June 21, 2024


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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 take a look at the Cleveland Museum of Art, have you at any time considered about who cares for the amazing assortment? With much more than 64,000 objects spanning nearly 6,000 decades of inventive achievement, the CMA’s Collections Management crew will work challenging each and every day to put in exhibitions, coordinate art shipments, finish gallery rotations, photograph and doc the assortment, and a lot a lot more! But what just is collections management?

The collections management department is produced up of numerous smaller teams, all specializing in distinctive features of collections care. Generally, the department consists of a collections supervisor, registrars, art handlers, photographers, and a packing expert. Jointly they are accountable for all features of art movement and oversight — from relocating just one portray out of storage to shipping an full exhibition throughout the environment!


There are numerous registrars working in the division, each individual concentrating on a unique factor of the occupation. The operate of a registrar is predominantly coordinating information and facts and preserving information for the museum, as well as becoming on the front line for any logistical areas pertaining to the is effective of art. As you can visualize, this is a monumental undertaking and need to be divided among the many people today.

At the CMA, there are 4 distinct forms of registrars.

Exhibition registrars control relations with other museums and lenders when a distinctive exhibition is on perspective at the museum, these types of as Tales of the City: Drawing in the Netherlands from Bosch to Bruegel, Impressionism to Modernism: the Keithley Selection, and the exhibitions at the moment on watch in collaboration with Front Global. Exhibition registrars coordinate each and every logistical depth of the approach when the CMA borrows will work of art from one more institution, private lender, or artist. The method begins by assisting the curator of the exhibition with producing formal requests to the probable lender and answering thoughts that the loan provider could have when sending their residence to the museum. Just after the formal financial loan requests are accredited and processed, the registrars start out to manage delivery preparations so that the work of art comes safely and securely and on time for exhibit. At the time the artwork has arrived at the museum, the registrar oversees the whole unpacking and greatest installation in the gallery or exhibition hall. You can think about the complexity when normally additional than 100 objects are despatched to the museum, from lots of museums and lenders, for just 1 exhibition! Not to point out owning to keep within price range, assist couriers, and hold a sharp eye on lawful specifications! Oh my!

The other facet of the coin is registrar for financial loans, who arranges for the operates of artwork at the CMA to vacation the entire world and introduce a variety of nationwide and global audiences to our astounding assortment! The registrar for loans should obtain responses and subject considerations from leadership, curators, and conservation experts in advance of notifying yet another institution no matter if its personal loan ask for has been approved. Our registrar for loans arranges and cares for the operates of art leaving the museum, working closely with our packing professional to make sure that each piece of artwork is guarded all through travel.

All arms on deck! It took 10 staff members to pack Monet’s H2o Lilies (Agapanthus) to journey on loan to Paris. This group contains art handlers, registrars, a packing professional, and our colleagues from the conservation division. The work is now on watch at the Fondation Louis Vuitton’s Monet — Mitchell exhibition: https://www.fondationlouisvuitton.fr/en/functions/claude-monet-joan-mitchell

The registrar for acquisitions and extensive-time period financial loans is accountable for artworks that are currently being considered for or moving into the collection. This registrar must talk with galleries and donors to convey these operates of art to the museum so that curators and conservation can study the pieces extra carefully and present the performs to the board of trustees during acquisition conferences. Ought to the museum determine to purchase a new do the job of artwork, the registrar is then charged with coordinating the purchase and completing all vital paperwork, delivery preparations, agreement agreements, numbering, and powering-the-scenes databases administration to convey the artwork to the museum for people to get pleasure from!

Assistant Registrar Jacob Emmett applies an object quantity to an artwork making use of conservation-risk-free solutions. This range will help track the area of the artwork and is employed to pull up all associated data in our databases that links to Collection On line.

Ultimately there is the assortment supervisor and registrar, responsible for sustaining the long term selection that is normally housed in the museum and remains both on view in our galleries or in storage. This registrar will work with leadership and curators to guarantee that the galleries are often in major kind and all set to existing to our site visitors. In addition to installing operate in the galleries, this registrar should care for and maintain the assortment arranged as well, creating positive that our art storage and collections treatment is usually meeting and exceeding field benchmarks for effortless area, upkeep, and accessibility to our extraordinary assortment.

Art Handlers

The six art handlers operating at the CMA are responsible for all artwork movement and gallery and exhibition installations at the museum. Each individual day the art handlers benefit from their blended awareness of instruments, products, components, installation approaches, and managing capabilities to ensure that the assortment is often safe and accessible to visitors though on check out. When they are not setting up in the galleries, the artwork handlers aid with delivering artwork to the pictures studio to be digitized for inclusion in Collection On the internet, to the conservation lab for remedy, to the examine rooms for curatorial and collection study, and much more. Check out out the Meet the Employees section in our members magazine, Cleveland Art, to go through more about this team.

Associates of the art dealing with group reinstall the Paul J. and Edith Ingalls Vignos gallery of British artwork (203A). Each and every set up necessitates considerate setting up and communication to assure all people moves jointly as a person device. This is specifically vital when significant products these as scissor lifts are utilised.


The CMA is lucky to have an in-property packing professional who is perfectly versed in the most current packing procedures and supplies expected to safely ship artwork. No matter whether it’s for 3 miles down the road by truck or 3,000 miles by air, every single piece is assessed for custom packing. We use only archival, shock-absorbent supplies that cut down attainable harm caused by motion, vibration, and off-gassing from other unstable packing materials.


Photography plays an integral function in the museum, not only for our individual reference and documentation but also for the community to be in a position to accessibility our outstanding assortment on our internet site from anyplace in the planet. The museum maintains a condition-of-the-art photographic studio capable of dealing with the a lot of new types of visualization afforded by the advent of electronic and computational imaging. It is staffed by three very expert and gifted photographers with different regions of knowledge, and an business supervisor who handles scheduling and disseminating the studio’s photographs where by they are wanted. In generating imaging of our collection objects for our Assortment On the net, their operate gives a window to the entire world, illustrating the breadth and depth of the CMA’s globe-course collection. The studio will work intently with our curatorial workers to support in scholarly exploration as well as with our conservation section to assist their attempts in collections care. They also make imaging to precisely improve our exhibitions.

Do you wonder the place we get all the remarkable visuals of our globe-renowned assortment? The CMA photographers skillfully capture the very best digital sights of each individual artwork. Look at out the CMA’s Assortment On the net for a digital check out and see all your favorite artworks in beautiful depth!

Stay tuned for long run posts from the Collections Management staff!