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 pay a visit to the Cleveland Museum of Artwork, have you ever thought about who cares for the amazing assortment? With far more than 64,000 objects spanning just about 6,000 many years of artistic accomplishment, the CMA’s Collections Administration team works tough each working day to install exhibitions, coordinate artwork shipments, entire gallery rotations, photograph and doc the collection, and considerably a lot more! But what accurately is collections management?

The collections management division is manufactured up of several scaled-down groups, all specializing in various elements of collections care. Generally, the office is made up of a collections manager, registrars, art handlers, photographers, and a packing professional. With each other they are accountable for all aspects of art movement and oversight — from going just one painting out of storage to shipping and delivery an overall exhibition across the planet!


There are quite a few registrars operating in the office, just about every concentrating on a various factor of the task. The work of a registrar is predominantly coordinating information and facts and holding information for the museum, as nicely as being on the front line for any logistical elements regarding the operates of artwork. As you can think about, this is a monumental job and need to be divided between quite a few people.

At the CMA, there are 4 distinct kinds of registrars.

Exhibition registrars handle relations with other museums and loan companies when a unique exhibition is on view at the museum, these types 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 perspective in collaboration with Front International. Exhibition registrars coordinate every logistical element of the course of action when the CMA borrows works of art from yet another institution, personal loan company, or artist. The course of action begins by assisting the curator of the exhibition with earning formal requests to the likely lender and answering thoughts that the financial institution may possibly have when sending their assets to the museum. Just after the formal mortgage requests are permitted and processed, the registrars start out to manage delivery arrangements so that the perform of art arrives properly and on time for show. Once the artwork has arrived at the museum, the registrar oversees the entire unpacking and ultimate installation in the gallery or exhibition hall. You can envision the complexity when usually additional than 100 objects are sent to the museum, from lots of museums and loan providers, for just just one exhibition! Not to point out possessing to remain within budget, help couriers, and keep a sharp eye on lawful requirements! Oh my!

The other aspect of the coin is registrar for loans, who arranges for the functions of artwork at the CMA to journey the world and introduce many national and worldwide audiences to our amazing selection! The registrar for loans need to receive opinions and subject concerns from leadership, curators, and conservation experts just before notifying another institution no matter whether its personal loan request has been accepted. Our registrar for loans arranges and cares for the will work of artwork leaving the museum, performing closely with our packing expert to make positive that every piece of artwork is shielded during journey.

All fingers on deck! It took 10 staff members associates to pack Monet’s Drinking water Lilies (Agapanthus) to vacation on bank loan to Paris. This team features art handlers, registrars, a packing expert, and our colleagues from the conservation division. The work is now on look at at the Fondation Louis Vuitton’s Monet — Mitchell exhibition:

The registrar for acquisitions and extensive-time period loans is liable for artworks that are staying regarded as for or coming into the collection. This registrar ought to converse with galleries and donors to deliver these is effective of artwork to the museum so that curators and conservation can take a look at the items more closely and present the is effective to the board of trustees throughout acquisition meetings. Must the museum come to a decision to receive a new function of art, the registrar is then charged with coordinating the obtain and completing all necessary paperwork, transport arrangements, agreement agreements, numbering, and behind-the-scenes database management to deliver the art to the museum for people to enjoy!

Assistant Registrar Jacob Emmett applies an item range to an artwork employing conservation-secure procedures. This selection helps keep track of the location of the artwork and is utilized to pull up all connected details in our databases that backlinks to Collection On-line.

At last there is the assortment manager and registrar, liable for preserving the long lasting collection that is always housed in the museum and continues to be possibly on see in our galleries or in storage. This registrar is effective with leadership and curators to make sure that the galleries are often in best variety and all set to current to our readers. In addition to putting in function in the galleries, this registrar have to care for and maintain the assortment arranged as very well, earning confident that our art storage and collections treatment is normally assembly and exceeding sector standards for simple locale, upkeep, and access to our amazing collection.

Art Handlers

The six art handlers functioning at the CMA are accountable for all artwork motion and gallery and exhibition installations at the museum. Each and every day the artwork handlers utilize their merged awareness of equipment, gear, hardware, set up approaches, and handling competencies to guarantee that the assortment is constantly protected and accessible to visitors while on watch. When they’re not installing in the galleries, the artwork handlers support with delivering artwork to the images studio to be digitized for inclusion in Selection On-line, to the conservation lab for remedy, to the research rooms for curatorial and collection study, and much more. Verify out the Fulfill the Staff members segment in our associates magazine, Cleveland Artwork, to read through extra about this staff.

Members of the artwork dealing with workforce reinstall the Paul J. and Edith Ingalls Vignos gallery of British artwork (203A). Each individual installation involves thoughtful preparing and conversation to make certain absolutely everyone moves jointly as one particular unit. This is specially crucial when hefty tools these as scissor lifts are made use of.


The CMA is fortuitous to have an in-house packing professional who is nicely versed in the most present packing procedures and resources necessary to safely and securely ship artwork. Irrespective of whether it is for three miles down the highway by truck or 3,000 miles by air, just about every piece is assessed for custom made packing. We use only archival, shock-absorbent products that lower attainable destruction prompted by movement, vibration, and off-gassing from other unstable packing elements.


Images plays an integral job in the museum, not only for our individual reference and documentation but also for the public to be equipped to accessibility our outstanding collection on our website from any place in the earth. The museum maintains a condition-of-the-art photographic studio capable of dealing with the several new forms of visualization afforded by the arrival of electronic and computational imaging. It is staffed by a few highly knowledgeable and talented photographers with distinctive parts of experience, and an workplace supervisor who handles scheduling and disseminating the studio’s photographs where by they are essential. In developing imaging of our assortment objects for our Collection On-line, their operate presents a window to the world, illustrating the breadth and depth of the CMA’s world-class collection. The studio performs carefully with our curatorial staff to assist in scholarly investigate as well as with our conservation division to help their initiatives in collections care. They also generate imaging to precisely enrich our exhibitions.

Do you surprise the place we get all the amazing pictures of our environment-renowned selection? The CMA photographers skillfully seize the best electronic sights of just about every artwork. Check out the CMA’s Assortment On the net for a virtual go to and see all your favourite artworks in gorgeous depth!

Keep tuned for potential posts from the Collections Management crew!

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