May 18, 2024


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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 go to the Cleveland Museum of Art, have you ever believed about who cares for the extraordinary selection? With the selection spanning approximately 6,000 yrs of artistic achievement, the CMA’s Collections Administration staff works hard just about every day to put in exhibitions, coordinate artwork shipments, total gallery rotations, photograph and doc the selection, and significantly far more! But what just is collections administration?

The collections administration division is made up of quite a few smaller sized groups, all specializing in various factors of collections care. Usually, the division consists of a collections supervisor, registrars, artwork handlers, photographers, and a packing specialist. Collectively they are dependable for all facets of art motion and oversight — from moving 1 portray out of storage to transport an overall exhibition across the environment!


There are various registrars operating in the division, every concentrating on a different facet of the position. The perform of a registrar is mainly coordinating information and preserving records for the museum, as effectively as staying on the front line for any logistical facets with regards to the functions of artwork. As you can visualize, this is a monumental task and have to be divided amid several men and women.

At the CMA, there are four distinctive sorts of registrars.

Exhibition registrars regulate relations with other museums and lenders when a unique exhibition is on view at the museum, such as Tales of the City: Drawing in the Netherlands from Bosch to Bruegel, Impressionism to Modernism: the Keithley Assortment, and the exhibitions presently on perspective in collaboration with Front Global. Exhibition registrars coordinate every logistical element of the procedure when the CMA borrows will work of artwork from an additional institution, personal financial institution, or artist. The method begins by aiding the curator of the exhibition with creating official requests to the likely lender and answering thoughts that the loan company could possibly have when sending their residence to the museum. Following the formal loan requests are authorized and processed, the registrars start off to organize shipping and delivery arrangements so that the function of art arrives safely and on time for display. Once the artwork has arrived at the museum, the registrar oversees the complete unpacking and greatest installation in the gallery or exhibition hall. You can envision the complexity when often extra than 100 objects are despatched to the museum, from quite a few museums and lenders, for just one exhibition! Not to mention owning to continue to be within price range, help couriers, and continue to keep a sharp eye on legal demands! Oh my!

The other facet of the coin is registrar for loans, who arranges for the works of artwork at the CMA to travel the earth and introduce different countrywide and international audiences to our incredible collection! The registrar for loans must get comments and field worries from leadership, curators, and conservation professionals before notifying one more establishment no matter if its bank loan ask for has been authorized. Our registrar for financial loans arranges and cares for the is effective of artwork leaving the museum, performing closely with our packing expert to make guaranteed that just about every piece of art is protected in the course of travel.

All fingers on deck! It took 10 personnel users to pack Monet’s Drinking water Lilies (Agapanthus) to vacation on mortgage to Paris. This group contains art handlers, registrars, a packing specialist, and our colleagues from the conservation office. The perform is now on see at the Fondation Louis Vuitton’s Monet — Mitchell exhibition:

The registrar for acquisitions and very long-time period loans is dependable for artworks that are getting thought of for or coming into the selection. This registrar ought to communicate with galleries and donors to deliver these will work of art to the museum so that curators and conservation can examine the parts much more closely and current the functions to the board of trustees during acquisition meetings. Really should the museum make your mind up to purchase a new do the job of art, the registrar is then charged with coordinating the buy and finishing all necessary paperwork, transport arrangements, agreement agreements, numbering, and behind-the-scenes databases administration to bring the artwork to the museum for people to take pleasure in!

Assistant Registrar Jacob Emmett applies an item selection to an artwork working with conservation-safe and sound procedures. This variety assists keep track of the area of the artwork and is employed to pull up all involved facts in our databases that one-way links to Collection Online.

Finally there is the collection manager and registrar, liable for protecting the lasting selection that is often housed in the museum and stays possibly on check out in our galleries or in storage. This registrar performs with management and curators to make certain that the galleries are always in major kind and all set to existing to our website visitors. In addition to putting in function in the galleries, this registrar need to treatment for and preserve the assortment arranged as perfectly, building sure that our artwork storage and collections treatment is usually conference and exceeding field specifications for simple spot, upkeep, and entry to our remarkable collection.

Artwork Handlers

The six artwork handlers doing the job at the CMA are liable for all artwork movement and gallery and exhibition installations at the museum. Each individual day the artwork handlers utilize their mixed expertise of equipment, devices, hardware, set up strategies, and dealing with skills to be certain that the assortment is usually harmless and accessible to site visitors whilst on see. When they are not installing in the galleries, the artwork handlers guide with offering artwork to the images studio to be digitized for inclusion in Assortment On the net, to the conservation lab for treatment, to the study rooms for curatorial and collection investigation, and a lot more. Verify out the Meet the Staff members section in our members journal, Cleveland Art, to study a lot more about this team.

Customers of the art dealing with team reinstall the Paul J. and Edith Ingalls Vignos gallery of British artwork (203A). Just about every set up needs considerate arranging and communication to be certain every person moves collectively as just one device. This is specially essential when major devices this kind of as scissor lifts are utilised.


The CMA is privileged to have an in-property packing professional who is perfectly versed in the most recent packing strategies and elements necessary to securely ship artwork. No matter whether it is for 3 miles down the highway by truck or 3,000 miles by air, each and every piece is assessed for custom packing. We use only archival, shock-absorbent materials that reduce attainable destruction brought about by motion, vibration, and off-gassing from other unstable packing components.


Pictures plays an integral position in the museum, not only for our very own reference and documentation but also for the general public to be equipped to entry our unbelievable collection on our web page from anywhere in the globe. The museum maintains a condition-of-the-artwork photographic studio capable of managing the numerous new types of visualization afforded by the advent of digital and computational imaging. It is staffed by 3 remarkably seasoned and gifted photographers with distinctive regions of experience, and an business office supervisor who handles scheduling and disseminating the studio’s photos in which they are necessary. In generating imaging of our collection objects for our Selection Online, their do the job presents a window to the earth, illustrating the breadth and depth of the CMA’s earth-course collection. The studio performs carefully with our curatorial workers to help in scholarly investigation as perfectly as with our conservation office to enable their initiatives in collections treatment. They also create imaging to particularly greatly enhance our exhibitions.

Do you surprise exactly where we get all the incredible illustrations or photos of our earth-renowned assortment? The CMA photographers skillfully seize the ideal digital views of every artwork. Verify out the CMA’s Assortment On the web for a digital go to and see all your beloved artworks in magnificent element!

Remain tuned for long term posts from the Collections Administration staff!