The Life of an Art Handler: Behind the Scenes

February 15, 2018

An art handler’s job is perhaps one of the most important – and challenging – in the industry. If you have ever walked the floors of a gallery, inspected sculptures at a museum, or examined paintings at an art exhibition, you have seen the work of an art handler.

To get a glimpse into what a day in the life of one of our art handlers looks like, you need to understand that there is no typical schedule. Today, our team might transport and install artwork in four different locations across the city, including galleries, museums, and collectors’ homes. Yesterday, our art handlers could have spent the entire day at one of UOVO’s facilities assisting a client inside their private storage unit.


The work’s unpredictable nature means art handlers must have a diverse skill set to address every need or circumstance that could arise. Each one of our art handlers brings a unique perspective to the team – with backgrounds including everything from gallery experience to carpentry – and they all use their wealth of knowledge at UOVO. The multidimensional nature of our art handling team allows us to offer a full suite of art services, from packing and shipping to the installation of monumental works.

While we value the knowledge and experience our art handlers already possess, we also implement ongoing training sessions. This builds unified strengths across our team and ensures they are drawing from the most up-to-date practices in the industry. This training can either be focused on a specific technique or situation, or a refresher on information and practices that may not be used as frequently. Training is especially important as we continue to integrate the latest technology into our services.

All of our art handlers are trained to work across sectors. This means that the transportation team responsible for driving our trucks also knows what materials to use to pack items, how to load the truck to prevent damage during transit, and how to install the artwork in any location. We find unified training and shared knowledge improves team morale and cohesion, ultimately benefiting the clients we serve. Our art handlers look forward to these training sessions because it supports their talents. Every thought and movement of an art handler is driven by a commitment to protect the artwork; they take this duty very seriously and use their training to stay abreast of best practices.

Training also supports problem-solving onsite. Every client is as diverse as the artwork in their possession, so our art handlers know how to work with pieces of every material, weight, size, and value – often handling artwork worth millions of dollars or items that have significant historical or cultural importance.

At UOVO, we operate with best-in-class service and the highest standards of professionalism, and nowhere is that more apparent than in our art handlers. Our art handlers are adept at thinking on their feet and communicating effectively. As the client-facing representatives of UOVO, the art handlers’ collaboration, trust, and professionalism inspire us all.


Image: UOVO installing at The Jewish Museum, New York. Left: Israel Dov Rosenbaum. Mizrah (1877). The Jewish Museum, New York, Gift of Helen W. Finkel in memory of Israel Dov Rosenbaum, Bessie Rosenbaum Finkel, and Sidney Finkel. Center: Kehinde Wiley. Alios Itzhak (The World Stage: Israel) (2011). The Jewish Museum, New York, Purchase: Gift of Lisa and Steven Tananbaum Family Foundation; Gift in honor of Joan Rosenbaum, Director of the Jewish Museum from 1981-2011, by the Contemporary Judaica, Fine Arts, Photography, and Traditional Judaica Acquisitions Committee Funds. © Kehinde Wiley. Right: Abraham Shulkin. Torah Ark from Adath Yeshurun Synagogue, Sioux City, Iowa, United States (1899). The Jewish Museum, New York, Gift of the Jewish Federation of Sioux City. Photograph: Kris Graves. 

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