Hang Men: The Unsung Heroes of the Art World
An intimate look into the lives of the New York gallery scene's silent schleppers.
Before every serene art gallery show, dozens of people struggle with impossible catalogue deadlines, finicky lighting, and work that is just too wide for the door. Curators fight with project managers who are constantly measuring each piece’s temperature and humidity level—even the degree of nuclear emission, in some cases. Caption writers wrangle with graphic designers who refuse to use capital letters because of the implied hierarchy among characters.
During my years working as a curator and researcher at art and science museums across London, I always noted that while these discussions grew heated and loud and obtuse, another group remained silent and in the background. This team of built men (they were almost always men) went about their business hauling room-sized artistic renditions of gallbladders, two-ton medieval dentistry chairs, and oversized oil paintings of 1960s garden parties. They did this with barely a sound.
These art handlers, typically working in…