Component Parts of Collections Management: Who’s Who? | by Cleveland Museum of Art | CMA Thinker | Oct, 2022

By Sydney Slacas, Assistant Registrar

When you visit the Cleveland Museum of Art, have you at any time assumed about who cares for the incredible assortment? With the assortment spanning practically 6,000 decades of inventive accomplishment, the CMA’s Collections Management team functions challenging each individual working day to set up exhibitions, coordinate art shipments, entire gallery rotations, photograph and doc the collection, and considerably more! But what precisely is collections management?

The collections management division is designed up of numerous scaled-down groups, all specializing in unique aspects of collections treatment. Generally, the division is composed of a collections supervisor, registrars, art handlers, photographers, and a packing professional. Together they are accountable for all factors of artwork movement and oversight — from shifting 1 painting out of storage to delivery an whole exhibition throughout the globe!


There are numerous registrars operating in the department, just about every focusing on a different facet of the career. The get the job done of a registrar is predominantly coordinating details and keeping data for the museum, as well as becoming on the entrance line for any logistical facets regarding the will work of art. As you can consider, this is a monumental task and must be divided amid quite a few persons.

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

Exhibition registrars control relations with other museums and loan companies when a exclusive exhibition is on perspective at the museum, this sort of as Tales of the Town: Drawing in the Netherlands from Bosch to Bruegel, Impressionism to Modernism: the Keithley Collection, and the exhibitions presently on perspective in collaboration with Front Global. Exhibition registrars coordinate each and every logistical element of the approach when the CMA borrows functions of art from a further institution, private financial institution, or artist. The system starts by helping the curator of the exhibition with creating formal requests to the probable loan company and answering concerns that the loan company may well have when sending their home to the museum. Immediately after the official personal loan requests are authorised and processed, the registrars begin to organize transport arrangements so that the function of artwork comes safely and securely and on time for screen. At the time the artwork has arrived at the museum, the registrar oversees the full unpacking and ultimate set up in the gallery or exhibition corridor. You can picture the complexity when often a lot more than 100 objects are sent to the museum, from numerous museums and creditors, for just a person exhibition! Not to point out acquiring to continue to be within spending budget, guide couriers, and maintain a sharp eye on authorized specifications! Oh my!

The other aspect of the coin is registrar for financial loans, who arranges for the performs of artwork at the CMA to travel the environment and introduce many national and intercontinental audiences to our awesome collection! The registrar for loans should obtain comments and subject worries from management, curators, and conservation experts right before notifying another establishment no matter if its personal loan ask for has been authorised. Our registrar for loans arranges and cares for the operates of art leaving the museum, doing work intently with our packing specialist to make certain that every single piece of art is shielded throughout journey.

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

The registrar for acquisitions and very long-time period financial loans is accountable for artworks that are being considered for or coming into the assortment. This registrar must converse with galleries and donors to convey these operates of art to the museum so that curators and conservation can examine the pieces a lot more carefully and present the operates to the board of trustees throughout acquisition conferences. Should really the museum come to a decision to get a new function of artwork, the registrar is then billed with coordinating the invest in and finishing all required paperwork, transport arrangements, contract agreements, numbering, and behind-the-scenes database management to bring the artwork to the museum for visitors to love!

Assistant Registrar Jacob Emmett applies an item range to an artwork making use of conservation-secure methods. This selection will help monitor the location of the artwork and is utilized to pull up all related data in our databases that inbound links to Assortment On the web.

At last there is the assortment supervisor and registrar, accountable for retaining the everlasting selection that is generally housed in the museum and continues to be either on perspective in our galleries or in storage. This registrar will work with management and curators to assure that the galleries are normally in top sort and prepared to current to our readers. In addition to putting in function in the galleries, this registrar should treatment for and continue to keep the assortment organized as effectively, creating confident that our art storage and collections treatment is always conference and exceeding market requirements for quick spot, routine maintenance, and entry to our incredible assortment.

Artwork Handlers

The 6 artwork handlers operating at the CMA are accountable for all art movement and gallery and exhibition installations at the museum. Every day the artwork handlers benefit from their put together information of tools, tools, hardware, set up tactics, and handling techniques to make sure that the selection is always secure and obtainable to visitors when on see. When they are not installing in the galleries, the artwork handlers guide with delivering artwork to the images studio to be digitized for inclusion in Assortment On the internet, to the conservation lab for procedure, to the study rooms for curatorial and collection study, and more. Look at out the Satisfy the Staff segment in our customers journal, Cleveland Artwork, to browse extra about this workforce.

Customers of the art handling group reinstall the Paul J. and Edith Ingalls Vignos gallery of British artwork (203A). Every single set up needs considerate preparing and communication to assure every person moves jointly as just one unit. This is particularly critical when hefty tools this kind of as scissor lifts are applied.


The CMA is fortunate to have an in-residence packing specialist who is effectively versed in the most existing packing approaches and materials needed to securely ship artwork. No matter if it is for three miles down the street by truck or 3,000 miles by air, just about every piece is assessed for personalized packing. We use only archival, shock-absorbent elements that minimize probable hurt brought on by movement, vibration, and off-gassing from other unstable packing resources.


Images performs an integral position in the museum, not only for our personal reference and documentation but also for the community to be in a position to accessibility our extraordinary collection on our web page from any where in the entire world. The museum maintains a state-of-the-art photographic studio capable of dealing with the quite a few new kinds of visualization afforded by the advent of electronic and computational imaging. It is staffed by three extremely knowledgeable and talented photographers with distinct areas of know-how, and an workplace supervisor who handles scheduling and disseminating the studio’s photos where they are required. In producing imaging of our collection objects for our Collection Online, their operate supplies a window to the globe, illustrating the breadth and depth of the CMA’s world-course selection. The studio is effective carefully with our curatorial personnel to assist in scholarly analysis as well as with our conservation section to assistance their efforts in collections care. They also create imaging to exclusively greatly enhance our exhibitions.

Do you marvel wherever we get all the wonderful visuals of our environment-renowned assortment? The CMA photographers skillfully capture the ideal electronic sights of every artwork. Look at out the CMA’s Collection On the net for a virtual take a look at and see all your beloved artworks in lovely element!

Stay tuned for long term posts from the Collections Administration team!