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 check out the Cleveland Museum of Art, have you ever considered about who cares for the remarkable collection? With the selection spanning just about 6,000 a long time of creative achievement, the CMA’s Collections Administration staff operates difficult just about every day to install exhibitions, coordinate art shipments, entire gallery rotations, photograph and doc the assortment, and substantially extra! But what accurately is collections management?

The collections administration section is produced up of several smaller groups, all specializing in distinctive factors of collections care. Commonly, the office is made up of a collections supervisor, registrars, artwork handlers, photographers, and a packing professional. Together they are responsible for all features of artwork movement and oversight — from relocating just one portray out of storage to shipping and delivery an overall exhibition throughout the entire world!


There are many registrars working in the department, each concentrating on a distinctive element of the job. The do the job of a registrar is generally coordinating information and facts and holding records for the museum, as properly as being on the front line for any logistical elements relating to the operates of art. As you can imagine, this is a monumental job and must be divided among many men and women.

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

Exhibition registrars take care of relations with other museums and loan companies when a particular exhibition is on check out at the museum, this kind of as Tales of the Town: Drawing in the Netherlands from Bosch to Bruegel, Impressionism to Modernism: the Keithley Collection, and the exhibitions at present on see in collaboration with Entrance Global. Exhibition registrars coordinate every single logistical element of the process when the CMA borrows will work of art from one more institution, personal lender, or artist. The system commences by aiding the curator of the exhibition with generating official requests to the likely loan provider and answering concerns that the loan company may have when sending their residence to the museum. Soon after the official mortgage requests are approved and processed, the registrars start to arrange delivery preparations so that the get the job done of art comes properly and on time for display screen. When the artwork has arrived at the museum, the registrar oversees the whole unpacking and final set up in the gallery or exhibition hall. You can visualize the complexity when usually extra than 100 objects are sent to the museum, from lots of museums and loan companies, for just one exhibition! Not to mention owning to remain inside of budget, guide couriers, and maintain a sharp eye on legal prerequisites! Oh my!

The other facet of the coin is registrar for financial loans, who arranges for the operates of artwork at the CMA to vacation the world and introduce several nationwide and global audiences to our incredible selection! The registrar for financial loans have to get suggestions and discipline fears from leadership, curators, and conservation specialists in advance of notifying an additional establishment no matter if its mortgage ask for has been permitted. Our registrar for financial loans arranges and cares for the works of artwork leaving the museum, operating intently with our packing professional to make sure that each and every piece of art is shielded throughout journey.

All fingers on deck! It took 10 employees associates to pack Monet’s H2o Lilies (Agapanthus) to vacation on loan to Paris. This team incorporates art handlers, registrars, a packing professional, and our colleagues from the conservation office. The do the job is now on view at the Fondation Louis Vuitton’s Monet — Mitchell exhibition:

The registrar for acquisitions and prolonged-time period financial loans is accountable for artworks that are staying regarded for or coming into the collection. This registrar need to communicate with galleries and donors to deliver these performs of art to the museum so that curators and conservation can take a look at the pieces extra intently and existing the works to the board of trustees during acquisition meetings. Ought to the museum make a decision to get a new function of art, the registrar is then charged with coordinating the order and finishing all needed paperwork, shipping and delivery arrangements, agreement agreements, numbering, and at the rear of-the-scenes database administration to bring the art to the museum for readers to get pleasure from!

Assistant Registrar Jacob Emmett applies an object selection to an artwork applying conservation-protected methods. This selection can help observe the spot of the artwork and is used to pull up all related information and facts in our databases that links to Selection On the internet.

Last but not least there is the selection supervisor and registrar, responsible for keeping the long-lasting assortment that is usually housed in the museum and continues to be either on view in our galleries or in storage. This registrar is effective with leadership and curators to guarantee that the galleries are usually in top form and all set to current to our people. In addition to setting up do the job in the galleries, this registrar should treatment for and preserve the selection organized as properly, creating certain that our art storage and collections care is normally meeting and exceeding market standards for straightforward area, routine maintenance, and access to our extraordinary collection.

Art Handlers

The six artwork handlers doing the job at the CMA are accountable for all art motion and gallery and exhibition installations at the museum. Each individual working day the art handlers make the most of their merged information of instruments, tools, components, set up procedures, and managing skills to make certain that the selection is generally harmless and obtainable to site visitors even though on perspective. When they’re not installing in the galleries, the art handlers guide with delivering artwork to the images studio to be digitized for inclusion in Selection On the internet, to the conservation lab for cure, to the study rooms for curatorial and collection analysis, and additional. Verify out the Satisfy the Staff section in our members journal, Cleveland Artwork, to examine a lot more about this workforce.

Associates of the art managing group reinstall the Paul J. and Edith Ingalls Vignos gallery of British artwork (203A). Every set up needs considerate setting up and interaction to ensure everyone moves alongside one another as 1 device. This is specially essential when hefty tools such as scissor lifts are made use of.


The CMA is fortunate to have an in-residence packing expert who is very well versed in the most current packing approaches and materials demanded to securely ship artwork. No matter if it is for 3 miles down the street by truck or 3,000 miles by air, each individual piece is assessed for custom made packing. We use only archival, shock-absorbent products that decrease probable problems triggered by motion, vibration, and off-gassing from other unstable packing products.


Images plays an integral purpose in the museum, not only for our possess reference and documentation but also for the public to be equipped to accessibility our incredible selection on our site from anyplace in the world. The museum maintains a point out-of-the-art photographic studio capable of handling the a lot of new sorts of visualization afforded by the introduction of electronic and computational imaging. It is staffed by three remarkably expert and talented photographers with distinct regions of skills, and an business office manager who handles scheduling and disseminating the studio’s illustrations or photos where they are wanted. In making imaging of our assortment objects for our Assortment On line, their work delivers a window to the entire world, illustrating the breadth and depth of the CMA’s world-course collection. The studio works carefully with our curatorial team to help in scholarly investigation as well as with our conservation division to aid their efforts in collections care. They also deliver imaging to specifically enrich our exhibitions.

Do you surprise wherever we get all the wonderful photos of our world-renowned collection? The CMA photographers skillfully seize the ideal electronic views of every single artwork. Examine out the CMA’s Collection On line for a virtual visit and see all your favored artworks in beautiful element!

Stay tuned for long run posts from the Collections Management staff!