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 check out the Cleveland Museum of Art, have you ever assumed about who cares for the extraordinary collection? With far more than 64,000 objects spanning just about 6,000 years of creative achievement, the CMA’s Collections Management group is effective tricky just about every day to set up exhibitions, coordinate art shipments, entire gallery rotations, photograph and document the assortment, and a lot far more! But what exactly is collections management?

The collections administration section is built up of many lesser teams, all specializing in diverse aspects of collections care. Typically, the section is made up of a collections supervisor, registrars, art handlers, photographers, and a packing professional. Together they are accountable for all features of artwork motion and oversight — from relocating just one painting out of storage to transport an whole exhibition across the world!


There are several registrars doing the job in the office, just about every concentrating on a distinctive component of the work. The operate of a registrar is primarily coordinating data and maintaining records for the museum, as effectively as getting on the entrance line for any logistical areas with regards to the is effective of art. As you can picture, this is a monumental endeavor and ought to be divided between many men and women.

At the CMA, there are 4 different sorts of registrars.

Exhibition registrars take care of relations with other museums and lenders when a particular exhibition is on see at the museum, such as Tales of the Town: Drawing in the Netherlands from Bosch to Bruegel, Impressionism to Modernism: the Keithley Collection, and the exhibitions now on see in collaboration with Front International. Exhibition registrars coordinate every single logistical depth of the approach when the CMA borrows is effective of art from a further institution, personal loan provider, or artist. The system begins by assisting the curator of the exhibition with earning formal requests to the prospective loan provider and answering thoughts that the loan company may have when sending their residence to the museum. Following the official personal loan requests are accepted and processed, the registrars start out to arrange shipping preparations so that the work of art comes properly and on time for exhibit. The moment the artwork has arrived at the museum, the registrar oversees the complete unpacking and greatest installation in the gallery or exhibition hall. You can visualize the complexity when typically far more than 100 objects are sent to the museum, from several museums and loan companies, for just 1 exhibition! Not to mention owning to continue to be inside spending budget, support couriers, and continue to keep a sharp eye on authorized necessities! Oh my!

The other facet of the coin is registrar for loans, who arranges for the is effective of artwork at the CMA to vacation the world and introduce several countrywide and intercontinental audiences to our awesome selection! The registrar for loans will have to obtain feed-back and discipline concerns from management, curators, and conservation specialists before notifying yet another establishment whether its financial loan request has been accepted. Our registrar for financial loans arranges and cares for the functions of artwork leaving the museum, performing closely with our packing professional to make absolutely sure that each and every piece of art is secured for the duration of journey.

All hands on deck! It took 10 staff associates to pack Monet’s H2o Lilies (Agapanthus) to vacation on mortgage to Paris. This group includes artwork handlers, registrars, a packing expert, and our colleagues from the conservation department. The operate is now on watch at the Fondation Louis Vuitton’s Monet — Mitchell exhibition:

The registrar for acquisitions and prolonged-expression financial loans is responsible for artworks that are getting regarded as for or coming into the collection. This registrar will have to converse with galleries and donors to deliver these functions of art to the museum so that curators and conservation can take a look at the items more intently and existing the works to the board of trustees for the duration of acquisition meetings. Really should the museum choose to get a new get the job done of art, the registrar is then billed with coordinating the buy and finishing all vital paperwork, shipping and delivery arrangements, deal agreements, numbering, and powering-the-scenes database administration to convey the art to the museum for people to enjoy!

Assistant Registrar Jacob Emmett applies an item number to an artwork using conservation-protected techniques. This range allows track the location of the artwork and is utilised to pull up all involved details in our databases that one-way links to Selection On line.

Lastly there is the collection manager and registrar, dependable for retaining the long lasting selection that is normally housed in the museum and remains either on watch in our galleries or in storage. This registrar performs with leadership and curators to make certain that the galleries are constantly in best kind and ready to current to our visitors. In addition to installing get the job done in the galleries, this registrar should treatment for and hold the collection organized as nicely, producing absolutely sure that our artwork storage and collections treatment is normally assembly and exceeding industry specifications for uncomplicated area, routine maintenance, and entry to our extraordinary assortment.

Art Handlers

The six artwork handlers doing work at the CMA are responsible for all artwork motion and gallery and exhibition installations at the museum. Each and every day the artwork handlers make use of their combined understanding of tools, devices, components, installation tactics, and dealing with competencies to be certain that the selection is often secure and accessible to site visitors when on see. When they’re not putting in 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 procedure, to the analyze rooms for curatorial and collection analysis, and much more. Check out the Meet up with the Staff section in our users journal, Cleveland Art, to browse more about this team.

Associates of the art handling crew reinstall the Paul J. and Edith Ingalls Vignos gallery of British art (203A). Every set up calls for considerate planning and interaction to ensure every person moves together as 1 device. This is especially vital when hefty tools this kind of as scissor lifts are applied.


The CMA is privileged to have an in-home packing expert who is perfectly versed in the most latest packing methods and resources expected to safely and securely ship artwork. Irrespective of whether it is for three miles down the street by truck or 3,000 miles by air, each individual piece is assessed for personalized packing. We use only archival, shock-absorbent resources that decrease doable destruction prompted by motion, vibration, and off-gassing from other unstable packing resources.


Images plays an integral position in the museum, not only for our very own reference and documentation but also for the public to be able to access our amazing collection on our website from any place in the entire world. The museum maintains a state-of-the-art photographic studio able of handling the quite a few new sorts of visualization afforded by the introduction of electronic and computational imaging. It is staffed by three highly experienced and gifted photographers with diverse parts of know-how, and an workplace manager who handles scheduling and disseminating the studio’s illustrations or photos in which they are needed. In making imaging of our assortment objects for our Collection Online, their do the job offers a window to the environment, illustrating the breadth and depth of the CMA’s planet-class collection. The studio functions closely with our curatorial personnel to help in scholarly exploration as very well as with our conservation department to assistance their efforts in collections care. They also make imaging to especially increase our exhibitions.

Do you question in which we get all the astounding images of our entire world-renowned assortment? The CMA photographers skillfully seize the finest electronic views of each individual artwork. Verify out the CMA’s Collection On the net for a digital check out and see all your favorite artworks in beautiful detail!

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