March 5, 2024


Arts Fanatics

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 amazing collection? With the selection spanning approximately 6,000 decades of inventive accomplishment, the CMA’s Collections Management team operates hard each day to put in exhibitions, coordinate art shipments, finish gallery rotations, photograph and document the selection, and much far more! But what exactly is collections management?

The collections administration division is designed up of various smaller sized groups, all specializing in distinct features of collections treatment. Generally, the section consists of a collections manager, registrars, art handlers, photographers, and a packing specialist. With each other they are responsible for all factors of artwork motion and oversight — from transferring one painting out of storage to transport an entire exhibition across the world!


There are a number of registrars doing the job in the department, each individual focusing on a distinct factor of the task. The work of a registrar is mainly coordinating facts and holding documents for the museum, as perfectly as staying on the front line for any logistical features relating to the will work of artwork. As you can picture, this is a monumental endeavor and need to be divided among the quite a few persons.

At the CMA, there are four diverse forms of registrars.

Exhibition registrars handle relations with other museums and lenders when a unique exhibition is on perspective at the museum, these as Tales of the Town: Drawing in the Netherlands from Bosch to Bruegel, Impressionism to Modernism: the Keithley Collection, and the exhibitions at the moment on look at in collaboration with Front Intercontinental. Exhibition registrars coordinate each individual logistical detail of the procedure when the CMA borrows functions of art from a different institution, non-public lender, or artist. The system begins by helping the curator of the exhibition with creating formal requests to the opportunity financial institution and answering queries that the lender may possibly have when sending their residence to the museum. Immediately after the official loan requests are accredited and processed, the registrars start to organize transport preparations so that the function of art arrives properly and on time for screen. As soon as the artwork has arrived at the museum, the registrar oversees the overall unpacking and final set up in the gallery or exhibition hall. You can imagine the complexity when normally a lot more than 100 objects are sent to the museum, from quite a few museums and loan companies, for just just one exhibition! Not to point out possessing to keep in spending budget, assist couriers, and preserve a sharp eye on lawful prerequisites! Oh my!

The other side of the coin is registrar for loans, who arranges for the works of art at the CMA to journey the globe and introduce many nationwide and international audiences to our awesome selection! The registrar for financial loans need to acquire feed-back and industry problems from management, curators, and conservation specialists right before notifying yet another establishment no matter whether its loan ask for has been approved. Our registrar for financial loans arranges and cares for the is effective of artwork leaving the museum, working carefully with our packing expert to make positive that every single piece of artwork is guarded in the course of journey.

All fingers on deck! It took 10 staff members members to pack Monet’s Drinking water Lilies (Agapanthus) to journey on personal loan to Paris. This group includes art handlers, registrars, a packing specialist, and our colleagues from the conservation department. The do the job is now on check out at the Fondation Louis Vuitton’s Monet — Mitchell exhibition:

The registrar for acquisitions and very long-phrase financial loans is dependable for artworks that are remaining deemed for or entering the assortment. This registrar must connect with galleries and donors to deliver these works of artwork to the museum so that curators and conservation can examine the parts extra carefully and existing the performs to the board of trustees for the duration of acquisition conferences. Must the museum make a decision to obtain a new perform of artwork, the registrar is then billed with coordinating the acquire and finishing all necessary paperwork, shipping arrangements, agreement agreements, numbering, and powering-the-scenes database administration to bring the art to the museum for visitors to enjoy!

Assistant Registrar Jacob Emmett applies an item amount to an artwork working with conservation-protected strategies. This selection allows observe the location of the artwork and is utilized to pull up all related details in our databases that hyperlinks to Selection On the web.

Lastly there is the assortment supervisor and registrar, accountable for protecting the long term assortment that is constantly housed in the museum and stays either on view in our galleries or in storage. This registrar functions with leadership and curators to make sure that the galleries are generally in top rated kind and completely ready to present to our readers. In addition to installing function in the galleries, this registrar need to treatment for and retain the collection arranged as properly, earning absolutely sure that our art storage and collections care is usually conference and exceeding sector criteria for uncomplicated site, servicing, and accessibility to our remarkable selection.

Artwork Handlers

The six art handlers working at the CMA are responsible for all artwork motion and gallery and exhibition installations at the museum. Each working day the artwork handlers employ their blended expertise of applications, tools, components, set up approaches, and dealing with techniques to make sure that the assortment is always protected and accessible to readers even though on check out. When they are not installing in the galleries, the art handlers help with delivering artwork to the pictures studio to be digitized for inclusion in Selection On the web, to the conservation lab for therapy, to the study rooms for curatorial and selection investigate, and more. Verify out the Meet up with the Staff portion in our members journal, Cleveland Art, to read extra about this staff.

Customers of the artwork managing team reinstall the Paul J. and Edith Ingalls Vignos gallery of British art (203A). Every installation requires thoughtful scheduling and interaction to make sure every person moves together as 1 unit. This is especially significant when weighty devices these kinds of as scissor lifts are made use of.


The CMA is fortuitous to have an in-residence packing expert who is effectively versed in the most existing packing methods and supplies needed to securely ship artwork. Irrespective of whether it is for a few miles down the road by truck or 3,000 miles by air, each individual piece is assessed for personalized packing. We use only archival, shock-absorbent supplies that reduce feasible harm brought on by movement, vibration, and off-gassing from other unstable packing resources.


Pictures plays an integral function in the museum, not only for our have reference and documentation but also for the public to be equipped to entry our incredible collection on our web site from any place in the entire world. The museum maintains a point out-of-the-art photographic studio capable of handling the several new sorts of visualization afforded by the arrival of electronic and computational imaging. It is staffed by a few remarkably skilled and proficient photographers with unique locations of skills, and an business office manager who handles scheduling and disseminating the studio’s illustrations or photos the place they are desired. In generating imaging of our assortment objects for our Assortment On the web, their do the job presents a window to the globe, illustrating the breadth and depth of the CMA’s planet-course selection. The studio is effective intently with our curatorial employees to guide in scholarly research as nicely as with our conservation department to assistance their initiatives in collections treatment. They also make imaging to especially increase our exhibitions.

Do you wonder exactly where we get all the wonderful photos of our world-renowned selection? The CMA photographers skillfully seize the ideal digital sights of every artwork. Test out the CMA’s Assortment On the internet for a virtual go to and see all your favored artworks in gorgeous detail!

Stay tuned for future posts from the Collections Management workforce!