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 Artwork, have you ever believed about who cares for the amazing assortment? With the selection spanning virtually 6,000 a long time of inventive accomplishment, the CMA’s Collections Administration staff performs really hard every working day to set up exhibitions, coordinate art shipments, complete gallery rotations, photograph and doc the selection, and considerably additional! But what specifically is collections administration?

The collections administration section is produced up of quite a few more compact groups, all specializing in unique facets of collections treatment. Normally, the division is made up of a collections supervisor, registrars, art handlers, photographers, and a packing professional. With each other they are dependable for all elements of artwork movement and oversight — from going 1 portray out of storage to shipping and delivery an total exhibition across the earth!


There are several registrars doing work in the office, each and every focusing on a distinctive element of the work. The work of a registrar is predominantly coordinating data and maintaining data for the museum, as perfectly as currently being on the entrance line for any logistical facets relating to the operates of artwork. As you can imagine, this is a monumental process and have to be divided between quite a few individuals.

At the CMA, there are 4 distinctive types of registrars.

Exhibition registrars regulate relations with other museums and lenders when a specific exhibition is on view at the museum, these as Tales of the Town: Drawing in the Netherlands from Bosch to Bruegel, Impressionism to Modernism: the Keithley Selection, and the exhibitions currently on see in collaboration with Front Worldwide. Exhibition registrars coordinate each logistical element of the procedure when the CMA borrows performs of art from a different institution, non-public lender, or artist. The course of action begins by assisting the curator of the exhibition with producing formal requests to the prospective financial institution and answering inquiries that the loan provider could possibly have when sending their assets to the museum. Just after the formal financial loan requests are authorised and processed, the registrars start to organize shipping and delivery arrangements so that the work of art arrives safely and on time for exhibit. As soon as the artwork has arrived at the museum, the registrar oversees the overall unpacking and greatest installation in the gallery or exhibition corridor. You can imagine the complexity when typically far more than 100 objects are sent to the museum, from quite a few museums and creditors, for just one exhibition! Not to mention obtaining to remain inside of spending budget, help couriers, and continue to keep a sharp eye on lawful demands! Oh my!

The other side of the coin is registrar for financial loans, who arranges for the is effective of art at the CMA to journey the environment and introduce different nationwide and global audiences to our amazing collection! The registrar for loans need to receive responses and subject fears from leadership, curators, and conservation specialists ahead of notifying an additional establishment no matter whether its personal loan request has been permitted. Our registrar for financial loans arranges and cares for the performs of artwork leaving the museum, working intently with our packing professional to make sure that every single piece of artwork is secured during travel.

All arms on deck! It took 10 team associates to pack Monet’s H2o Lilies (Agapanthus) to vacation on bank loan to Paris. This group contains artwork handlers, registrars, a packing expert, and our colleagues from the conservation division. The perform is now on perspective at the Fondation Louis Vuitton’s Monet — Mitchell exhibition:

The registrar for acquisitions and prolonged-time period financial loans is responsible for artworks that are remaining deemed for or getting into the collection. This registrar have to connect with galleries and donors to deliver these functions of art to the museum so that curators and conservation can examine the parts far more intently and current the functions to the board of trustees all through acquisition conferences. Ought to the museum determine to purchase a new get the job done of artwork, the registrar is then charged with coordinating the invest in and finishing all vital paperwork, shipping and delivery preparations, agreement agreements, numbering, and guiding-the-scenes database administration to deliver the art to the museum for site visitors to get pleasure from!

Assistant Registrar Jacob Emmett applies an item number to an artwork making use of conservation-risk-free methods. This range helps keep track of the place of the artwork and is employed to pull up all related information in our databases that back links to Collection On the internet.

Eventually there is the collection supervisor and registrar, responsible for maintaining the lasting selection that is always housed in the museum and stays possibly on perspective in our galleries or in storage. This registrar will work with leadership and curators to guarantee that the galleries are generally in leading sort and all set to existing to our visitors. In addition to installing operate in the galleries, this registrar ought to treatment for and keep the collection arranged as effectively, building sure that our art storage and collections treatment is always meeting and exceeding market specifications for effortless area, servicing, and obtain to our extraordinary selection.

Art Handlers

The six art handlers operating at the CMA are accountable for all artwork motion and gallery and exhibition installations at the museum. Just about every day the art handlers benefit from their blended awareness of tools, machines, components, set up procedures, and dealing with competencies to make sure that the assortment is always harmless and available to website visitors even though on perspective. When they are not setting up in the galleries, the art handlers assist with offering artwork to the pictures studio to be digitized for inclusion in Assortment Online, to the conservation lab for treatment method, to the analyze rooms for curatorial and collection research, and far more. Verify out the Satisfy the Staff area in our members journal, Cleveland Artwork, to go through a lot more about this workforce.

Members of the artwork managing workforce reinstall the Paul J. and Edith Ingalls Vignos gallery of British artwork (203A). Just about every set up necessitates thoughtful scheduling and interaction to ensure everyone moves with each other as a single unit. This is specially important when heavy products this kind of as scissor lifts are made use of.


The CMA is fortunate to have an in-home packing specialist who is very well versed in the most recent packing procedures and components necessary to safely and securely ship artwork. No matter if it is for a few miles down the road by truck or 3,000 miles by air, each individual piece is assessed for custom made packing. We use only archival, shock-absorbent elements that minimize doable injury brought on by motion, vibration, and off-gassing from other unstable packing resources.


Photography plays an integral part in the museum, not only for our own reference and documentation but also for the public to be in a position to obtain our outstanding selection on our internet site from anywhere in the planet. The museum maintains a state-of-the-artwork photographic studio capable of dealing with the lots of new sorts of visualization afforded by the arrival of electronic and computational imaging. It is staffed by a few extremely seasoned and gifted photographers with various locations of knowledge, and an office environment manager who handles scheduling and disseminating the studio’s illustrations or photos in which they are wanted. In developing imaging of our selection objects for our Selection On the internet, their perform supplies a window to the world, illustrating the breadth and depth of the CMA’s entire world-class collection. The studio performs intently with our curatorial team to aid in scholarly study as well as with our conservation department to aid their initiatives in collections treatment. They also develop imaging to especially enrich our exhibitions.

Do you wonder the place we get all the astounding images of our environment-renowned assortment? The CMA photographers skillfully seize the finest digital views of each artwork. Check out out the CMA’s Selection On line for a digital visit and see all your favorite artworks in stunning detail!

Remain tuned for long run posts from the Collections Administration crew!

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