What Does an Art Handler Do?

Fine art handler helping to oversee installation of a fine art pieceYou may think that hiring any moving or storage company will work for getting artwork from Point A to Point B. Or, maybe you decide to try your hand at installing some art in your home, office, or workplace yourself. This is a bit like visiting WebMD versus going to an actual doctor. You may get a quick result, but it’s not likely to be the exceptional long-lasting result you were initially looking for. To take the guesswork out of artwork relocation, enlist the help of an art handler. After all, their whole day is filled with the planning, care, and all things art. 

An art handler plays a key role in the life of a work of art. They oversee a piece of art or collection’s storage, transportation, and installation – among many other things. While many of the technical aspects of being an art handler are learned on the job, intuitive artistic knowledge isn’t something everyone innately embodies, and it’s an essential trait each art handler must have to do their job well.  

Art handlers have a unique perspective while working with each piece since they care for and handle each work in a different way. The intimacy an art handler has with every piece is special and allows them to care for each piece as if it were their own, whether it’s an O’Keeffe or a 100 year old sculpture. 

Day to Day 

The day of an art handler will vary depending on the assignment. It may begin with building a handcrafted crate designed for an individual piece. From there, an art handler may expect countless hours of planning, installing, and deinstalling works for public displays of art or private collections. 

With works in various mediums being placed in different locations, teams must coordinate, schedule, and execute installs that are specific to each project, starting with shipping and transportation. Location, hardware, and many other factors are planned in advance in order to perform seamless installs and deinstalls. 

Skills and Knowledge Need for an Art Handler 

Art handlers are typically artists themselves or have degrees in the arts. Those with first-hand knowledge of artwork have an advantage that allows them to care for and handle a masterpiece, like a Degas, in the specific way it needs to be treated. The nature of the job also includes grasping a variety of tasks, so it’s important that each handler is an expert in every aspect of handling art. 

Furthermore, the ability to properly plan and anticipate any specific need are huge aspects of what make each project run smoothly. Being prepared for unexpected circumstances is an important part of every project, and staff are ready to problem solve on the spot. We’re armed with the additional hardware, tools, and equipment for almost any hiccup, and we know how to keep our cool when plans shift last-minute.

Last but not least, having trained artists with an eye for aesthetics is something we take pride in, and we are happy to advise you on your project.


For nearly 30 years, Art Work Fine Art Services has served as the trusted logistics partner to some of America’s most highly-regarded museums, galleries, collectors, and artists. We specialize in expert and custom solutions for domestic and international shipping, warehousing, and preservation of artwork. Our team is made up of passionate experts in many mediums, including design, painting, printmaking, carpentry, photography, and sculpture. Art Work FAS offers services in Portland and Seattle, in addition to California’s Bay Area and Silicon Valley, Los Angeles, New York City, and across the Rocky Mountains.  

To request an estimate or find out more about the services Art Work Fine Art Services offers, visit artworkfas.com.  

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