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 stop by the Cleveland Museum of Art, have you at any time believed about who cares for the incredible selection? With the collection spanning almost 6,000 a long time of creative accomplishment, the CMA’s Collections Administration team works tough each and every working day to install exhibitions, coordinate artwork shipments, total gallery rotations, photograph and doc the selection, and much more! But what precisely is collections administration?

The collections administration division is produced up of many lesser teams, all specializing in different areas of collections treatment. Normally, the office is composed of a collections manager, registrars, art handlers, photographers, and a packing specialist. With each other they are accountable for all features of art movement and oversight — from transferring 1 portray out of storage to delivery an full exhibition throughout the world!


There are quite a few registrars doing work in the office, each individual focusing on a unique aspect of the position. The operate of a registrar is mainly coordinating info and preserving documents for the museum, as properly as getting on the front line for any logistical aspects relating to the works of art. As you can envision, this is a monumental job and need to be divided between a number of people today.

At the CMA, there are four unique forms of registrars.

Exhibition registrars regulate relations with other museums and loan providers when a specific exhibition is on watch at the museum, these kinds of as Tales of the Town: Drawing in the Netherlands from Bosch to Bruegel, Impressionism to Modernism: the Keithley Selection, and the exhibitions at the moment on watch in collaboration with Front Worldwide. Exhibition registrars coordinate just about every logistical element of the procedure when the CMA borrows operates of art from a further institution, non-public lender, or artist. The approach commences by helping the curator of the exhibition with generating official requests to the likely loan company and answering issues that the loan provider may well have when sending their home to the museum. Right after the official loan requests are approved and processed, the registrars start off to organize delivery preparations so that the function of art comes securely and on time for exhibit. After the artwork has arrived at the museum, the registrar oversees the total unpacking and final set up in the gallery or exhibition corridor. You can think about the complexity when typically much more than 100 objects are sent to the museum, from quite a few museums and loan providers, for just just one exhibition! Not to point out possessing to keep in finances, support couriers, and preserve a sharp eye on authorized necessities! Oh my!

The other facet of the coin is registrar for financial loans, who arranges for the will work of artwork at the CMA to travel the earth and introduce numerous national and global audiences to our remarkable collection! The registrar for financial loans must acquire opinions and subject worries from management, curators, and conservation professionals ahead of notifying a further establishment irrespective of whether its personal loan ask for has been accepted. Our registrar for financial loans arranges and cares for the is effective of artwork leaving the museum, working carefully with our packing expert to make absolutely sure that each and every piece of art is secured throughout travel.

All palms on deck! It took 10 staff members to pack Monet’s Water Lilies (Agapanthus) to journey on bank loan to Paris. This group contains artwork handlers, registrars, a packing professional, and our colleagues from the conservation division. The perform is now on watch at the Fondation Louis Vuitton’s Monet — Mitchell exhibition:

The registrar for acquisitions and very long-phrase financial loans is accountable for artworks that are currently being regarded as for or coming into the assortment. This registrar will have to talk with galleries and donors to convey these functions of artwork to the museum so that curators and conservation can analyze the parts much more carefully and current the is effective to the board of trustees for the duration of acquisition conferences. Should really the museum come to a decision to purchase a new do the job of artwork, the registrar is then billed with coordinating the obtain and completing all vital paperwork, delivery preparations, deal agreements, numbering, and behind-the-scenes database administration to bring the art to the museum for site visitors to get pleasure from!

Assistant Registrar Jacob Emmett applies an item quantity to an artwork employing conservation-risk-free procedures. This variety assists keep track of the spot of the artwork and is made use of to pull up all affiliated information in our databases that backlinks to Selection Online.

Eventually there is the assortment supervisor and registrar, accountable for protecting the lasting collection that is always housed in the museum and continues to be possibly on watch in our galleries or in storage. This registrar functions with leadership and curators to ensure that the galleries are constantly in best form and prepared to current to our site visitors. In addition to setting up do the job in the galleries, this registrar should care for and preserve the collection organized as very well, generating sure that our artwork storage and collections care is always meeting and exceeding field benchmarks for uncomplicated spot, upkeep, and obtain to our amazing selection.

Artwork Handlers

The 6 artwork handlers performing at the CMA are accountable for all art movement and gallery and exhibition installations at the museum. Every day the artwork handlers benefit from their combined expertise of applications, products, hardware, set up methods, and managing expertise to ensure that the collection is generally risk-free and available to site visitors even though on look at. When they are not setting up in the galleries, the art handlers support with delivering artwork to the photography studio to be digitized for inclusion in Assortment On-line, to the conservation lab for therapy, to the research rooms for curatorial and selection study, and much more. Examine out the Meet the Personnel portion in our customers journal, Cleveland Art, to study much more about this team.

Members of the art handling crew reinstall the Paul J. and Edith Ingalls Vignos gallery of British art (203A). Just about every installation needs considerate arranging and interaction to make sure absolutely everyone moves together as one unit. This is notably critical when significant equipment this kind of as scissor lifts are employed.


The CMA is fortuitous to have an in-residence packing expert who is properly versed in the most present packing methods and components necessary to properly ship artwork. Irrespective of whether it’s for a few miles down the road by truck or 3,000 miles by air, each and every piece is assessed for customized packing. We use only archival, shock-absorbent supplies that decrease doable hurt caused by movement, vibration, and off-gassing from other unstable packing resources.


Pictures plays an integral part in the museum, not only for our own reference and documentation but also for the public to be in a position to accessibility our outstanding collection on our web page from everywhere in the environment. The museum maintains a point out-of-the-artwork photographic studio able of handling the several new varieties of visualization afforded by the advent of electronic and computational imaging. It is staffed by 3 really professional and talented photographers with unique places of knowledge, and an business office supervisor who handles scheduling and disseminating the studio’s photographs exactly where they are desired. In generating imaging of our assortment objects for our Collection On the net, their get the job done gives a window to the environment, illustrating the breadth and depth of the CMA’s world-course collection. The studio operates intently with our curatorial staff to aid in scholarly study as effectively as with our conservation section to assistance their initiatives in collections care. They also generate imaging to specially greatly enhance our exhibitions.

Do you speculate where by we get all the incredible photos of our planet-renowned collection? The CMA photographers skillfully capture the greatest electronic sights of every artwork. Test out the CMA’s Selection On the web for a virtual visit and see all your favorite artworks in stunning depth!

Keep tuned for long term posts from the Collections Management workforce!