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 at any time believed about who cares for the extraordinary assortment? With much more than 64,000 objects spanning virtually 6,000 a long time of inventive accomplishment, the CMA’s Collections Administration workforce is effective tough just about every day to put in exhibitions, coordinate art shipments, entire gallery rotations, photograph and doc the collection, and considerably additional! But what particularly is collections management?

The collections administration office is manufactured up of numerous lesser teams, all specializing in distinct elements of collections care. Usually, the section is composed of a collections supervisor, registrars, art handlers, photographers, and a packing specialist. Together they are responsible for all elements of art motion and oversight — from moving just one painting out of storage to shipping and delivery an complete exhibition throughout the globe!


There are numerous registrars doing the job in the section, each and every concentrating on a various aspect of the task. The perform of a registrar is generally coordinating information and facts and holding records for the museum, as perfectly as staying on the front line for any logistical areas with regards to the works of art. As you can envision, this is a monumental activity and ought to be divided amid a number of individuals.

At the CMA, there are 4 unique types of registrars.

Exhibition registrars regulate relations with other museums and loan providers when a distinctive 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 now on look at in collaboration with Front Global. Exhibition registrars coordinate each logistical depth of the course of action when the CMA borrows is effective of art from a further institution, private loan company, or artist. The system commences by assisting the curator of the exhibition with building formal requests to the probable loan provider and answering thoughts that the loan provider might have when sending their assets to the museum. Soon after the official loan requests are authorized and processed, the registrars start out to manage shipping and delivery preparations so that the operate of art arrives safely and on time for exhibit. When the artwork has arrived at the museum, the registrar oversees the entire unpacking and final installation in the gallery or exhibition corridor. You can consider the complexity when frequently a lot more than 100 objects are despatched to the museum, from several museums and loan providers, for just a single exhibition! Not to mention acquiring to continue to be in budget, guide couriers, and maintain a sharp eye on authorized necessities! Oh my!

The other side of the coin is registrar for loans, who arranges for the operates of artwork at the CMA to travel the world and introduce many national and worldwide audiences to our remarkable collection! The registrar for loans should get feedback and subject problems from leadership, curators, and conservation experts right before notifying a different institution whether or not its loan request has been authorized. Our registrar for loans arranges and cares for the will work of art leaving the museum, doing the job intently with our packing professional to make guaranteed that each piece of art is safeguarded through vacation.

All hands on deck! It took 10 staff users to pack Monet’s Water Lilies (Agapanthus) to vacation on mortgage to Paris. This team involves art handlers, registrars, a packing professional, 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 extensive-term loans is dependable for artworks that are currently being regarded as for or entering the collection. This registrar need to communicate with galleries and donors to provide these will work of art to the museum so that curators and conservation can examine the pieces a lot more carefully and present the performs to the board of trustees throughout acquisition meetings. Should the museum come to a decision to purchase a new do the job of art, the registrar is then billed with coordinating the invest in and finishing all necessary paperwork, shipping preparations, deal agreements, numbering, and behind-the-scenes database management to carry the artwork to the museum for readers to take pleasure in!

Assistant Registrar Jacob Emmett applies an item amount to an artwork using conservation-harmless solutions. This variety will help keep track of the locale of the artwork and is used to pull up all affiliated data in our database that links to Assortment On the net.

Ultimately there is the collection manager and registrar, liable for retaining the long lasting collection that is constantly housed in the museum and stays both on see in our galleries or in storage. This registrar operates with management and curators to be certain that the galleries are often in best type and ready to existing to our readers. In addition to setting up function in the galleries, this registrar must care for and hold the selection organized as very well, earning absolutely sure that our art storage and collections care is usually conference and exceeding marketplace criteria for straightforward site, upkeep, and accessibility to our amazing assortment.

Art Handlers

The 6 art handlers operating at the CMA are accountable for all art movement and gallery and exhibition installations at the museum. Every working day the artwork handlers benefit from their mixed understanding of equipment, equipment, hardware, set up methods, and handling abilities to make certain that the assortment is always risk-free and accessible to website visitors while on watch. When they’re not setting up in the galleries, the artwork handlers guide with offering artwork to the pictures studio to be digitized for inclusion in Assortment On the web, to the conservation lab for remedy, to the study rooms for curatorial and selection analysis, and much more. Check out the Satisfy the Team part in our users magazine, Cleveland Artwork, to study extra about this workforce.

Associates of the artwork managing crew reinstall the Paul J. and Edith Ingalls Vignos gallery of British art (203A). Each and every installation involves thoughtful setting up and communication to ensure absolutely everyone moves alongside one another as 1 unit. This is especially important when major equipment these kinds of as scissor lifts are made use of.


The CMA is lucky to have an in-house packing professional who is perfectly versed in the most recent packing techniques and materials necessary to safely and securely ship artwork. Whether it is for 3 miles down the street by truck or 3,000 miles by air, every piece is assessed for personalized packing. We use only archival, shock-absorbent elements that decrease feasible destruction brought about by movement, vibration, and off-gassing from other unstable packing resources.


Photography performs an integral role in the museum, not only for our possess reference and documentation but also for the public to be ready to entry our remarkable selection on our web site from wherever in the world. The museum maintains a point out-of-the-art photographic studio capable of dealing with the a lot of new varieties of visualization afforded by the advent of electronic and computational imaging. It is staffed by a few remarkably seasoned and proficient photographers with various areas of knowledge, and an business office supervisor who handles scheduling and disseminating the studio’s pictures where by they are wanted. In manufacturing imaging of our assortment objects for our Selection On line, their function offers a window to the entire world, illustrating the breadth and depth of the CMA’s planet-course collection. The studio is effective intently with our curatorial team to guide in scholarly investigation as very well as with our conservation section to assistance their endeavours in collections treatment. They also create imaging to exclusively greatly enhance our exhibitions.

Do you surprise where we get all the astounding photographs of our planet-renowned assortment? The CMA photographers skillfully seize the ideal electronic views of just about every artwork. Check out the CMA’s Collection On the web for a digital visit and see all your favourite artworks in magnificent element!

Continue to be tuned for future posts from the Collections Management staff!

By Harmony