecting and preserving the artworks.
DURING THE MOVE: Ditto, plus overseeing an expanded facility outside the city where everything is being stored. ”To consolidate our collection from four locations to one is very exciting. It gives new possibilities for scholarship because you can study items together so easily. I foresee all kinds of discoveries.”

Read more about making the new MOMA:
Introduction: Deconstructing MOMA
Phase One: Packing Up
Phase One: By the Numbers
Phase One: Movers and Shakers
Phase One: Hard Cases
Phase Two: The Road Show
Phase Two: Can I Play With Your Pollock?
Phase Two: Meanwhile, Back At The Fischer Collection
Phase Three: The Reboot
Phase Three: There Goes The Neighborhood


Originally published in the June 2013 issue of San Francisco

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