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 take a look at the Cleveland Museum of Art, have you at any time thought about who cares for the remarkable selection? With the collection spanning almost 6,000 a long time of inventive accomplishment, the CMA’s Collections Management staff functions tricky each and every working day to install exhibitions, coordinate artwork shipments, entire gallery rotations, photograph and doc the collection, and a lot extra! But what precisely is collections management?

The collections management department is created up of several more compact groups, all specializing in different factors of collections care. Normally, the department is composed of a collections manager, registrars, art handlers, photographers, and a packing professional. Jointly they are accountable for all factors of art motion and oversight — from transferring a person painting out of storage to shipping an complete exhibition across the environment!


There are a number of registrars doing the job in the division, each and every concentrating on a diverse factor of the occupation. The function of a registrar is generally coordinating data and keeping records for the museum, as properly as being on the entrance line for any logistical elements regarding the will work of artwork. As you can visualize, this is a monumental process and must be divided amid many folks.

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

Exhibition registrars control relations with other museums and loan companies when a specific exhibition is on perspective at the museum, these kinds of as Tales of the Town: Drawing in the Netherlands from Bosch to Bruegel, Impressionism to Modernism: the Keithley Selection, and the exhibitions currently on watch in collaboration with Front International. Exhibition registrars coordinate just about every logistical detail of the course of action when the CMA borrows functions of art from a different establishment, non-public loan provider, or artist. The approach begins by helping the curator of the exhibition with making formal requests to the opportunity financial institution and answering concerns that the loan company may well have when sending their home to the museum. Soon after the official bank loan requests are authorised and processed, the registrars begin to manage transport preparations so that the get the job done of art arrives securely and on time for screen. At the time the artwork has arrived at the museum, the registrar oversees the total unpacking and final installation in the gallery or exhibition hall. You can imagine the complexity when frequently a lot more than 100 objects are sent to the museum, from quite a few museums and loan companies, for just a single exhibition! Not to mention obtaining to stay within finances, aid couriers, and continue to keep a sharp eye on legal specifications! Oh my!

The other side of the coin is registrar for loans, who arranges for the functions of art at the CMA to journey the globe and introduce several nationwide and global audiences to our incredible assortment! The registrar for financial loans need to get comments and discipline worries from leadership, curators, and conservation specialists before notifying another institution no matter if its financial loan request has been permitted. Our registrar for financial loans arranges and cares for the will work of art leaving the museum, doing the job intently with our packing expert to make absolutely sure that every piece of artwork is safeguarded through travel.

All arms on deck! It took 10 employees users to pack Monet’s Water Lilies (Agapanthus) to journey on financial loan to Paris. This team features artwork handlers, registrars, a packing expert, and our colleagues from the conservation division. The operate is now on perspective at the Fondation Louis Vuitton’s Monet — Mitchell exhibition:

The registrar for acquisitions and extensive-time period financial loans is responsible for artworks that are remaining thought of for or moving into the collection. This registrar should talk with galleries and donors to convey these is effective of art to the museum so that curators and conservation can take a look at the parts extra intently and current the is effective to the board of trustees all through acquisition meetings. Really should the museum determine to obtain a new perform of art, the registrar is then billed with coordinating the buy and completing all essential paperwork, transport preparations, agreement agreements, numbering, and at the rear of-the-scenes databases administration to deliver the artwork to the museum for website visitors to take pleasure in!

Assistant Registrar Jacob Emmett applies an object variety to an artwork employing conservation-secure strategies. This amount allows keep track of the locale of the artwork and is utilized to pull up all affiliated information and facts in our database that back links to Selection On line.

Eventually there is the assortment manager and registrar, dependable for preserving the long term selection that is often housed in the museum and continues to be both on check out in our galleries or in storage. This registrar functions with management and curators to make certain that the galleries are always in top sort and all set to current to our readers. In addition to putting in perform in the galleries, this registrar will have to treatment for and hold the assortment arranged as perfectly, earning confident that our artwork storage and collections care is constantly meeting and exceeding sector requirements for quick place, upkeep, and entry to our remarkable selection.

Artwork Handlers

The 6 artwork handlers doing work at the CMA are responsible for all artwork motion and gallery and exhibition installations at the museum. Each day the art handlers utilize their put together know-how of instruments, gear, components, installation tactics, and managing skills to make certain that the collection is usually secure and obtainable to guests when on check out. When they are not setting up in the galleries, the art handlers help with providing artwork to the photography studio to be digitized for inclusion in Collection On-line, to the conservation lab for treatment method, to the examine rooms for curatorial and selection analysis, and additional. Check out the Satisfy the Team portion in our customers journal, Cleveland Artwork, to study additional about this group.

Associates of the art managing crew reinstall the Paul J. and Edith Ingalls Vignos gallery of British art (203A). Every single installation requires considerate arranging and conversation to be certain everybody moves alongside one another as one particular unit. This is especially vital when heavy machines these as scissor lifts are applied.


The CMA is fortunate to have an in-dwelling packing specialist who is properly versed in the most existing packing approaches and elements demanded to securely ship artwork. Irrespective of whether it’s for 3 miles down the road by truck or 3,000 miles by air, just about every piece is assessed for tailor made packing. We use only archival, shock-absorbent elements that lower probable harm prompted by movement, vibration, and off-gassing from other unstable packing supplies.


Images performs an integral purpose in the museum, not only for our possess reference and documentation but also for the general public to be ready to obtain our amazing collection on our internet site from wherever in the environment. The museum maintains a point out-of-the-art photographic studio able of handling the a lot of new varieties of visualization afforded by the arrival of electronic and computational imaging. It is staffed by three really knowledgeable and talented photographers with different spots of know-how, and an place of work supervisor who handles scheduling and disseminating the studio’s images in which they are required. In developing imaging of our selection objects for our Assortment On the net, their work provides a window to the environment, illustrating the breadth and depth of the CMA’s globe-class assortment. The studio works carefully with our curatorial staff to help in scholarly research as effectively as with our conservation department to help their efforts in collections care. They also develop imaging to particularly improve our exhibitions.

Do you question exactly where we get all the wonderful photos of our world-renowned selection? The CMA photographers skillfully capture the greatest digital views of each and every artwork. Test out the CMA’s Selection On the internet for a virtual stop by and see all your preferred artworks in stunning depth!

Continue to be tuned for upcoming posts from the Collections Management group!

Leave a Reply