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

By Sydney Slacas, Assistant Registrar

When you visit the Cleveland Museum of Artwork, have you ever believed about who cares for the remarkable selection? With additional than 64,000 objects spanning nearly 6,000 yrs of artistic accomplishment, the CMA’s Collections Management crew works hard each individual working day to set up exhibitions, coordinate artwork shipments, comprehensive gallery rotations, photograph and document the selection, and a lot additional! But what particularly is collections administration?

The collections management section is built up of various smaller groups, all specializing in various elements of collections treatment. Typically, the office consists of a collections manager, registrars, art handlers, photographers, and a packing expert. Together they are liable for all elements of artwork movement and oversight — from moving a person portray out of storage to shipping an complete exhibition throughout the planet!


There are many registrars doing work in the division, each and every concentrating on a distinctive part of the occupation. The work of a registrar is mainly coordinating info and retaining records for the museum, as nicely as remaining on the front line for any logistical factors relating to the performs of artwork. As you can picture, this is a monumental task and must be divided among the numerous people.

At the CMA, there are 4 unique types of registrars.

Exhibition registrars handle relations with other museums and creditors when a unique exhibition is on look at at the museum, these kinds of as Tales of the City: Drawing in the Netherlands from Bosch to Bruegel, Impressionism to Modernism: the Keithley Assortment, and the exhibitions at present on look at in collaboration with Front International. Exhibition registrars coordinate just about every logistical detail of the course of action when the CMA borrows is effective of artwork from an additional establishment, private financial institution, or artist. The procedure starts by aiding the curator of the exhibition with earning official requests to the potential loan company and answering questions that the loan provider may have when sending their house to the museum. After the official financial loan requests are authorized and processed, the registrars begin to organize delivery arrangements so that the function of art comes safely and on time for screen. When 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 think about the complexity when often additional than 100 objects are despatched to the museum, from many museums and loan providers, for just 1 exhibition! Not to point out owning to keep in funds, help couriers, and maintain a sharp eye on authorized prerequisites! Oh my!

The other side of the coin is registrar for financial loans, who arranges for the functions of art at the CMA to journey the earth and introduce various national and international audiences to our awesome selection! The registrar for financial loans should obtain feedback and industry considerations from leadership, curators, and conservation professionals just before notifying an additional establishment whether its mortgage request has been accredited. Our registrar for financial loans arranges and cares for the works of artwork leaving the museum, doing the job carefully with our packing expert to make positive that every piece of artwork is secured in the course of journey.

All palms on deck! It took 10 staff customers to pack Monet’s Water Lilies (Agapanthus) to vacation on loan to Paris. This team features art handlers, registrars, a packing specialist, and our colleagues from the conservation office. The do the job is now on perspective at the Fondation Louis Vuitton’s Monet — Mitchell exhibition:

The registrar for acquisitions and long-time period loans is responsible for artworks that are currently being regarded as for or getting into the assortment. This registrar must connect with galleries and donors to deliver these performs of artwork to the museum so that curators and conservation can look at the parts extra intently and current the works to the board of trustees through acquisition meetings. Really should the museum make your mind up to acquire a new operate of art, the registrar is then billed with coordinating the purchase and completing all necessary paperwork, shipping and delivery arrangements, agreement agreements, numbering, and behind-the-scenes databases management to carry the art to the museum for people to appreciate!

Assistant Registrar Jacob Emmett applies an object selection to an artwork using conservation-safe techniques. This quantity will help track the locale of the artwork and is used to pull up all connected information in our database that links to Collection On the net.

Lastly there is the selection supervisor and registrar, accountable for retaining the everlasting selection that is constantly housed in the museum and continues to be either on watch in our galleries or in storage. This registrar works with management and curators to make sure that the galleries are generally in leading form and ready to existing to our site visitors. In addition to putting in function in the galleries, this registrar have to treatment for and preserve the collection arranged as effectively, earning absolutely sure that our artwork storage and collections care is generally assembly and exceeding marketplace specifications for simple location, routine maintenance, and entry to our extraordinary assortment.

Art Handlers

The 6 art handlers functioning at the CMA are dependable for all artwork movement and gallery and exhibition installations at the museum. Each working day the artwork handlers make the most of their mixed knowledge of equipment, devices, hardware, installation procedures, and handling techniques to be certain that the assortment is often secure and available to readers even though on see. When they’re not installing in the galleries, the artwork handlers help with providing artwork to the photography studio to be digitized for inclusion in Assortment On line, to the conservation lab for therapy, to the research rooms for curatorial and selection investigate, and extra. Look at out the Meet the Workers area in our users journal, Cleveland Art, to examine extra about this staff.

Members of the artwork handling workforce reinstall the Paul J. and Edith Ingalls Vignos gallery of British artwork (203A). Every single set up necessitates thoughtful scheduling and communication to assure anyone moves with each other as just one unit. This is significantly vital when heavy devices this sort of as scissor lifts are applied.


The CMA is lucky to have an in-property packing expert who is properly versed in the most present packing methods and resources essential to safely ship artwork. Whether it is for a few miles down the road by truck or 3,000 miles by air, every single piece is assessed for customized packing. We use only archival, shock-absorbent materials that decrease doable injury triggered by movement, vibration, and off-gassing from other unstable packing components.


Pictures plays an integral part in the museum, not only for our have reference and documentation but also for the community to be capable to entry our incredible collection on our site from anywhere in the environment. The museum maintains a point out-of-the-art photographic studio able of managing the many new varieties of visualization afforded by the arrival of digital and computational imaging. It is staffed by a few really seasoned and gifted photographers with various regions of expertise, and an workplace manager who handles scheduling and disseminating the studio’s images wherever they are needed. In making imaging of our assortment objects for our Assortment On the internet, their operate gives a window to the globe, illustrating the breadth and depth of the CMA’s entire world-class assortment. The studio is effective intently with our curatorial team to assist in scholarly investigation as properly as with our conservation division to enable their attempts in collections care. They also generate imaging to precisely boost our exhibitions.

Do you question in which we get all the incredible photographs of our earth-renowned selection? The CMA photographers skillfully seize the ideal electronic views of each artwork. Look at out the CMA’s Assortment Online for a virtual pay a visit to and see all your preferred artworks in gorgeous detail!

Continue to be tuned for future posts from the Collections Administration workforce!

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