Component Parts of Collections Management: Who’s Who? | by Cleveland Museum of Art | CMA Thinker | Oct, 2022

By Sydney Slacas, Assistant Registrar

When you check out the Cleveland Museum of Artwork, have you ever considered about who cares for the extraordinary selection? With the selection spanning practically 6,000 many years of inventive achievement, the CMA’s Collections Administration staff operates tough each and every day to set up exhibitions, coordinate artwork shipments, complete gallery rotations, photograph and doc the assortment, and substantially extra! But what just is collections management?

The collections administration division is produced up of several more compact teams, all specializing in diverse features of collections care. Normally, the division consists of a collections manager, registrars, art handlers, photographers, and a packing expert. Together they are liable for all elements of art motion and oversight — from transferring one portray out of storage to transport an total exhibition across the earth!


There are many registrars operating in the office, each individual concentrating on a different aspect of the task. The get the job done of a registrar is mainly coordinating facts and trying to keep documents for the museum, as nicely as currently being on the entrance line for any logistical features with regards to the performs of art. As you can picture, this is a monumental activity and ought to be divided among a number of individuals.

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

Exhibition registrars regulate relations with other museums and loan providers when a distinctive exhibition is on look at at the museum, this kind of as Tales of the Metropolis: Drawing in the Netherlands from Bosch to Bruegel, Impressionism to Modernism: the Keithley Assortment, and the exhibitions at this time on perspective in collaboration with Entrance Worldwide. Exhibition registrars coordinate just about every logistical depth of the method when the CMA borrows operates of artwork from another establishment, personal lender, or artist. The course of action starts by assisting the curator of the exhibition with generating official requests to the probable lender and answering inquiries that the loan company could possibly have when sending their house to the museum. Just after the official personal loan requests are authorised and processed, the registrars get started to organize shipping and delivery preparations so that the do the job of art arrives properly and on time for display. After the artwork has arrived at the museum, the registrar oversees the complete unpacking and ultimate installation in the gallery or exhibition hall. You can imagine the complexity when often far more than 100 objects are sent to the museum, from lots of museums and creditors, for just 1 exhibition! Not to point out obtaining to keep inside spending budget, support couriers, and continue to keep a sharp eye on authorized necessities! Oh my!

The other side of the coin is registrar for loans, who arranges for the functions of artwork at the CMA to vacation the planet and introduce different countrywide and international audiences to our remarkable assortment! The registrar for financial loans should obtain responses and area problems from management, curators, and conservation professionals right before notifying another establishment regardless of whether its loan ask for has been authorised. Our registrar for loans arranges and cares for the is effective of artwork leaving the museum, working closely with our packing expert to make certain that each piece of art is shielded during vacation.

All hands on deck! It took 10 team associates to pack Monet’s Water Lilies (Agapanthus) to vacation on personal loan to Paris. This group involves artwork handlers, registrars, a packing specialist, and our colleagues from the conservation department. The operate is now on perspective at the Fondation Louis Vuitton’s Monet — Mitchell exhibition:

The registrar for acquisitions and prolonged-term loans is dependable for artworks that are being regarded as for or moving into the assortment. This registrar should communicate with galleries and donors to deliver these is effective of art to the museum so that curators and conservation can analyze the items extra carefully and existing the operates to the board of trustees throughout acquisition meetings. Ought to the museum make your mind up to purchase a new get the job done of art, the registrar is then billed with coordinating the buy and finishing all needed paperwork, shipping and delivery preparations, contract agreements, numbering, and driving-the-scenes database management to carry the art to the museum for people to appreciate!

Assistant Registrar Jacob Emmett applies an object variety to an artwork working with conservation-safe methods. This selection will help keep track of the spot of the artwork and is used to pull up all connected info in our databases that hyperlinks to Collection On the web.

Last but not least there is the selection supervisor and registrar, liable for retaining the long lasting assortment that is always housed in the museum and remains either on view in our galleries or in storage. This registrar functions with leadership and curators to be certain that the galleries are usually in major kind and prepared to existing to our website visitors. In addition to putting in operate in the galleries, this registrar should care for and hold the collection organized as properly, generating guaranteed that our art storage and collections treatment is constantly conference and exceeding marketplace specifications for simple location, upkeep, and accessibility to our incredible assortment.

Artwork Handlers

The 6 art handlers operating at the CMA are liable for all art movement and gallery and exhibition installations at the museum. Each and every working day the art handlers use their put together knowledge of instruments, machines, components, installation approaches, and managing skills to ensure that the selection is normally safe and sound and accessible to site visitors while on watch. When they are not installing in the galleries, the art handlers assist with providing artwork to the photography studio to be digitized for inclusion in Collection On the net, to the conservation lab for treatment method, to the analyze rooms for curatorial and selection exploration, and much more. Test out the Satisfy the Staff members area in our customers magazine, Cleveland Artwork, to read through a lot more about this crew.

Associates of the artwork managing team reinstall the Paul J. and Edith Ingalls Vignos gallery of British artwork (203A). Every installation needs considerate arranging and communication to be certain anyone moves alongside one another as one unit. This is specifically important when weighty equipment this kind of as scissor lifts are utilised.


The CMA is fortunate to have an in-dwelling packing professional who is well versed in the most existing packing methods and materials essential to safely and securely ship artwork. Irrespective of whether it’s for a few miles down the street by truck or 3,000 miles by air, each individual piece is assessed for tailor made packing. We use only archival, shock-absorbent supplies that lessen possible hurt triggered by movement, vibration, and off-gassing from other unstable packing supplies.


Images performs an integral function in the museum, not only for our very own reference and documentation but also for the public to be ready to access our amazing collection on our site from anyplace in the planet. The museum maintains a state-of-the-art photographic studio able of handling the several new forms of visualization afforded by the arrival of electronic and computational imaging. It is staffed by three highly knowledgeable and talented photographers with diverse parts of know-how, and an office environment manager who handles scheduling and disseminating the studio’s illustrations or photos where they are necessary. In creating imaging of our selection objects for our Assortment On the internet, their function presents a window to the earth, illustrating the breadth and depth of the CMA’s entire world-class assortment. The studio functions carefully with our curatorial team to help in scholarly study as effectively as with our conservation division to assist their initiatives in collections treatment. They also deliver imaging to exclusively improve our exhibitions.

Do you question wherever we get all the amazing pictures of our earth-renowned collection? The CMA photographers skillfully capture the greatest electronic sights of each and every artwork. Test out the CMA’s Selection Online for a virtual go to and see all your beloved artworks in beautiful element!

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

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