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

By Sydney Slacas, Assistant Registrar

When you take a look at the Cleveland Museum of Art, have you ever assumed about who cares for the incredible selection? With the assortment spanning practically 6,000 decades of creative accomplishment, the CMA’s Collections Management staff will work challenging just about every day to put in exhibitions, coordinate art shipments, total gallery rotations, photograph and document the selection, and much extra! But what specifically is collections administration?

The collections management office is built up of several lesser teams, all specializing in distinctive features of collections care. Typically, the division is composed of a collections supervisor, registrars, artwork handlers, photographers, and a packing expert. Together they are responsible for all elements of artwork motion and oversight — from transferring 1 portray out of storage to shipping an overall exhibition across the globe!


There are several registrars doing the job in the department, each individual focusing on a diverse component of the occupation. The do the job of a registrar is mainly coordinating info and preserving documents for the museum, as nicely as getting on the front line for any logistical areas relating to the operates of art. As you can think about, this is a monumental endeavor and need to be divided between numerous people today.

At the CMA, there are 4 unique varieties of registrars.

Exhibition registrars take care of relations with other museums and loan companies when a distinctive exhibition is on perspective at the museum, these kinds of as Tales of the Town: Drawing in the Netherlands from Bosch to Bruegel, Impressionism to Modernism: the Keithley Collection, and the exhibitions at this time on look at in collaboration with Front Worldwide. Exhibition registrars coordinate every single logistical depth of the course of action when the CMA borrows performs of art from yet another establishment, private financial institution, or artist. The system commences by helping the curator of the exhibition with creating official requests to the probable loan company and answering issues that the lender could have when sending their house to the museum. Right after the formal mortgage requests are accepted and processed, the registrars commence to organize transport arrangements so that the work of artwork comes properly and on time for display screen. Once the artwork has arrived at the museum, the registrar oversees the overall unpacking and best set up in the gallery or exhibition hall. You can picture the complexity when frequently more than 100 objects are sent to the museum, from quite a few museums and loan companies, for just just one exhibition! Not to mention having to continue to be in spending plan, aid couriers, and maintain a sharp eye on lawful specifications! Oh my!

The other facet of the coin is registrar for loans, who arranges for the will work of art at the CMA to travel the entire world and introduce numerous nationwide and international audiences to our awesome assortment! The registrar for loans have to receive feedback and industry considerations from management, curators, and conservation professionals ahead of notifying a different establishment whether its mortgage request has been authorised. Our registrar for loans arranges and cares for the operates of art leaving the museum, operating closely with our packing specialist to make positive that just about every piece of art is secured throughout travel.

All fingers on deck! It took 10 personnel users to pack Monet’s Drinking water Lilies (Agapanthus) to travel on personal loan to Paris. This team involves art handlers, registrars, a packing specialist, and our colleagues from the conservation section. The do the job is now on perspective at the Fondation Louis Vuitton’s Monet — Mitchell exhibition:

The registrar for acquisitions and lengthy-time period loans is accountable for artworks that are getting considered for or getting into the assortment. This registrar should converse with galleries and donors to deliver these functions of artwork to the museum so that curators and conservation can take a look at the pieces more closely and existing the works to the board of trustees throughout acquisition meetings. Really should the museum make a decision to receive a new do the job of art, the registrar is then charged with coordinating the purchase and finishing all essential paperwork, shipping arrangements, contract agreements, numbering, and powering-the-scenes databases administration to convey the artwork to the museum for site visitors to enjoy!

Assistant Registrar Jacob Emmett applies an object amount to an artwork applying conservation-safe and sound procedures. This quantity will help monitor the area of the artwork and is utilised to pull up all involved information in our database that back links to Collection On the internet.

Eventually there is the collection supervisor and registrar, accountable for keeping the lasting assortment that is generally housed in the museum and continues to be possibly on perspective in our galleries or in storage. This registrar is effective with leadership and curators to ensure that the galleries are normally in top rated variety and all set to current to our website visitors. In addition to installing function in the galleries, this registrar have to treatment for and preserve the assortment structured as very well, producing absolutely sure that our art storage and collections care is often meeting and exceeding business specifications for straightforward place, routine maintenance, and accessibility to our incredible assortment.

Art Handlers

The 6 artwork handlers functioning at the CMA are dependable for all artwork movement and gallery and exhibition installations at the museum. Each individual working day the artwork handlers employ their put together information of resources, tools, hardware, installation strategies, and handling capabilities to guarantee that the collection is constantly protected and obtainable to visitors when on perspective. When they are not setting up in the galleries, the artwork handlers support with offering artwork to the pictures studio to be digitized for inclusion in Selection On the internet, to the conservation lab for therapy, to the study rooms for curatorial and selection research, and much more. Examine out the Meet the Employees part in our members magazine, Cleveland Art, to read much more about this group.

Associates of the artwork dealing with staff reinstall the Paul J. and Edith Ingalls Vignos gallery of British artwork (203A). Just about every installation needs thoughtful preparing and interaction to guarantee anyone moves collectively as a person device. This is notably essential when weighty tools these kinds of as scissor lifts are used.


The CMA is privileged to have an in-home packing specialist who is well versed in the most latest packing solutions and elements necessary to safely ship artwork. Whether it’s for 3 miles down the highway by truck or 3,000 miles by air, every single piece is assessed for custom made packing. We use only archival, shock-absorbent resources that minimize feasible problems triggered by motion, vibration, and off-gassing from other unstable packing materials.


Pictures performs an integral function in the museum, not only for our possess reference and documentation but also for the community to be ready to access our incredible selection on our site from any place in the environment. The museum maintains a condition-of-the-art photographic studio able of managing the several new varieties of visualization afforded by the introduction of electronic and computational imaging. It is staffed by three hugely seasoned and talented photographers with distinct places of abilities, and an office environment supervisor who handles scheduling and disseminating the studio’s photographs where by they are necessary. In producing imaging of our assortment objects for our Selection On-line, their operate presents a window to the environment, illustrating the breadth and depth of the CMA’s entire world-course selection. The studio is effective closely with our curatorial workers to assist in scholarly study as well as with our conservation office to support their initiatives in collections treatment. They also make imaging to particularly greatly enhance our exhibitions.

Do you surprise where we get all the remarkable images of our globe-renowned selection? The CMA photographers skillfully seize the very best electronic sights of just about every artwork. Verify out the CMA’s Collection On the internet for a digital take a look at and see all your favored artworks in magnificent detail!

Stay tuned for future posts from the Collections Administration team!

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