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

By Sydney Slacas, Assistant Registrar

When you go to the Cleveland Museum of Artwork, have you ever believed about who cares for the extraordinary selection? With the collection spanning virtually 6,000 years of creative achievement, the CMA’s Collections Management staff functions challenging every working day to put in exhibitions, coordinate artwork shipments, entire gallery rotations, photograph and document the collection, and much additional! But what specifically is collections management?

The collections administration department is built up of quite a few more compact teams, all specializing in distinct features of collections care. Generally, the section consists of a collections supervisor, registrars, artwork handlers, photographers, and a packing professional. With each other they are responsible for all factors of artwork movement and oversight — from going one painting out of storage to delivery an overall exhibition across the environment!


There are several registrars operating in the division, each individual concentrating on a distinctive factor of the position. The operate of a registrar is primarily coordinating information and keeping data for the museum, as nicely as becoming on the entrance line for any logistical elements about the works of artwork. As you can envision, this is a monumental process and have to be divided amongst many individuals.

At the CMA, there are four various varieties of registrars.

Exhibition registrars handle relations with other museums and creditors when a exclusive exhibition is on view at the museum, this sort of as Tales of the Town: Drawing in the Netherlands from Bosch to Bruegel, Impressionism to Modernism: the Keithley Selection, and the exhibitions at this time on check out in collaboration with Front Worldwide. Exhibition registrars coordinate each and every logistical depth of the course of action when the CMA borrows works of artwork from another establishment, non-public loan provider, or artist. The approach commences by aiding the curator of the exhibition with generating official requests to the prospective loan provider and answering questions that the financial institution could have when sending their property to the museum. Right after the formal mortgage requests are accepted and processed, the registrars start out to manage transport preparations so that the function of artwork arrives securely and on time for display. As soon as the artwork has arrived at the museum, the registrar oversees the full unpacking and supreme installation in the gallery or exhibition hall. You can envision the complexity when normally a lot more than 100 objects are sent to the museum, from many museums and loan companies, for just 1 exhibition! Not to point out obtaining to continue to be in spending plan, aid couriers, and hold a sharp eye on authorized needs! Oh my!

The other facet of the coin is registrar for loans, who arranges for the functions of artwork at the CMA to vacation the earth and introduce a variety of countrywide and intercontinental audiences to our incredible assortment! The registrar for loans will have to get feed-back and field worries from management, curators, and conservation specialists ahead of notifying yet another establishment whether or not its mortgage ask for has been accredited. Our registrar for loans arranges and cares for the is effective of art leaving the museum, working closely with our packing professional to make sure that each and every piece of artwork is secured all through journey.

All hands on deck! It took 10 personnel customers to pack Monet’s Water Lilies (Agapanthus) to travel on loan to Paris. This group contains artwork handlers, registrars, a packing expert, and our colleagues from the conservation section. The work is now on view at the Fondation Louis Vuitton’s Monet — Mitchell exhibition:

The registrar for acquisitions and extended-phrase financial loans is liable for artworks that are getting deemed for or getting into the selection. This registrar ought to communicate with galleries and donors to bring these operates of art to the museum so that curators and conservation can study the parts extra carefully and present the operates to the board of trustees through acquisition meetings. Should really the museum decide to obtain a new perform of artwork, the registrar is then charged with coordinating the purchase and finishing all vital paperwork, transport preparations, contract agreements, numbering, and behind-the-scenes database management to convey the artwork to the museum for readers to love!

Assistant Registrar Jacob Emmett applies an object variety to an artwork working with conservation-safe methods. This quantity can help keep track of the location of the artwork and is utilised to pull up all associated details in our database that back links to Assortment On the web.

At last there is the assortment manager and registrar, dependable for keeping the long term selection that is constantly housed in the museum and remains either on view in our galleries or in storage. This registrar works with leadership and curators to make sure that the galleries are usually in top rated type and ready to current to our visitors. In addition to installing function in the galleries, this registrar need to care for and preserve the selection structured as effectively, creating sure that our artwork storage and collections treatment is usually conference and exceeding field benchmarks for simple area, servicing, and entry to our extraordinary selection.

Art Handlers

The 6 art handlers working at the CMA are dependable for all artwork movement and gallery and exhibition installations at the museum. Each and every day the art handlers employ their merged knowledge of tools, tools, components, installation methods, and handling competencies to make sure that the collection is usually secure and available to readers even though on look at. When they’re not setting up in the galleries, the art handlers support with providing artwork to the photography studio to be digitized for inclusion in Selection On the net, to the conservation lab for therapy, to the study rooms for curatorial and collection investigation, and far more. Test out the Fulfill the Workers part in our members magazine, Cleveland Artwork, to read much more about this staff.

Members of the art dealing with staff reinstall the Paul J. and Edith Ingalls Vignos gallery of British artwork (203A). Each set up needs thoughtful setting up and communication to guarantee all people moves together as a single device. This is particularly significant when heavy machines this sort of as scissor lifts are applied.


The CMA is lucky to have an in-home packing specialist who is properly versed in the most recent packing techniques and products necessary to safely and securely ship artwork. Irrespective of whether it’s for a few miles down the road by truck or 3,000 miles by air, each individual piece is assessed for tailor made packing. We use only archival, shock-absorbent materials that reduce attainable problems caused by movement, vibration, and off-gassing from other unstable packing materials.


Photography performs an integral function in the museum, not only for our very own reference and documentation but also for the general public to be ready to obtain our incredible selection on our web-site from any where in the globe. The museum maintains a point out-of-the-art photographic studio capable of handling the numerous new sorts of visualization afforded by the arrival of digital and computational imaging. It is staffed by three extremely experienced and proficient photographers with distinctive areas of abilities, and an workplace supervisor who handles scheduling and disseminating the studio’s pictures where they are desired. In producing imaging of our assortment objects for our Assortment Online, their perform provides a window to the environment, illustrating the breadth and depth of the CMA’s entire world-course collection. The studio is effective intently with our curatorial team to assist in scholarly research as very well as with our conservation section to aid their initiatives in collections treatment. They also make imaging to precisely improve our exhibitions.

Do you wonder in which we get all the amazing images of our earth-renowned collection? The CMA photographers skillfully seize the best digital sights of each artwork. Check out the CMA’s Selection On-line for a digital check out and see all your preferred artworks in gorgeous element!

Continue to be tuned for potential posts from the Collections Management crew!