Meet Paul: Chief Preparator at the Brooks

Meet Paul Tracy, Chief Preparator for the Brooks. A preparator works with the registrar and curators to put together an exhibit. From the design and layout to the final installation, Paul is on the scene. Oh, and basically has the coolest job, ever. Here, he explains how — while he was working at the museum on his fiftieth birthday — he was transformed by a single work of art:

I celebrated my 50th birthday by saying goodbye to the Masterpieces from Museo de Arte de Ponce exhibition. I was sad to see such a great show leave the Brooks but was very relieved to see the last crate enter the truck. Several of the crates were so large and heavy that we had recruited all able and willing staff members to assist in the loading. All of the extra people and the fact that everything went very well lent quite a festive air to the proceedings. It was a very good birthday.

As the trucks carrying Masterpieces pulled out, Louis and I re-concentrated our efforts on preparing for the next exhibition, Venice in the Age of Canaletto, (which, coincidentally, is at the Brooks through May 9). Now that the galleries were empty, we began moving walls and getting ready to paint. We had 3 days to have all of the painting done in order to meet the two-week rule. All painting must be allowed two weeks to off-gas before any art can be brought into the galleries. Working throughout the Martin Luther King Day weekend and with the help of our co-workers Kip and Marilyn from the Registrar’s office and Stanton, the Curator of the exhibition, we were able to meet our deadline. Teamwork is one of the Brooks’ best assets.

Venice in the Age of Canaletto boasts an all star cast of lenders: the Isabella Gardner Museum, the Getty Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, and many others. There were many special requirements and the pressure was on. When the exhibition arrived with its conservators and couriers in tow we were ready, and I was feeling every bit of 50.

Our visitors were very pleased with all of our preparations and I breathed a sigh of relief. We then began the sometimes tedious process of uncrating all of the objects and checking the condition. Everything was going well and I was feeling better. When we opened the crate containing the Gardner’s Venetian Dressing Mirror I was mesmerized: the organic form and ornament were so light, so airy, it appeared to have grown from the earth. Every time I glanced at the mirror I was elated. By the end of the morning, I was feeling 12 again. The mirror had taken on magical qualities to me. I was transformed by the power of art.

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One thought on “Meet Paul: Chief Preparator at the Brooks

  1. This is so fabulous! I want to come to Memphi and see Gardner’s Venetian’s and be 12 again. Guess what? This ain’t going to happen till Christmas and then it will be gone! I guess I will just have to stay old!

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