September 29, 2023


Arts Eternal

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 check out the Cleveland Museum of Artwork, have you at any time considered about who cares for the remarkable selection? With the assortment spanning practically 6,000 several years of inventive achievement, the CMA’s Collections Management team functions hard each day to install exhibitions, coordinate art shipments, total gallery rotations, photograph and doc the selection, and much extra! But what specifically is collections management?

The collections administration division is designed up of numerous lesser groups, all specializing in distinctive factors of collections care. Normally, the office is made up of a collections manager, registrars, artwork handlers, photographers, and a packing professional. Jointly they are accountable for all areas of artwork motion and oversight — from relocating a single painting out of storage to delivery an overall exhibition throughout the entire world!


There are numerous registrars functioning in the section, every concentrating on a unique element of the position. The perform of a registrar is mostly coordinating info and holding records for the museum, as properly as being on the entrance line for any logistical aspects concerning the operates of artwork. As you can consider, this is a monumental undertaking and need to be divided amongst various men and women.

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

Exhibition registrars handle relations with other museums and lenders when a specific exhibition is on perspective at the museum, this sort of as Tales of the Metropolis: Drawing in the Netherlands from Bosch to Bruegel, Impressionism to Modernism: the Keithley Collection, and the exhibitions at this time on see in collaboration with Front Intercontinental. Exhibition registrars coordinate every single logistical element of the approach when the CMA borrows operates of art from yet another establishment, non-public lender, or artist. The process begins by helping the curator of the exhibition with building formal requests to the likely financial institution and answering queries that the loan company may possibly have when sending their assets to the museum. After the formal personal loan requests are permitted and processed, the registrars commence to arrange shipping and delivery arrangements so that the operate of art comes securely and on time for screen. As soon as the artwork has arrived at the museum, the registrar oversees the total unpacking and ultimate set up in the gallery or exhibition hall. You can visualize the complexity when generally far more than 100 objects are sent to the museum, from many museums and loan providers, for just 1 exhibition! Not to mention obtaining to keep in budget, help couriers, and hold a sharp eye on authorized necessities! Oh my!

The other facet of the coin is registrar for financial loans, who arranges for the works of artwork at the CMA to vacation the planet and introduce several national and global audiences to our incredible selection! The registrar for financial loans have to obtain feedback and industry concerns from management, curators, and conservation specialists before notifying a different establishment no matter whether its financial loan ask for has been approved. Our registrar for financial loans arranges and cares for the works of artwork leaving the museum, doing work closely with our packing expert to make confident that each and every piece of art is secured through journey.

All hands on deck! It took 10 staff members members to pack Monet’s Drinking water Lilies (Agapanthus) to journey on mortgage to Paris. This team contains art handlers, registrars, a packing specialist, and our colleagues from the conservation section. The function is now on look at at the Fondation Louis Vuitton’s Monet — Mitchell exhibition:

The registrar for acquisitions and prolonged-time period financial loans is liable for artworks that are being considered for or coming into the collection. This registrar will have to talk with galleries and donors to deliver these performs of artwork to the museum so that curators and conservation can take a look at the pieces a lot more closely and present the is effective to the board of trustees throughout acquisition meetings. Really should the museum determine to receive a new perform of art, the registrar is then billed with coordinating the invest in and finishing all necessary paperwork, shipping and delivery preparations, agreement agreements, numbering, and behind-the-scenes database administration to carry the art to the museum for website visitors to appreciate!

Assistant Registrar Jacob Emmett applies an item number to an artwork applying conservation-secure techniques. This range helps track the location of the artwork and is utilised to pull up all linked data in our database that back links to Selection Online.

Ultimately there is the assortment manager and registrar, accountable for keeping the permanent selection that is constantly housed in the museum and stays either on perspective in our galleries or in storage. This registrar will work with leadership and curators to be certain that the galleries are often in leading variety and completely ready to present to our guests. In addition to setting up operate in the galleries, this registrar will have to treatment for and preserve the collection organized as perfectly, producing certain that our artwork storage and collections care is always assembly and exceeding market standards for effortless site, maintenance, and access to our remarkable collection.

Artwork Handlers

The six art handlers doing work at the CMA are responsible for all artwork motion and gallery and exhibition installations at the museum. Just about every working day the artwork handlers utilize their blended expertise of equipment, gear, hardware, set up approaches, and handling capabilities to ensure that the selection is normally safe and sound and obtainable to guests whilst on see. When they are not setting up in the galleries, the art handlers help with delivering artwork to the images studio to be digitized for inclusion in Assortment On the net, to the conservation lab for therapy, to the examine rooms for curatorial and assortment exploration, and extra. Check out out the Meet up with the Personnel area in our customers journal, Cleveland Art, to go through much more about this crew.

Users of the artwork handling staff reinstall the Paul J. and Edith Ingalls Vignos gallery of British art (203A). Every single set up necessitates thoughtful organizing and interaction to make certain every person moves together as 1 unit. This is notably significant when heavy machines this kind of as scissor lifts are applied.


The CMA is lucky to have an in-house packing expert who is properly versed in the most present-day packing procedures and supplies essential to properly ship artwork. Regardless of whether it’s for three miles down the street by truck or 3,000 miles by air, each individual piece is assessed for custom made packing. We use only archival, shock-absorbent components that reduce attainable hurt brought about by motion, vibration, and off-gassing from other unstable packing supplies.


Images plays an integral job in the museum, not only for our own reference and documentation but also for the public to be ready to accessibility our unbelievable selection on our web site from anyplace in the planet. The museum maintains a state-of-the-artwork photographic studio able of handling the numerous new varieties of visualization afforded by the advent of electronic and computational imaging. It is staffed by a few highly skilled and gifted photographers with diverse regions of expertise, and an business manager who handles scheduling and disseminating the studio’s illustrations or photos wherever they are essential. In producing imaging of our selection objects for our Selection On-line, their operate provides a window to the environment, illustrating the breadth and depth of the CMA’s world-course selection. The studio works intently with our curatorial employees to guide in scholarly study as properly as with our conservation section to aid their efforts in collections treatment. They also produce imaging to exclusively enrich our exhibitions.

Do you wonder wherever we get all the astounding photos of our world-renowned assortment? The CMA photographers skillfully seize the greatest electronic sights of just about every artwork. Verify out the CMA’s Selection On the net for a virtual pay a visit to and see all your preferred artworks in stunning element!

Keep tuned for future posts from the Collections Management workforce!