July 15, 2024


Trailblazing music quality

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 visit the Cleveland Museum of Art, have you ever assumed about who cares for the incredible collection? With the selection spanning practically 6,000 decades of artistic achievement, the CMA’s Collections Administration team operates hard every working day to set up exhibitions, coordinate art shipments, entire gallery rotations, photograph and doc the collection, and a lot much more! But what specifically is collections management?

The collections management division is made up of many smaller teams, all specializing in various aspects of collections care. Typically, the office consists of a collections supervisor, registrars, art handlers, photographers, and a packing professional. Jointly they are liable for all aspects of art motion and oversight — from moving a single painting out of storage to shipping and delivery an overall exhibition across the environment!


There are various registrars operating in the section, every single focusing on a distinct part of the task. The do the job of a registrar is generally coordinating info and maintaining records for the museum, as effectively as being on the entrance line for any logistical areas regarding the operates of art. As you can imagine, this is a monumental endeavor and will have to be divided among the many folks.

At the CMA, there are 4 distinctive varieties of registrars.

Exhibition registrars control relations with other museums and creditors when a exclusive exhibition is on perspective at the museum, these kinds of as Tales of the Town: Drawing in the Netherlands from Bosch to Bruegel, Impressionism to Modernism: the Keithley Assortment, and the exhibitions at present on watch in collaboration with Front Global. Exhibition registrars coordinate each and every logistical detail of the procedure when the CMA borrows functions of art from one more institution, personal loan company, or artist. The method commences by helping the curator of the exhibition with generating official requests to the probable financial institution and answering questions that the loan company may well have when sending their home to the museum. Just after the official bank loan requests are authorized and processed, the registrars start to organize shipping and delivery preparations so that the perform of art arrives safely and on time for exhibit. The moment the artwork has arrived at the museum, the registrar oversees the entire unpacking and best set up in the gallery or exhibition hall. You can imagine the complexity when normally a lot more than 100 objects are sent to the museum, from a lot of museums and loan companies, for just a single exhibition! Not to mention owning to continue to be inside of funds, help couriers, and hold a sharp eye on lawful prerequisites! Oh my!

The other facet of the coin is registrar for loans, who arranges for the works of art at the CMA to travel the earth and introduce many nationwide and intercontinental audiences to our amazing assortment! The registrar for loans should obtain responses and area worries from leadership, curators, and conservation professionals right before notifying a different establishment no matter whether its bank loan request has been authorized. Our registrar for financial loans arranges and cares for the functions of artwork leaving the museum, doing work carefully with our packing professional to make sure that each and every piece of art is shielded through vacation.

All fingers on deck! It took 10 employees associates to pack Monet’s H2o Lilies (Agapanthus) to journey on bank loan to Paris. This group incorporates artwork handlers, registrars, a packing expert, and our colleagues from the conservation division. The work is now on look at at the Fondation Louis Vuitton’s Monet — Mitchell exhibition: https://www.fondationlouisvuitton.fr/en/events/claude-monet-joan-mitchell

The registrar for acquisitions and very long-phrase loans is liable for artworks that are becoming considered for or entering the assortment. This registrar need to communicate with galleries and donors to convey these performs of art to the museum so that curators and conservation can examine the pieces much more carefully and existing the operates to the board of trustees for the duration of acquisition meetings. Need to the museum decide to receive a new perform of artwork, the registrar is then charged with coordinating the purchase and completing all necessary paperwork, transport arrangements, contract agreements, numbering, and powering-the-scenes database administration to carry the artwork to the museum for guests to get pleasure from!

Assistant Registrar Jacob Emmett applies an item number to an artwork using conservation-protected procedures. This quantity allows monitor the locale of the artwork and is employed to pull up all connected information and facts in our databases that back links to Assortment Online.

Lastly there is the assortment manager and registrar, accountable for keeping the permanent assortment that is normally housed in the museum and remains possibly on see in our galleries or in storage. This registrar operates with leadership and curators to ensure that the galleries are generally in leading type and all set to current to our site visitors. In addition to setting up do the job in the galleries, this registrar should care for and keep the collection structured as properly, creating confident that our artwork storage and collections treatment is often conference and exceeding market criteria for straightforward place, servicing, and accessibility to our incredible selection.

Art Handlers

The six artwork handlers operating at the CMA are dependable for all artwork movement and gallery and exhibition installations at the museum. Just about every working day the artwork handlers make use of their merged awareness of resources, products, components, set up procedures, and dealing with skills to make sure that the collection is generally protected and accessible to readers although on look at. When they are not installing in the galleries, the artwork handlers aid with delivering artwork to the images studio to be digitized for inclusion in Collection On-line, to the conservation lab for treatment method, to the research rooms for curatorial and selection investigation, and additional. Check out out the Meet the Personnel portion in our associates journal, Cleveland Art, to study extra about this group.

Users of the artwork handling group reinstall the Paul J. and Edith Ingalls Vignos gallery of British artwork (203A). Each individual installation necessitates considerate organizing and interaction to guarantee absolutely everyone moves jointly as just one unit. This is especially significant when hefty devices this sort of as scissor lifts are employed.


The CMA is privileged to have an in-home packing expert who is perfectly versed in the most latest packing solutions and products needed to safely ship artwork. No matter whether it’s for three miles down the road by truck or 3,000 miles by air, each and every piece is assessed for custom packing. We use only archival, shock-absorbent elements that reduce probable problems triggered by motion, vibration, and off-gassing from other unstable packing supplies.


Photography performs an integral part in the museum, not only for our very own reference and documentation but also for the general public to be ready to access our outstanding selection on our web page from any where in the globe. The museum maintains a condition-of-the-artwork photographic studio capable of dealing with the a lot of new sorts of visualization afforded by the introduction of digital and computational imaging. It is staffed by three very knowledgeable and gifted photographers with diverse locations of experience, and an office environment supervisor who handles scheduling and disseminating the studio’s illustrations or photos wherever they are wanted. In creating imaging of our selection objects for our Collection On-line, their perform delivers a window to the environment, illustrating the breadth and depth of the CMA’s environment-course selection. The studio operates closely with our curatorial personnel to support in scholarly research as perfectly as with our conservation office to assist their efforts in collections treatment. They also produce imaging to exclusively boost our exhibitions.

Do you ponder the place we get all the astounding illustrations or photos of our environment-renowned selection? The CMA photographers skillfully seize the most effective digital sights of every artwork. Examine out the CMA’s Selection On the web for a digital go to and see all your favorite artworks in stunning element!

Keep tuned for future posts from the Collections Administration crew!