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

By Sydney Slacas, Assistant Registrar

When you stop by the Cleveland Museum of Artwork, have you at any time thought about who cares for the amazing collection? With additional than 64,000 objects spanning nearly 6,000 years of inventive accomplishment, the CMA’s Collections Management workforce is effective hard each and every day to install exhibitions, coordinate artwork shipments, comprehensive gallery rotations, photograph and doc the selection, and substantially extra! But what just is collections administration?

The collections administration department is made up of quite a few smaller teams, all specializing in distinctive elements of collections care. Frequently, the office is made up of a collections manager, registrars, artwork handlers, photographers, and a packing specialist. Together they are accountable for all aspects of art motion and oversight — from moving a single portray out of storage to transport an whole exhibition across the earth!


There are numerous registrars working in the office, each focusing on a diverse component of the job. The operate of a registrar is primarily coordinating facts and retaining documents for the museum, as effectively as remaining on the entrance line for any logistical aspects regarding the performs of art. As you can imagine, this is a monumental task and will have to be divided among a number of folks.

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

Exhibition registrars deal with relations with other museums and creditors when a particular exhibition is on view at the museum, these types of as Tales of the City: Drawing in the Netherlands from Bosch to Bruegel, Impressionism to Modernism: the Keithley Assortment, and the exhibitions at this time on view in collaboration with Front Worldwide. Exhibition registrars coordinate just about every logistical element of the system when the CMA borrows operates of artwork from a further institution, personal lender, or artist. The course of action begins by aiding the curator of the exhibition with making formal requests to the potential financial institution and answering inquiries that the loan company might have when sending their assets to the museum. Following the formal mortgage requests are authorized and processed, the registrars start out to organize delivery arrangements so that the operate of artwork comes safely and on time for display screen. When the artwork has arrived at the museum, the registrar oversees the total unpacking and supreme installation in the gallery or exhibition corridor. You can consider the complexity when frequently extra than 100 objects are sent to the museum, from many museums and loan providers, for just one exhibition! Not to mention possessing to remain within just price range, assist couriers, and retain a sharp eye on legal demands! Oh my!

The other facet of the coin is registrar for loans, who arranges for the will work of artwork at the CMA to vacation the planet and introduce various countrywide and worldwide audiences to our remarkable selection! The registrar for loans ought to obtain opinions and industry considerations from leadership, curators, and conservation experts prior to notifying a different establishment whether its financial loan request has been accredited. Our registrar for loans arranges and cares for the will work of artwork leaving the museum, working intently with our packing specialist to make positive that each individual piece of art is safeguarded all through vacation.

All fingers on deck! It took 10 personnel users to pack Monet’s H2o Lilies (Agapanthus) to vacation on mortgage to Paris. This group incorporates artwork handlers, registrars, a packing professional, and our colleagues from the conservation office. The function is now on view at the Fondation Louis Vuitton’s Monet — Mitchell exhibition:

The registrar for acquisitions and very long-time period loans is dependable for artworks that are becoming thought of for or coming into the collection. This registrar must converse with galleries and donors to convey these will work of art to the museum so that curators and conservation can take a look at the parts a lot more closely and existing the functions to the board of trustees for the duration of acquisition meetings. Really should the museum choose to receive a new function of artwork, the registrar is then charged with coordinating the buy and completing all essential paperwork, transport preparations, deal agreements, numbering, and at the rear of-the-scenes databases administration to bring the art to the museum for guests to delight in!

Assistant Registrar Jacob Emmett applies an item selection to an artwork making use of conservation-safe and sound solutions. This range allows monitor the location of the artwork and is utilised to pull up all related data in our database that links to Assortment On line.

Finally there is the assortment manager and registrar, dependable for retaining the long lasting selection that is often housed in the museum and stays both on perspective in our galleries or in storage. This registrar is effective with leadership and curators to assure that the galleries are generally in top sort and ready to current to our readers. In addition to putting in perform in the galleries, this registrar must treatment for and preserve the selection arranged as well, earning absolutely sure that our art storage and collections treatment is generally conference and exceeding market expectations for uncomplicated location, servicing, and entry to our remarkable collection.

Artwork Handlers

The six art handlers operating at the CMA are dependable for all art motion and gallery and exhibition installations at the museum. Just about every working day the artwork handlers use their blended information of tools, equipment, hardware, set up methods, and dealing with competencies to be certain that the selection is always safe and accessible to visitors whilst on view. When they are not putting in in the galleries, the art handlers guide with providing artwork to the images studio to be digitized for inclusion in Collection On the internet, to the conservation lab for treatment, to the study rooms for curatorial and collection analysis, and extra. Check out the Meet the Workers area in our members magazine, Cleveland Art, to examine extra about this crew.

Members of the art managing staff reinstall the Paul J. and Edith Ingalls Vignos gallery of British art (203A). Each individual installation requires thoughtful planning and interaction to assure everyone moves collectively as just one device. This is particularly crucial when large equipment these kinds of as scissor lifts are applied.


The CMA is lucky to have an in-residence packing professional who is nicely versed in the most existing packing approaches and products essential to properly ship artwork. Irrespective of whether it is for three miles down the highway by truck or 3,000 miles by air, each individual piece is assessed for customized packing. We use only archival, shock-absorbent resources that minimize achievable destruction brought about by motion, vibration, and off-gassing from other unstable packing materials.


Images plays an integral job in the museum, not only for our have reference and documentation but also for the community to be in a position to accessibility our unbelievable assortment on our website from anywhere in the earth. The museum maintains a state-of-the-art photographic studio able of managing the numerous new varieties of visualization afforded by the introduction of electronic and computational imaging. It is staffed by three really skilled and talented photographers with distinct parts of knowledge, and an place of work manager who handles scheduling and disseminating the studio’s pictures where they are needed. In developing imaging of our collection objects for our Collection On the web, their function provides a window to the globe, illustrating the breadth and depth of the CMA’s earth-course collection. The studio works closely with our curatorial employees to help in scholarly research as effectively as with our conservation division to aid their endeavours in collections care. They also make imaging to specially improve our exhibitions.

Do you wonder wherever we get all the incredible photographs of our globe-renowned selection? The CMA photographers skillfully capture the best digital views of just about every artwork. Check out the CMA’s Assortment On-line for a virtual stop by and see all your most loved artworks in gorgeous detail!

Stay tuned for future posts from the Collections Administration workforce!