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

Harmony Cardenas

By Sydney Slacas, Assistant Registrar

When you go to the Cleveland Museum of Artwork, have you at any time believed about who cares for the incredible assortment? With the collection spanning nearly 6,000 many years of artistic achievement, the CMA’s Collections Management group works hard just about every working day to put in exhibitions, coordinate artwork shipments, entire gallery rotations, photograph and document the selection, and a great deal far more! But what accurately is collections management?

The collections administration section is made up of various scaled-down groups, all specializing in distinct elements of collections treatment. Generally, the division is made up of a collections supervisor, registrars, artwork handlers, photographers, and a packing specialist. Together they are responsible for all features of artwork movement and oversight — from transferring 1 painting out of storage to shipping an full exhibition across the entire world!


There are various registrars doing work in the section, just about every concentrating on a distinctive component of the career. The work of a registrar is mostly coordinating information and trying to keep records for the museum, as nicely as remaining on the entrance line for any logistical facets with regards to the performs of art. As you can picture, this is a monumental process and should be divided amongst numerous persons.

At the CMA, there are 4 diverse kinds of registrars.

Exhibition registrars take care of relations with other museums and lenders when a distinctive 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 Selection, and the exhibitions now on check out in collaboration with Front Intercontinental. Exhibition registrars coordinate each individual logistical detail of the approach when the CMA borrows functions of artwork from yet another establishment, non-public lender, or artist. The approach commences by helping the curator of the exhibition with earning formal requests to the opportunity loan provider and answering queries that the loan company may possibly have when sending their residence to the museum. Just after the formal loan requests are permitted and processed, the registrars commence to arrange shipping and delivery preparations so that the perform of artwork comes safely and on time for display screen. When the artwork has arrived at the museum, the registrar oversees the full unpacking and best set up in the gallery or exhibition hall. You can imagine the complexity when frequently far more than 100 objects are despatched to the museum, from quite a few museums and loan providers, for just one particular exhibition! Not to mention owning to stay inside price range, guide couriers, and preserve a sharp eye on legal necessities! Oh my!

The other facet of the coin is registrar for financial loans, who arranges for the will work of artwork at the CMA to travel the earth and introduce numerous countrywide and global audiences to our astounding assortment! The registrar for loans have to acquire feedback and discipline fears from leadership, curators, and conservation professionals prior to notifying an additional establishment whether or not its financial loan ask for has been accepted. Our registrar for loans arranges and cares for the performs of artwork leaving the museum, working intently with our packing professional to make certain that every single piece of artwork is shielded in the course of travel.

All palms on deck! It took 10 personnel users to pack Monet’s Drinking water Lilies (Agapanthus) to journey on personal loan to Paris. This group includes artwork handlers, registrars, a packing professional, and our colleagues from the conservation office. The do the job is now on see at the Fondation Louis Vuitton’s Monet — Mitchell exhibition:

The registrar for acquisitions and extended-expression loans is accountable for artworks that are getting thought of for or entering the collection. This registrar must communicate with galleries and donors to deliver these works of artwork to the museum so that curators and conservation can analyze the items much more closely and existing the will work to the board of trustees throughout acquisition conferences. Ought to the museum choose to receive a new operate of art, the registrar is then billed with coordinating the obtain and finishing all required paperwork, delivery arrangements, agreement agreements, numbering, and powering-the-scenes databases administration to provide the artwork to the museum for guests to love!

Assistant Registrar Jacob Emmett applies an object range to an artwork utilizing conservation-harmless procedures. This number assists keep track of the place of the artwork and is employed to pull up all connected information and facts in our databases that links to Selection On-line.

Eventually there is the selection supervisor and registrar, liable for protecting the long lasting collection that is usually housed in the museum and stays possibly on watch in our galleries or in storage. This registrar operates with management and curators to assure that the galleries are always in major variety and all set to existing to our site visitors. In addition to putting in work in the galleries, this registrar have to care for and retain the assortment structured as well, creating confident that our art storage and collections care is always assembly and exceeding sector benchmarks for simple location, routine maintenance, and accessibility to our amazing selection.

Artwork Handlers

The six artwork handlers functioning at the CMA are responsible for all artwork motion and gallery and exhibition installations at the museum. Each individual working day the art handlers utilize their merged understanding of tools, equipment, components, set up procedures, and managing expertise to guarantee that the assortment is constantly risk-free and available to site visitors even though on view. When they are not setting up in the galleries, the artwork handlers help with delivering artwork to the images studio to be digitized for inclusion in Selection On line, to the conservation lab for treatment, to the examine rooms for curatorial and selection research, and much more. Verify out the Meet up with the Employees part in our associates journal, Cleveland Artwork, to study much more about this staff.

Users of the art handling crew reinstall the Paul J. and Edith Ingalls Vignos gallery of British artwork (203A). Each individual set up involves thoughtful arranging and communication to make certain everyone moves collectively as a person device. This is particularly vital when major products these as scissor lifts are used.


The CMA is fortuitous to have an in-household packing specialist who is very well versed in the most recent packing methods and materials demanded to securely ship artwork. Whether or not it is for a few miles down the highway by truck or 3,000 miles by air, each and every piece is assessed for tailor made packing. We use only archival, shock-absorbent products that lessen possible problems caused by movement, vibration, and off-gassing from other unstable packing components.


Images plays an integral function in the museum, not only for our very own reference and documentation but also for the general public to be capable to access our remarkable collection on our web site from anywhere in the globe. The museum maintains a point out-of-the-artwork photographic studio capable of handling the quite a few new forms of visualization afforded by the arrival of digital and computational imaging. It is staffed by a few very expert and talented photographers with distinctive regions of skills, and an workplace manager who handles scheduling and disseminating the studio’s visuals the place they are necessary. In manufacturing imaging of our assortment objects for our Collection On the web, their do the job provides a window to the entire world, illustrating the breadth and depth of the CMA’s entire world-course assortment. The studio is effective intently with our curatorial staff to guide in scholarly investigate as perfectly as with our conservation division to aid their attempts in collections treatment. They also create imaging to particularly enrich our exhibitions.

Do you ponder where we get all the amazing illustrations or photos of our environment-renowned collection? The CMA photographers skillfully seize the greatest electronic sights of every single artwork. Check out the CMA’s Selection On the internet for a digital check out and see all your favorite artworks in magnificent depth!

Keep tuned for future posts from the Collections Administration staff!

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