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 at any time assumed about who cares for the remarkable assortment? With much more than 64,000 objects spanning practically 6,000 several years of artistic achievement, the CMA’s Collections Administration staff is effective hard each individual day to set up exhibitions, coordinate artwork shipments, comprehensive gallery rotations, photograph and doc the selection, and much more! But what precisely is collections management?

The collections administration department is manufactured up of various smaller sized teams, all specializing in diverse aspects of collections care. Generally, the division is made up of a collections manager, registrars, artwork handlers, photographers, and a packing specialist. With each other they are accountable for all areas of art movement and oversight — from going a single painting out of storage to shipping an entire exhibition across the planet!


There are many registrars doing work in the section, every single concentrating on a unique part of the task. The function of a registrar is predominantly coordinating data and retaining documents for the museum, as nicely as staying on the entrance line for any logistical factors regarding the works of art. As you can think about, this is a monumental undertaking and need to be divided among the numerous people.

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

Exhibition registrars deal with relations with other museums and loan companies when a particular exhibition is on look at at the museum, this sort of as Tales of the Metropolis: Drawing in the Netherlands from Bosch to Bruegel, Impressionism to Modernism: the Keithley Assortment, and the exhibitions at present on view in collaboration with Entrance Worldwide. Exhibition registrars coordinate each logistical depth of the procedure when the CMA borrows is effective of artwork from an additional establishment, non-public lender, or artist. The approach commences by aiding the curator of the exhibition with making formal requests to the opportunity financial institution and answering concerns that the lender could have when sending their home to the museum. Just after the formal personal loan requests are accredited and processed, the registrars start off to arrange transport arrangements so that the do the job of art comes safely and securely and on time for display screen. As soon as the artwork has arrived at the museum, the registrar oversees the total unpacking and greatest installation in the gallery or exhibition corridor. You can consider the complexity when typically far more than 100 objects are sent to the museum, from many museums and loan companies, for just 1 exhibition! Not to point out owning to keep inside of spending plan, aid couriers, and maintain a sharp eye on lawful specifications! Oh my!

The other side of the coin is registrar for loans, who arranges for the operates of artwork at the CMA to vacation the planet and introduce a variety of national and worldwide audiences to our awesome selection! The registrar for financial loans must receive suggestions and discipline worries from management, curators, and conservation professionals ahead of notifying one more institution no matter if its mortgage ask for has been approved. Our registrar for loans arranges and cares for the will work of art leaving the museum, functioning closely with our packing professional to make confident that every piece of art is secured throughout vacation.

All fingers on deck! It took 10 staff members users to pack Monet’s Water Lilies (Agapanthus) to travel on mortgage to Paris. This group features art handlers, registrars, a packing professional, and our colleagues from the conservation division. The perform is now on see at the Fondation Louis Vuitton’s Monet — Mitchell exhibition:

The registrar for acquisitions and prolonged-time period loans is responsible for artworks that are currently being regarded for or entering the collection. This registrar should connect with galleries and donors to carry these performs of art to the museum so that curators and conservation can examine the items additional carefully and present the works to the board of trustees throughout acquisition meetings. Must the museum make a decision to acquire a new operate of artwork, the registrar is then charged with coordinating the buy and completing all important paperwork, delivery arrangements, contract agreements, numbering, and at the rear of-the-scenes databases administration to bring the artwork to the museum for readers to get pleasure from!

Assistant Registrar Jacob Emmett applies an item variety to an artwork working with conservation-harmless methods. This quantity aids track the location of the artwork and is applied to pull up all connected data in our database that inbound links to Selection On the web.

Finally there is the selection manager and registrar, accountable for maintaining the lasting assortment that is always housed in the museum and stays both on perspective in our galleries or in storage. This registrar will work with management and curators to make sure that the galleries are often in top rated type and prepared to current to our website visitors. In addition to setting up work in the galleries, this registrar ought to care for and maintain the assortment structured as properly, building guaranteed that our art storage and collections care is constantly assembly and exceeding marketplace criteria for uncomplicated site, servicing, and entry to our incredible collection.

Art Handlers

The 6 art handlers working at the CMA are accountable for all artwork motion and gallery and exhibition installations at the museum. Each day the art handlers make the most of their merged awareness of resources, equipment, components, set up methods, and managing skills to be certain that the assortment is always safe and sound and accessible to readers when on perspective. When they’re not putting in in the galleries, the art handlers assist with delivering artwork to the pictures studio to be digitized for inclusion in Selection On the net, to the conservation lab for remedy, to the study rooms for curatorial and collection study, and far more. Verify out the Fulfill the Team part in our members journal, Cleveland Art, to read through far more about this workforce.

Users of the art managing team reinstall the Paul J. and Edith Ingalls Vignos gallery of British artwork (203A). Each individual installation demands thoughtful arranging and communication to guarantee every person moves together as 1 unit. This is especially important when hefty tools these kinds of as scissor lifts are applied.


The CMA is fortuitous to have an in-home packing specialist who is properly versed in the most existing packing solutions and elements required to safely ship artwork. Regardless of whether it’s for 3 miles down the highway by truck or 3,000 miles by air, every piece is assessed for personalized packing. We use only archival, shock-absorbent materials that cut down possible destruction triggered by motion, vibration, and off-gassing from other unstable packing components.


Images performs an integral function in the museum, not only for our possess reference and documentation but also for the community to be ready to access our amazing collection on our web-site from anywhere in the planet. The museum maintains a condition-of-the-art photographic studio able of handling the numerous new kinds of visualization afforded by the introduction of electronic and computational imaging. It is staffed by a few hugely skilled and proficient photographers with distinctive regions of know-how, and an office environment manager who handles scheduling and disseminating the studio’s photos in which they are wanted. In generating imaging of our collection objects for our Collection On the net, their get the job done presents a window to the world, illustrating the breadth and depth of the CMA’s earth-course collection. The studio will work intently with our curatorial staff to guide in scholarly research as well as with our conservation department to help their endeavours in collections treatment. They also create imaging to specially greatly enhance our exhibitions.

Do you speculate where we get all the remarkable visuals of our world-renowned collection? The CMA photographers skillfully seize the ideal electronic views of just about every artwork. Check out the CMA’s Collection On the net for a virtual check out and see all your favorite artworks in stunning element!

Keep tuned for long run posts from the Collections Administration workforce!

Mildred K. Pearson

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