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 visit the Cleveland Museum of Artwork, have you ever thought about who cares for the amazing collection? With the collection spanning approximately 6,000 decades of artistic accomplishment, the CMA’s Collections Management workforce will work difficult every day to put in exhibitions, coordinate art shipments, comprehensive gallery rotations, photograph and doc the selection, and much a lot more! But what specifically is collections management?

The collections management section is made up of a number of lesser groups, all specializing in unique features of collections treatment. Usually, the section is made up of a collections supervisor, registrars, artwork handlers, photographers, and a packing specialist. Collectively they are responsible for all areas of artwork movement and oversight — from transferring a single portray out of storage to delivery an full exhibition throughout the environment!


There are many registrars functioning in the department, each individual concentrating on a distinctive element of the job. The operate of a registrar is predominantly coordinating facts and holding documents for the museum, as well as getting on the entrance line for any logistical aspects regarding the works of art. As you can think about, this is a monumental task and have to be divided amid quite a few folks.

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

Exhibition registrars control relations with other museums and creditors when a specific exhibition is on watch at the museum, these kinds of as Tales of the City: Drawing in the Netherlands from Bosch to Bruegel, Impressionism to Modernism: the Keithley Selection, and the exhibitions at the moment on check out in collaboration with Entrance Global. Exhibition registrars coordinate every logistical detail of the approach when the CMA borrows functions of artwork from an additional establishment, personal loan company, or artist. The approach starts by assisting the curator of the exhibition with generating official requests to the prospective loan provider and answering thoughts that the loan provider may possibly have when sending their house to the museum. Just after the official bank loan requests are accredited and processed, the registrars commence to manage shipping and delivery preparations so that the work of artwork comes properly and on time for display. As soon as the artwork has arrived at the museum, the registrar oversees the entire unpacking and top installation in the gallery or exhibition corridor. You can consider the complexity when frequently additional than 100 objects are sent to the museum, from numerous museums and loan providers, for just 1 exhibition! Not to mention having to remain within just budget, support couriers, and retain a sharp eye on authorized needs! Oh my!

The other facet of the coin is registrar for financial loans, who arranges for the will work of artwork at the CMA to vacation the planet and introduce a variety of national and international audiences to our astounding assortment! The registrar for financial loans should acquire responses and industry considerations from leadership, curators, and conservation experts in advance of notifying one more institution whether or not its bank loan ask for has been permitted. Our registrar for loans arranges and cares for the performs of art leaving the museum, doing the job closely with our packing specialist to make sure that every piece of artwork is safeguarded during vacation.

All palms on deck! It took 10 employees members to pack Monet’s H2o Lilies (Agapanthus) to travel on loan to Paris. This group features artwork handlers, registrars, a packing professional, and our colleagues from the conservation department. The operate is now on see at the Fondation Louis Vuitton’s Monet — Mitchell exhibition:

The registrar for acquisitions and very long-term financial loans is dependable for artworks that are currently being regarded as for or moving into the selection. This registrar need to talk with galleries and donors to deliver these performs of art to the museum so that curators and conservation can study the pieces much more closely and existing the performs to the board of trustees through acquisition conferences. Need to the museum make a decision to receive a new function of artwork, the registrar is then billed with coordinating the purchase and completing all important paperwork, delivery preparations, deal agreements, numbering, and driving-the-scenes database management to bring the artwork to the museum for visitors to appreciate!

Assistant Registrar Jacob Emmett applies an object variety to an artwork working with conservation-harmless techniques. This range helps track the site of the artwork and is utilised to pull up all related details in our databases that inbound links to Selection On-line.

Lastly there is the assortment supervisor and registrar, liable for protecting the long term selection that is generally housed in the museum and stays either on look at in our galleries or in storage. This registrar functions with management and curators to assure that the galleries are constantly in top rated type and completely ready to current to our site visitors. In addition to installing function in the galleries, this registrar need to treatment for and keep the selection organized as nicely, producing certain that our art storage and collections care is generally conference and exceeding field requirements for easy place, servicing, and access to our amazing selection.

Artwork Handlers

The 6 artwork handlers doing the job at the CMA are liable for all art motion and gallery and exhibition installations at the museum. Every working day the art handlers employ their blended information of applications, products, components, set up methods, and managing expertise to ensure that the collection is always protected and accessible to people whilst on check out. When they’re not installing in the galleries, the artwork handlers help with providing artwork to the images studio to be digitized for inclusion in Assortment On the internet, to the conservation lab for treatment, to the research rooms for curatorial and assortment analysis, and a lot more. Test out the Meet up with the Workers segment in our associates journal, Cleveland Art, to study a lot more about this staff.

Customers of the artwork dealing with team reinstall the Paul J. and Edith Ingalls Vignos gallery of British artwork (203A). Just about every set up involves considerate scheduling and conversation to be certain everybody moves collectively as a single device. This is specifically vital when heavy machines these kinds of as scissor lifts are made use of.


The CMA is fortuitous to have an in-property packing specialist who is properly versed in the most present packing methods and products necessary to safely ship artwork. Whether it’s for three miles down the highway by truck or 3,000 miles by air, each individual piece is assessed for personalized packing. We use only archival, shock-absorbent products that lessen probable hurt prompted by motion, vibration, and off-gassing from other unstable packing materials.


Images plays an integral part in the museum, not only for our possess reference and documentation but also for the community to be equipped to accessibility our remarkable assortment on our website from everywhere in the entire world. The museum maintains a condition-of-the-art photographic studio able of dealing with the a lot of new varieties of visualization afforded by the introduction of electronic and computational imaging. It is staffed by three highly skilled and proficient photographers with diverse spots of abilities, and an workplace manager who handles scheduling and disseminating the studio’s photographs wherever they are required. In generating imaging of our collection objects for our Assortment On the web, their perform provides a window to the entire world, illustrating the breadth and depth of the CMA’s earth-course assortment. The studio is effective intently with our curatorial employees to aid in scholarly study as perfectly as with our conservation department to help their attempts in collections treatment. They also make imaging to specifically boost our exhibitions.

Do you speculate in which we get all the awesome photos of our globe-renowned selection? The CMA photographers skillfully seize the ideal electronic views of every single artwork. Check out the CMA’s Selection On the internet for a digital check out and see all your preferred artworks in stunning element!

Keep tuned for future posts from the Collections Administration group!