Component Parts of Collections Management: Who’s Who? | by Cleveland Museum of Art | CMA Thinker | Oct, 2022

Component Parts of Collections Management: Who’s Who? | by Cleveland Museum of Art | CMA Thinker | Oct, 2022

By Sydney Slacas, Assistant Registrar

When you check out the Cleveland Museum of Artwork, have you at any time thought about who cares for the extraordinary collection? With far more than 64,000 objects spanning virtually 6,000 years of creative achievement, the CMA’s Collections Management workforce operates hard just about every day to install exhibitions, coordinate artwork shipments, full gallery rotations, photograph and doc the selection, and considerably additional! But what particularly is collections administration?

The collections management department is produced up of a number of scaled-down groups, all specializing in different aspects of collections treatment. Usually, the section is made up of a collections supervisor, registrars, art handlers, photographers, and a packing expert. Jointly they are accountable for all areas of art motion and oversight — from relocating one portray out of storage to transport an full exhibition throughout the earth!


There are quite a few registrars doing the job in the section, every single focusing on a various component of the occupation. The perform of a registrar is generally coordinating facts and maintaining records for the museum, as perfectly as getting on the entrance line for any logistical aspects with regards to the will work of artwork. As you can picture, this is a monumental task and need to be divided among a number of people today.

At the CMA, there are four diverse kinds of registrars.

Exhibition registrars regulate relations with other museums and lenders when a distinctive exhibition is on view at the museum, these types of as Tales of the Metropolis: Drawing in the Netherlands from Bosch to Bruegel, Impressionism to Modernism: the Keithley Selection, and the exhibitions at this time on perspective in collaboration with Front Worldwide. Exhibition registrars coordinate every logistical element of the system when the CMA borrows performs of artwork from a further establishment, non-public lender, or artist. The method begins by helping the curator of the exhibition with producing formal requests to the probable loan company and answering inquiries that the lender may well have when sending their house to the museum. Following the formal loan requests are accepted and processed, the registrars commence to organize shipping and delivery preparations so that the operate of art comes securely and on time for show. As soon as the artwork has arrived at the museum, the registrar oversees the entire unpacking and supreme installation in the gallery or exhibition hall. You can envision the complexity when normally far more than 100 objects are sent to the museum, from several museums and loan providers, for just a person exhibition! Not to mention getting to continue to be within just spending budget, guide couriers, and preserve a sharp eye on authorized specifications! Oh my!

The other aspect of the coin is registrar for loans, who arranges for the will work of artwork at the CMA to journey the world and introduce many nationwide and global audiences to our incredible selection! The registrar for loans must acquire feedback and field considerations from leadership, curators, and conservation professionals before notifying another institution whether or not its personal loan request has been accredited. Our registrar for financial loans arranges and cares for the works of art leaving the museum, operating carefully with our packing professional to make certain that each individual piece of artwork is secured all through travel.

All hands on deck! It took 10 employees users to pack Monet’s H2o Lilies (Agapanthus) to travel on financial loan to Paris. This team incorporates art handlers, registrars, a packing specialist, and our colleagues from the conservation section. The function is now on view at the Fondation Louis Vuitton’s Monet — Mitchell exhibition:

The registrar for acquisitions and long-expression loans is dependable for artworks that are remaining considered for or coming into the selection. This registrar will have to talk with galleries and donors to bring these is effective of artwork to the museum so that curators and conservation can study the parts much more closely and existing the works to the board of trustees through acquisition conferences. Should really the museum make your mind up to purchase a new do the job of artwork, the registrar is then charged with coordinating the buy and completing all necessary paperwork, shipping arrangements, contract agreements, numbering, and guiding-the-scenes database management to deliver the art to the museum for guests to take pleasure in!

Assistant Registrar Jacob Emmett applies an item variety to an artwork utilizing conservation-secure solutions. This selection allows track the locale of the artwork and is utilised to pull up all affiliated data in our databases that inbound links to Collection Online.

Eventually there is the selection supervisor and registrar, dependable for sustaining the everlasting selection that is generally housed in the museum and continues to be either on see in our galleries or in storage. This registrar operates with management and curators to assure that the galleries are constantly in major variety and completely ready to existing to our people. In addition to setting up get the job done in the galleries, this registrar need to treatment for and maintain the collection organized as very well, generating sure that our art storage and collections treatment is normally assembly and exceeding market benchmarks for simple location, maintenance, and obtain to our extraordinary collection.

Art Handlers

The 6 art handlers operating at the CMA are accountable for all artwork movement and gallery and exhibition installations at the museum. Every single working day the art handlers make the most of their merged understanding of tools, tools, components, set up approaches, and dealing with skills to guarantee that the collection is always secure and available to readers although on look at. When they are not setting up in the galleries, the art handlers support with providing artwork to the pictures studio to be digitized for inclusion in Collection Online, to the conservation lab for treatment method, to the research rooms for curatorial and selection analysis, and additional. Verify out the Satisfy the Staff members section in our members magazine, Cleveland Art, to go through more about this crew.

Associates of the art dealing with staff reinstall the Paul J. and Edith Ingalls Vignos gallery of British artwork (203A). Each and every set up requires considerate setting up and interaction to be certain anyone moves collectively as just one unit. This is especially important when large equipment these as scissor lifts are applied.


The CMA is fortunate to have an in-house packing expert who is properly versed in the most current packing strategies and components essential to safely and securely ship artwork. No matter whether it is for a few miles down the highway by truck or 3,000 miles by air, every piece is assessed for customized packing. We use only archival, shock-absorbent supplies that minimize feasible damage caused by movement, vibration, and off-gassing from other unstable packing elements.


Images performs an integral position in the museum, not only for our have reference and documentation but also for the general public to be equipped to entry our incredible assortment on our internet site from anyplace in the world. The museum maintains a condition-of-the-artwork photographic studio able of managing the lots of new types of visualization afforded by the advent of digital and computational imaging. It is staffed by a few hugely professional and proficient photographers with distinctive spots of expertise, and an office manager who handles scheduling and disseminating the studio’s photographs in which they are required. In creating imaging of our assortment objects for our Assortment On the web, their perform presents a window to the entire world, illustrating the breadth and depth of the CMA’s earth-course assortment. The studio performs closely with our curatorial workers to assist in scholarly study as well as with our conservation department to aid their attempts in collections care. They also produce imaging to especially enhance our exhibitions.

Do you question the place we get all the awesome photographs of our globe-renowned selection? The CMA photographers skillfully seize the best digital views of just about every artwork. Check out the CMA’s Selection On the web for a digital go to and see all your beloved artworks in magnificent depth!

Keep tuned for future posts from the Collections Administration team!

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