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

By Sydney Slacas, Assistant Registrar

When you pay a visit to the Cleveland Museum of Art, have you ever believed about who cares for the incredible assortment? With the selection spanning practically 6,000 a long time of artistic achievement, the CMA’s Collections Administration staff performs difficult each individual day to put in exhibitions, coordinate art shipments, full gallery rotations, photograph and doc the assortment, and much more! But what accurately is collections management?

The collections management division is manufactured up of various lesser teams, all specializing in diverse factors of collections care. Frequently, the department is composed of a collections supervisor, registrars, art handlers, photographers, and a packing expert. Together they are responsible for all facets of artwork movement and oversight — from going just one painting out of storage to shipping an full exhibition across the environment!


There are quite a few registrars functioning in the division, each and every concentrating on a unique part of the career. The get the job done of a registrar is mainly coordinating info and holding information for the museum, as very well as staying on the front line for any logistical facets regarding the functions of artwork. As you can picture, this is a monumental endeavor and ought to be divided among the various persons.

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

Exhibition registrars deal with relations with other museums and loan providers when a special exhibition is on see at the museum, these as Tales of the City: Drawing in the Netherlands from Bosch to Bruegel, Impressionism to Modernism: the Keithley Assortment, and the exhibitions presently on see in collaboration with Front Intercontinental. Exhibition registrars coordinate each individual logistical element of the method when the CMA borrows works of artwork from a further establishment, non-public lender, or artist. The method commences by aiding the curator of the exhibition with creating official requests to the prospective loan company and answering issues that the loan company may well have when sending their assets to the museum. Soon after the formal personal loan requests are accepted and processed, the registrars start to manage shipping arrangements so that the operate of art comes properly and on time for display screen. At the time the artwork has arrived at the museum, the registrar oversees the full unpacking and best set up in the gallery or exhibition corridor. You can envision the complexity when often additional than 100 objects are sent to the museum, from a lot of museums and lenders, for just 1 exhibition! Not to mention getting to remain within spending budget, help couriers, and preserve a sharp eye on legal prerequisites! Oh my!

The other facet of the coin is registrar for financial loans, who arranges for the operates of artwork at the CMA to vacation the entire world and introduce many national and intercontinental audiences to our incredible selection! The registrar for financial loans need to obtain opinions and area worries from leadership, curators, and conservation specialists ahead of notifying a different establishment whether or not its financial loan ask for has been accredited. Our registrar for loans arranges and cares for the works of art leaving the museum, functioning closely with our packing specialist to make sure that just about every piece of art is protected for the duration of journey.

All fingers on deck! It took 10 staff associates to pack Monet’s H2o Lilies (Agapanthus) to journey on personal loan to Paris. This team consists of artwork handlers, registrars, a packing specialist, and our colleagues from the conservation division. The function is now on check out at the Fondation Louis Vuitton’s Monet — Mitchell exhibition:

The registrar for acquisitions and prolonged-expression financial loans is dependable for artworks that are remaining regarded as for or entering the collection. This registrar should converse with galleries and donors to carry these works of art to the museum so that curators and conservation can look at the pieces much more carefully and existing the operates to the board of trustees in the course of acquisition conferences. Should the museum decide to purchase a new operate of art, the registrar is then billed with coordinating the order and completing all vital paperwork, transport arrangements, deal agreements, numbering, and driving-the-scenes databases administration to carry the art to the museum for people to get pleasure from!

Assistant Registrar Jacob Emmett applies an object number to an artwork utilizing conservation-harmless techniques. This variety allows keep track of the locale of the artwork and is utilized to pull up all associated information in our database that backlinks to Selection On line.

Ultimately there is the selection supervisor and registrar, dependable for maintaining the long lasting collection that is normally housed in the museum and continues to be possibly on look at in our galleries or in storage. This registrar will work with management and curators to make certain that the galleries are normally in top rated type and ready to current to our people. In addition to setting up function in the galleries, this registrar need to treatment for and preserve the assortment structured as effectively, building sure that our artwork storage and collections treatment is constantly conference and exceeding business expectations for easy spot, maintenance, and access to our incredible selection.

Art Handlers

The 6 artwork handlers doing the job at the CMA are liable for all art movement and gallery and exhibition installations at the museum. Just about every day the artwork handlers employ their blended information of applications, tools, components, set up techniques, and dealing with abilities to be certain that the assortment is normally harmless and accessible to guests when on check out. When they’re not putting in in the galleries, the art handlers support with providing artwork to the images studio to be digitized for inclusion in Assortment Online, to the conservation lab for remedy, to the examine rooms for curatorial and selection investigation, and additional. Check out out the Satisfy the Staff portion in our users magazine, Cleveland Artwork, to examine a lot more about this group.

Customers of the artwork dealing with staff reinstall the Paul J. and Edith Ingalls Vignos gallery of British art (203A). Each individual set up calls for thoughtful setting up and conversation to ensure anyone moves collectively as one device. This is specifically significant when heavy devices such as scissor lifts are utilised.


The CMA is privileged to have an in-house packing professional who is effectively versed in the most latest packing methods and resources needed to properly ship artwork. No matter whether it is for 3 miles down the street by truck or 3,000 miles by air, each piece is assessed for customized packing. We use only archival, shock-absorbent components that lessen attainable problems induced by movement, vibration, and off-gassing from other unstable packing materials.


Photography plays an integral function in the museum, not only for our personal reference and documentation but also for the community to be equipped to entry our incredible assortment on our web page from any place in the entire world. The museum maintains a point out-of-the-art photographic studio capable of handling the lots of new sorts of visualization afforded by the advent of digital and computational imaging. It is staffed by 3 remarkably experienced and proficient photographers with unique regions of experience, and an office manager who handles scheduling and disseminating the studio’s pictures where they are wanted. In manufacturing imaging of our selection objects for our Collection On line, their get the job done presents a window to the planet, illustrating the breadth and depth of the CMA’s earth-course assortment. The studio operates intently with our curatorial employees to aid in scholarly study as perfectly as with our conservation section to support their endeavours in collections treatment. They also produce imaging to specially improve our exhibitions.

Do you speculate in which we get all the amazing photographs of our globe-renowned assortment? The CMA photographers skillfully capture the best electronic sights of each artwork. Check out out the CMA’s Assortment Online for a virtual pay a visit to and see all your preferred artworks in lovely depth!

Stay tuned for foreseeable future posts from the Collections Management crew!

By arnia