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 Artwork, have you ever assumed about who cares for the incredible collection? With more than 64,000 objects spanning approximately 6,000 a long time of creative accomplishment, the CMA’s Collections Administration group functions really hard each day to set up exhibitions, coordinate artwork shipments, entire gallery rotations, photograph and document the selection, and considerably much more! But what specifically is collections administration?

The collections management section is made up of a number of smaller sized teams, all specializing in various factors of collections treatment. Generally, the department is made up of a collections manager, registrars, artwork handlers, photographers, and a packing specialist. With each other they are dependable for all factors of art motion and oversight — from moving one particular painting out of storage to delivery an whole exhibition across the environment!


There are numerous registrars performing in the office, every single concentrating on a various component of the work. The do the job of a registrar is predominantly coordinating information and retaining data for the museum, as effectively as getting on the front line for any logistical features pertaining to the performs of artwork. As you can visualize, this is a monumental process and have to be divided amongst a number of folks.

At the CMA, there are 4 diverse styles of registrars.

Exhibition registrars manage relations with other museums and lenders when a particular exhibition is on see at the museum, this sort of as Tales of the Metropolis: Drawing in the Netherlands from Bosch to Bruegel, Impressionism to Modernism: the Keithley Selection, and the exhibitions at the moment on perspective in collaboration with Front Intercontinental. Exhibition registrars coordinate every single logistical detail of the system when the CMA borrows functions of artwork from a different establishment, personal loan provider, or artist. The system begins by assisting the curator of the exhibition with building formal requests to the possible loan provider and answering questions that the loan company may well have when sending their assets to the museum. Right after the official mortgage requests are permitted and processed, the registrars start out to arrange delivery arrangements so that the perform of art arrives safely and securely and on time for display. At the time the artwork has arrived at the museum, the registrar oversees the full unpacking and greatest installation in the gallery or exhibition hall. You can think about the complexity when normally additional than 100 objects are sent to the museum, from quite a few museums and creditors, for just just one exhibition! Not to mention obtaining to remain in funds, help couriers, and keep a sharp eye on legal needs! Oh my!

The other side of the coin is registrar for loans, who arranges for the will work of artwork at the CMA to vacation the environment and introduce different national and worldwide audiences to our incredible selection! The registrar for financial loans ought to get feedback and subject considerations from management, curators, and conservation specialists ahead of notifying yet another institution regardless of whether its bank loan ask for has been authorized. Our registrar for loans arranges and cares for the performs of artwork leaving the museum, working intently with our packing specialist to make sure that every single piece of artwork is shielded all through vacation.

All arms on deck! It took 10 workers associates to pack Monet’s Water Lilies (Agapanthus) to journey on personal loan to Paris. This team features art handlers, registrars, a packing expert, and our colleagues from the conservation division. The operate is now on watch at the Fondation Louis Vuitton’s Monet — Mitchell exhibition:

The registrar for acquisitions and very long-expression loans is accountable for artworks that are getting regarded as for or entering the assortment. This registrar will have to talk with galleries and donors to provide these operates of artwork to the museum so that curators and conservation can take a look at the items far more closely and existing the performs to the board of trustees in the course of acquisition meetings. Should the museum come to a decision to purchase a new work of art, the registrar is then billed with coordinating the acquire and finishing all important paperwork, delivery arrangements, deal agreements, numbering, and powering-the-scenes databases management to bring the artwork to the museum for website visitors to get pleasure from!

Assistant Registrar Jacob Emmett applies an item amount to an artwork applying conservation-safe procedures. This selection allows track the place of the artwork and is employed to pull up all connected facts in our database that inbound links to Collection On the internet.

Eventually there is the assortment supervisor and registrar, dependable for preserving the long term assortment that is generally housed in the museum and remains possibly on look at in our galleries or in storage. This registrar works with management and curators to assure that the galleries are generally in best type and all set to present to our website visitors. In addition to putting in function in the galleries, this registrar ought to care for and maintain the selection arranged as properly, generating confident that our art storage and collections care is normally conference and exceeding business standards for easy place, routine maintenance, and obtain to our incredible selection.

Art Handlers

The 6 artwork handlers operating at the CMA are dependable for all artwork movement and gallery and exhibition installations at the museum. Just about every working day the art handlers utilize their mixed understanding of tools, devices, components, installation procedures, and handling abilities to assure that the collection is usually secure and available to readers when on perspective. When they’re not setting up in the galleries, the artwork handlers guide with providing artwork to the images studio to be digitized for inclusion in Selection On-line, to the conservation lab for therapy, to the research rooms for curatorial and assortment investigation, and additional. Check out the Meet up with the Employees part in our users magazine, Cleveland Artwork, to study more about this staff.

Associates of the artwork managing workforce reinstall the Paul J. and Edith Ingalls Vignos gallery of British art (203A). Every set up necessitates thoughtful setting up and communication to guarantee every person moves collectively as just one unit. This is notably critical when large equipment such as scissor lifts are utilized.


The CMA is fortuitous to have an in-property packing expert who is properly versed in the most current packing strategies and elements essential to safely ship artwork. Regardless of whether it’s for three miles down the street by truck or 3,000 miles by air, each piece is assessed for custom packing. We use only archival, shock-absorbent resources that cut down feasible harm induced by motion, vibration, and off-gassing from other unstable packing resources.


Pictures performs an integral function in the museum, not only for our individual reference and documentation but also for the general public to be equipped to accessibility our extraordinary collection on our web-site from anywhere in the world. The museum maintains a state-of-the-artwork photographic studio capable of dealing with the quite a few new types of visualization afforded by the arrival of electronic and computational imaging. It is staffed by 3 remarkably seasoned and proficient photographers with unique spots of expertise, and an workplace manager who handles scheduling and disseminating the studio’s images in which they are required. In making imaging of our assortment objects for our Collection On the net, their get the job done offers a window to the globe, illustrating the breadth and depth of the CMA’s world-class collection. The studio functions intently with our curatorial personnel to aid in scholarly investigate as nicely as with our conservation division to support their initiatives in collections treatment. They also produce imaging to specifically boost our exhibitions.

Do you ponder where by we get all the remarkable photos of our world-renowned selection? The CMA photographers skillfully capture the most effective electronic views of every artwork. Check out the CMA’s Selection On line for a virtual check out and see all your favorite artworks in gorgeous depth!

Remain tuned for potential posts from the Collections Management crew!

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