FAQs

What is the program?

RE-TOOL 21: Art Preparation Skill Development Program is a new initiative by the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. It is made possible through the generous funding of the Joyce Foundation. The program strives to increase all demographic diversity in museum and art career staff. RE-TOOL 21 provides part-time, paid training in preparation/art handling.

What is an art preparator/art handler?

Art-service professionals, called art handlers or preparators, provide the important groundwork for the safe and secure installation, de-installation, packaging, and storing of art pieces, objects, and artifacts. Art preparator duties and skills are wide-ranging, usually finding employment in museums, galleries, and art shipping companies.

What are the program's goals?

RE-TOOL 21 has three main goals. 1) To contribute to the racial, economic, and cultural diversity of arts and cultural workers. 2) Provide training for individuals that will allow them to acquire the basic knowledge and skills required to apply for a job in art preparation. 3) Provide a network of ongoing mentorship and support to graduating RE-TOOL 21 cohort participants to ensure a successful transition into the arts and cultural sector.

What makes this program unique?

RE-TOOL 21’s model reflects similar notable programs such as the Diversity Apprenticeship Program at The Broad (Los Angeles). Unique to both programs, which explicitly seek to address museum staff inequities, is that the opportunity is being offered both to non-degree holding and emerging professionals 18 years and older. 

RE-TOOL 21 also employs a unique cohort model to ensure participants not only learn from lead faculty and guest facilitators, but also develop an internal network of support and camaraderie with fellow program members. The program also brings together higher education, nonprofit, and commercial partnerships.

Who can apply?

Applicants do not need to have any specific level of education or previous art handling experience, however applicants with basic familiarity with hand tools will be strongly considered. Art handling is a physical job. Participants should be able to lift 50 pounds and be comfortable working at heights and on their feet for extended periods of time.

RE-TOOL 21 encourages individuals from historically under-funded communities to apply, including women, immigrants, people of color, Indigenous and Native peoples, formerly incarcerated and LGBTQIA individuals. Applicants must reside in the City of Chicago.

How does the program work?

RE-TOOL 21 is a fifteen-session, part-time, paid opportunity. Participants begin with a one-day orientation (Friday), followed by seven two-day weekend intensives that meet Saturdays and Sundays from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. for a total of 90 hours of direct training. Prior to each weekend intensive, participants are asked to complete one to three hours online preparation for the session. Activities include readings, videos, and active engagement in facilitated discussions. In-person training sessions include a combination of lecture-style learning, hands-on training, and site visits, including an introduction to the field of art preparation, introduction to basic hand tools, field trips and site visits to museums, galleries, and art service companies, and professional development support.  

At the end of the fifteen-session program, participants will complete a practicum experience. Site placement will include a selection of partner sites or participants will be invited to facilitate a partnership with a site of their selection. By the end of the program, participants will be familiar with best practices in art preparation and handling. They will gain the skills and confidence needed to pursue employment in this field.

Participants will also be asked to provide feedback on their experience and engage in evaluation activities designed to improve the program. Surveys, group reflection circles, and self-assessments are integral and required components of the program.

How much does RE-TOOL 21 pay?

RE-TOOL 21 pays a $1,500 program stipend. The stipend will be dispersed in three payments. The first installment of $500 will be paid following orientation and the first weekend intensive. The second $500 will be paid upon conclusion of the final weekend intensive. The final $500 will be paid following practicum placement within six months of the final weekend intensive. Stipend reductions will be accrued if participants are tardy or miss more than the allotted number of days.

How do I get more information?

Please contact RE-TOOL 21 Program Coordinator, Ife Williams at 708.680.6238 or saic-sscl@saic.edu. For a copy of the RE-TOOL 21 FAQs, please click here. To download the RE-TOOL 21 application questions, please click here.