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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 take a look at the Cleveland Museum of Art, have you at any time considered about who cares for the remarkable collection? With the collection spanning almost 6,000 years of creative accomplishment, the CMA’s Collections Administration team functions tough just about every working day to put in exhibitions, coordinate artwork shipments, finish gallery rotations, photograph and document the selection, and a great deal more! But what accurately is collections administration?

The collections management division is produced up of various smaller groups, all specializing in distinctive factors of collections treatment. Frequently, the office is made up of a collections supervisor, registrars, art handlers, photographers, and a packing expert. Together they are liable for all aspects of art motion and oversight — from transferring 1 painting out of storage to shipping and delivery an whole exhibition throughout the earth!


There are quite a few registrars operating in the office, each individual focusing on a different aspect of the job. The do the job of a registrar is mainly coordinating info and retaining data for the museum, as effectively as being on the entrance line for any logistical areas relating to the performs of artwork. As you can consider, this is a monumental job and need to be divided amongst numerous individuals.

At the CMA, there are four different styles of registrars.

Exhibition registrars control relations with other museums and creditors when a unique 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 Collection, and the exhibitions presently on watch in collaboration with Entrance Worldwide. Exhibition registrars coordinate just about every logistical depth of the system when the CMA borrows is effective of art from yet another institution, non-public lender, or artist. The approach begins by assisting the curator of the exhibition with building official requests to the probable financial institution and answering questions that the lender might have when sending their home to the museum. Just after the official personal loan requests are permitted and processed, the registrars begin to organize delivery arrangements so that the get the job done of art comes properly and on time for show. When the artwork has arrived at the museum, the registrar oversees the overall unpacking and supreme set up in the gallery or exhibition hall. You can visualize the complexity when normally additional than 100 objects are despatched to the museum, from lots of museums and creditors, for just one particular exhibition! Not to mention obtaining to remain within spending budget, support couriers, and keep a sharp eye on legal requirements! Oh my!

The other facet of the coin is registrar for financial loans, who arranges for the performs of art at the CMA to vacation the globe and introduce a variety of countrywide and worldwide audiences to our wonderful selection! The registrar for loans ought to receive responses and subject concerns from leadership, curators, and conservation specialists just before notifying another establishment no matter whether its loan ask for has been accredited. Our registrar for loans arranges and cares for the will work of artwork leaving the museum, performing closely with our packing specialist to make confident that just about every piece of art is secured for the duration of journey.

All hands on deck! It took 10 employees customers to pack Monet’s H2o Lilies (Agapanthus) to vacation on bank loan to Paris. This team involves artwork handlers, registrars, a packing professional, and our colleagues from the conservation section. The do the job is now on see at the Fondation Louis Vuitton’s Monet — Mitchell exhibition:

The registrar for acquisitions and long-phrase loans is liable for artworks that are getting considered for or moving into the assortment. This registrar ought to converse with galleries and donors to provide these will work of art to the museum so that curators and conservation can study the parts much more closely and current the performs to the board of trustees all through acquisition conferences. Really should the museum make a decision to receive a new operate of artwork, the registrar is then billed with coordinating the acquire and completing all vital paperwork, delivery preparations, agreement agreements, numbering, and at the rear of-the-scenes database administration to convey the art to the museum for website visitors to love!

Assistant Registrar Jacob Emmett applies an item range to an artwork making use of conservation-secure approaches. This range allows keep track of the locale of the artwork and is applied to pull up all related information in our database that hyperlinks to Selection On the net.

Last but not least there is the assortment supervisor and registrar, accountable for protecting the long lasting assortment that is always housed in the museum and continues to be possibly on check out in our galleries or in storage. This registrar functions with leadership and curators to make sure that the galleries are always in prime kind and all set to existing to our guests. In addition to installing do the job in the galleries, this registrar have to care for and maintain the assortment structured as perfectly, producing sure that our art storage and collections care is normally meeting and exceeding field requirements for simple spot, maintenance, and accessibility to our remarkable selection.

Artwork Handlers

The six artwork handlers working at the CMA are responsible for all art movement and gallery and exhibition installations at the museum. Each individual day the artwork handlers employ their mixed expertise of tools, products, components, set up methods, and managing abilities to make certain that the collection is always harmless and available to guests whilst on perspective. When they’re not putting in in the galleries, the art handlers support with delivering artwork to the images studio to be digitized for inclusion in Selection On-line, to the conservation lab for procedure, to the analyze rooms for curatorial and assortment investigation, and far more. Examine out the Satisfy the Personnel portion in our users journal, Cleveland Art, to read a lot more about this crew.

Users of the art dealing with crew reinstall the Paul J. and Edith Ingalls Vignos gallery of British art (203A). Each and every installation calls for considerate planning and conversation to assure everybody moves with each other as 1 unit. This is specially essential when large tools this kind of as scissor lifts are utilised.


The CMA is fortuitous to have an in-property packing expert who is well versed in the most present packing procedures and supplies needed to securely ship artwork. No matter if it’s for three miles down the street by truck or 3,000 miles by air, each piece is assessed for personalized packing. We use only archival, shock-absorbent elements that minimize achievable harm caused by movement, vibration, and off-gassing from other unstable packing supplies.


Pictures plays an integral job in the museum, not only for our own reference and documentation but also for the public to be equipped to entry our unbelievable assortment on our internet site from wherever in the world. The museum maintains a condition-of-the-artwork photographic studio capable of dealing with the quite a few new sorts of visualization afforded by the arrival of digital and computational imaging. It is staffed by a few remarkably experienced and gifted photographers with diverse parts of skills, and an workplace supervisor who handles scheduling and disseminating the studio’s pictures where they are needed. In manufacturing imaging of our assortment objects for our Assortment On the net, their get the job done supplies a window to the world, illustrating the breadth and depth of the CMA’s entire world-course selection. The studio performs closely with our curatorial staff members to assist in scholarly investigate as effectively as with our conservation department to support their endeavours in collections care. They also generate imaging to exclusively enrich our exhibitions.

Do you surprise wherever we get all the amazing photos of our world-renowned collection? The CMA photographers skillfully seize the best electronic views of every single artwork. Check out the CMA’s Collection On-line for a virtual visit and see all your favourite artworks in lovely depth!

Keep tuned for potential posts from the Collections Administration staff!