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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 go to the Cleveland Museum of Artwork, have you ever considered about who cares for the remarkable assortment? With more than 64,000 objects spanning just about 6,000 several years of artistic accomplishment, the CMA’s Collections Management crew performs challenging each working day to set up exhibitions, coordinate art shipments, comprehensive gallery rotations, photograph and document the assortment, and much more! But what precisely is collections administration?

The collections administration division is produced up of many more compact teams, all specializing in various elements of collections treatment. Frequently, the division consists of a collections manager, registrars, art handlers, photographers, and a packing expert. With each other they are responsible for all aspects of art movement and oversight — from shifting a single portray out of storage to shipping an full exhibition across the world!


There are quite a few registrars operating in the section, every single concentrating on a different aspect of the job. The function of a registrar is mostly coordinating info and maintaining records for the museum, as effectively as becoming on the front line for any logistical aspects with regards to the will work of artwork. As you can visualize, this is a monumental process and should be divided amid several persons.

At the CMA, there are 4 distinct varieties of registrars.

Exhibition registrars control relations with other museums and loan companies when a specific exhibition is on look at 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 look at in collaboration with Entrance International. Exhibition registrars coordinate each individual logistical depth of the procedure when the CMA borrows will work of artwork from a further institution, non-public lender, or artist. The system commences by aiding the curator of the exhibition with making formal requests to the potential financial institution and answering queries that the lender may well have when sending their home to the museum. Following the formal loan requests are authorized and processed, the registrars start out to manage shipping arrangements so that the work of artwork arrives safely and securely and on time for display. Once the artwork has arrived at the museum, the registrar oversees the complete unpacking and ultimate set up in the gallery or exhibition corridor. You can consider the complexity when frequently extra than 100 objects are despatched to the museum, from quite a few museums and loan providers, for just 1 exhibition! Not to point out possessing to stay in just finances, support couriers, and hold a sharp eye on authorized needs! Oh my!

The other aspect of the coin is registrar for loans, who arranges for the is effective of artwork at the CMA to travel the environment and introduce different nationwide and global audiences to our astounding selection! The registrar for financial loans have to acquire responses and subject worries from management, curators, and conservation specialists in advance of notifying a further institution irrespective of whether its financial loan request has been accepted. Our registrar for financial loans arranges and cares for the works of art leaving the museum, doing work closely with our packing professional to make sure that each and every piece of artwork is guarded during journey.

All palms on deck! It took 10 staff members associates to pack Monet’s Drinking water Lilies (Agapanthus) to travel on bank loan to Paris. This group includes artwork handlers, registrars, a packing expert, and our colleagues from the conservation division. The perform is now on check out at the Fondation Louis Vuitton’s Monet — Mitchell exhibition: https://www.fondationlouisvuitton.fr/en/occasions/claude-monet-joan-mitchell

The registrar for acquisitions and very long-term financial loans is liable for artworks that are getting deemed for or coming into the selection. This registrar need to converse with galleries and donors to carry these operates of art to the museum so that curators and conservation can look at the pieces more carefully and current the operates to the board of trustees for the duration of acquisition conferences. Should really the museum come to a decision to obtain a new operate of art, the registrar is then billed with coordinating the obtain and finishing all necessary paperwork, delivery arrangements, contract agreements, numbering, and at the rear of-the-scenes database management to carry the artwork to the museum for visitors to get pleasure from!

Assistant Registrar Jacob Emmett applies an item amount to an artwork working with conservation-safe methods. This selection allows observe the locale of the artwork and is utilized to pull up all linked facts in our databases that inbound links to Assortment On the internet.

Last but not least there is the collection manager and registrar, responsible for preserving the long term assortment that is usually housed in the museum and remains both on check out in our galleries or in storage. This registrar functions with management and curators to ensure that the galleries are normally in top type and all set to current to our website visitors. In addition to putting in operate in the galleries, this registrar will have to treatment for and continue to keep the collection arranged as effectively, building guaranteed that our art storage and collections care is usually meeting and exceeding marketplace requirements for easy spot, routine maintenance, and accessibility to our extraordinary collection.

Artwork Handlers

The 6 art handlers functioning at the CMA are accountable for all art movement and gallery and exhibition installations at the museum. Each and every day the art handlers use their merged understanding of applications, tools, components, set up tactics, and dealing with expertise to assure that the assortment is always secure and obtainable to visitors even though on check out. When they’re not installing in the galleries, the art handlers support with delivering artwork to the images studio to be digitized for inclusion in Assortment On the web, to the conservation lab for procedure, to the study rooms for curatorial and assortment study, and a lot more. Test out the Meet up with the Workers segment in our customers magazine, Cleveland Art, to read far more about this workforce.

Members of the art managing team reinstall the Paul J. and Edith Ingalls Vignos gallery of British art (203A). Every single installation requires thoughtful scheduling and communication to ensure absolutely everyone moves jointly as a single device. This is significantly significant when heavy equipment these types of as scissor lifts are utilised.


The CMA is privileged to have an in-residence packing expert who is well versed in the most present packing strategies and elements required to safely ship artwork. Whether or not it’s for a few miles down the street by truck or 3,000 miles by air, every single piece is assessed for custom packing. We use only archival, shock-absorbent materials that lessen possible damage prompted by motion, vibration, and off-gassing from other unstable packing elements.


Pictures plays an integral part in the museum, not only for our individual reference and documentation but also for the general public to be capable to accessibility our extraordinary selection on our web page from anyplace in the planet. The museum maintains a condition-of-the-artwork photographic studio able of handling the several new sorts of visualization afforded by the introduction of electronic and computational imaging. It is staffed by three remarkably seasoned and talented photographers with different locations of knowledge, and an workplace supervisor who handles scheduling and disseminating the studio’s illustrations or photos wherever they are wanted. In developing imaging of our selection objects for our Collection On the web, their perform presents a window to the globe, illustrating the breadth and depth of the CMA’s world-class collection. The studio performs intently with our curatorial employees to help in scholarly investigation as very well as with our conservation office to assist their endeavours in collections treatment. They also develop imaging to exclusively enrich our exhibitions.

Do you wonder wherever we get all the awesome illustrations or photos of our earth-renowned collection? The CMA photographers skillfully capture the ideal digital views of each individual artwork. Check out out the CMA’s Selection On line for a digital stop by and see all your preferred artworks in stunning element!

Stay tuned for upcoming posts from the Collections Management staff!