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 Art, have you ever imagined about who cares for the extraordinary collection? With extra than 64,000 objects spanning approximately 6,000 a long time of inventive achievement, the CMA’s Collections Administration workforce is effective hard each and every working day to install exhibitions, coordinate artwork shipments, entire gallery rotations, photograph and doc the selection, and considerably a lot more! But what particularly is collections administration?

The collections administration office is made up of many more compact teams, all specializing in distinct aspects of collections care. Normally, the office is made up of a collections manager, registrars, artwork handlers, photographers, and a packing specialist. Alongside one another they are accountable for all elements of artwork movement and oversight — from shifting 1 painting out of storage to shipping an full exhibition across the planet!


There are several registrars working in the section, each and every concentrating on a unique aspect of the task. The work of a registrar is mostly coordinating information and keeping records for the museum, as well as becoming on the front line for any logistical features regarding the functions of artwork. As you can visualize, this is a monumental task and ought to be divided among the many people today.

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

Exhibition registrars take care of relations with other museums and loan companies when a exclusive 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 Collection, and the exhibitions presently on view in collaboration with Front Worldwide. Exhibition registrars coordinate each logistical element of the course of action when the CMA borrows is effective of art from a different institution, private financial institution, or artist. The course of action commences by aiding the curator of the exhibition with earning formal requests to the potential loan company and answering thoughts that the loan provider may have when sending their assets to the museum. Just after the official loan requests are authorised and processed, the registrars get started to manage shipping arrangements so that the do the job of art arrives safely and on time for display. Once the artwork has arrived at the museum, the registrar oversees the full unpacking and supreme set up in the gallery or exhibition corridor. You can think about the complexity when normally a lot more than 100 objects are sent to the museum, from lots of museums and lenders, for just one particular exhibition! Not to mention obtaining to stay within spending plan, help couriers, and keep a sharp eye on lawful specifications! Oh my!

The other facet of the coin is registrar for loans, who arranges for the works of artwork at the CMA to vacation the environment and introduce a variety of nationwide and worldwide audiences to our wonderful collection! The registrar for financial loans have to receive comments and industry considerations from leadership, curators, and conservation experts right before notifying one more institution irrespective of whether its personal loan ask for has been permitted. Our registrar for financial loans arranges and cares for the will work of artwork leaving the museum, working carefully with our packing specialist to make positive that every single piece of artwork is secured for the duration of vacation.

All hands on deck! It took 10 workers associates to pack Monet’s Drinking water Lilies (Agapanthus) to travel on personal loan to Paris. This group features art handlers, registrars, a packing expert, and our colleagues from the conservation section. The operate is now on look at at the Fondation Louis Vuitton’s Monet — Mitchell exhibition:

The registrar for acquisitions and prolonged-term loans is accountable for artworks that are currently being deemed for or entering the selection. This registrar will have to talk with galleries and donors to bring these performs of artwork to the museum so that curators and conservation can examine the items additional intently and existing the functions to the board of trustees all through acquisition conferences. Should the museum come to a decision to receive a new perform of artwork, the registrar is then charged with coordinating the invest in and completing all necessary paperwork, shipping and delivery arrangements, deal agreements, numbering, and guiding-the-scenes database management to convey the artwork to the museum for guests to delight in!

Assistant Registrar Jacob Emmett applies an item selection to an artwork employing conservation-harmless methods. This variety allows monitor the site of the artwork and is utilized to pull up all related facts in our database that back links to Assortment On the web.

At last there is the collection manager and registrar, responsible for maintaining the long term assortment that is generally housed in the museum and continues to be either on perspective in our galleries or in storage. This registrar will work with management and curators to make certain that the galleries are constantly in best kind and prepared to existing to our guests. In addition to putting in get the job done in the galleries, this registrar will have to treatment for and retain the selection arranged as well, making confident that our artwork storage and collections treatment is often assembly and exceeding sector expectations for simple locale, maintenance, and accessibility to our extraordinary assortment.

Artwork Handlers

The 6 artwork handlers doing work at the CMA are dependable for all artwork movement and gallery and exhibition installations at the museum. Every day the artwork handlers make the most of their merged understanding of applications, products, components, installation approaches, and managing techniques to make certain that the assortment is often harmless and accessible to site visitors when on see. When they are not putting in in the galleries, the artwork handlers help with providing artwork to the pictures studio to be digitized for inclusion in Assortment On-line, to the conservation lab for procedure, to the examine rooms for curatorial and selection analysis, and more. Verify out the Satisfy the Team portion in our customers journal, Cleveland Art, to go through extra about this workforce.

Members of the artwork dealing with group reinstall the Paul J. and Edith Ingalls Vignos gallery of British art (203A). Every set up demands considerate setting up and interaction to ensure all people moves together as one particular device. This is significantly crucial when heavy devices these kinds of as scissor lifts are used.


The CMA is privileged to have an in-dwelling packing specialist who is perfectly versed in the most current packing methods and resources required to properly ship artwork. No matter if it is for a few miles down the highway by truck or 3,000 miles by air, each and every piece is assessed for customized packing. We use only archival, shock-absorbent elements that decrease feasible destruction prompted by motion, vibration, and off-gassing from other unstable packing components.


Images performs an integral job in the museum, not only for our have reference and documentation but also for the public to be capable to access our extraordinary selection on our web page from any place in the environment. The museum maintains a state-of-the-art photographic studio capable of managing the several new forms of visualization afforded by the introduction of electronic and computational imaging. It is staffed by three highly experienced and gifted photographers with diverse spots of experience, and an workplace supervisor who handles scheduling and disseminating the studio’s images in which they are essential. In producing imaging of our assortment objects for our Assortment On the internet, their function supplies a window to the world, illustrating the breadth and depth of the CMA’s entire world-course selection. The studio functions intently with our curatorial employees to assist in scholarly exploration as well as with our conservation division to enable their attempts in collections care. They also create imaging to specifically greatly enhance our exhibitions.

Do you ponder where by we get all the astounding images of our entire world-renowned collection? The CMA photographers skillfully capture the most effective digital views of every single artwork. Check out the CMA’s Collection On the net for a digital go to and see all your beloved artworks in attractive depth!

Remain tuned for future posts from the Collections Management workforce!

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