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 Art, have you at any time thought about who cares for the amazing collection? With the collection spanning nearly 6,000 decades of artistic accomplishment, the CMA’s Collections Management crew works tricky every day to put in exhibitions, coordinate artwork shipments, total gallery rotations, photograph and doc the assortment, and a lot much more! But what particularly is collections administration?

The collections management office is created up of numerous more compact groups, all specializing in various elements of collections treatment. Commonly, the section is composed of a collections manager, registrars, artwork handlers, photographers, and a packing specialist. With each other they are liable for all factors of art movement and oversight — from going one painting out of storage to delivery an total exhibition throughout the entire world!


There are various registrars functioning in the department, just about every concentrating on a distinctive factor of the position. The get the job done of a registrar is largely coordinating information and retaining information for the museum, as perfectly as being on the front line for any logistical features concerning the performs of artwork. As you can visualize, this is a monumental job and have to be divided amongst various persons.

At the CMA, there are four distinctive forms of registrars.

Exhibition registrars handle relations with other museums and loan providers when a specific exhibition is on watch at the museum, this sort of as Tales of the Metropolis: Drawing in the Netherlands from Bosch to Bruegel, Impressionism to Modernism: the Keithley Collection, and the exhibitions currently on check out in collaboration with Front Global. Exhibition registrars coordinate each and every logistical depth of the process when the CMA borrows performs of art from one more institution, private loan company, or artist. The course of action commences by assisting the curator of the exhibition with earning official requests to the probable loan provider and answering queries that the lender may have when sending their residence to the museum. Just after the formal financial loan requests are authorised and processed, the registrars start off to arrange shipping arrangements so that the operate of art arrives safely and securely and on time for display screen. Once the artwork has arrived at the museum, the registrar oversees the whole unpacking and supreme installation in the gallery or exhibition corridor. You can imagine the complexity when typically much more than 100 objects are sent to the museum, from quite a few museums and loan companies, for just just one exhibition! Not to mention possessing to continue to be in just spending budget, guide couriers, and hold a sharp eye on legal necessities! Oh my!

The other side of the coin is registrar for financial loans, who arranges for the functions of artwork at the CMA to journey the entire world and introduce various nationwide and global audiences to our incredible collection! The registrar for financial loans have to obtain feed-back and subject concerns from leadership, curators, and conservation experts before notifying an additional institution no matter if its financial loan ask for has been authorized. Our registrar for loans arranges and cares for the is effective of art leaving the museum, doing work intently with our packing professional to make sure that every single piece of artwork is guarded all through journey.

All arms on deck! It took 10 employees associates to pack Monet’s Drinking water Lilies (Agapanthus) to journey on personal loan to Paris. This team incorporates artwork handlers, registrars, a packing professional, and our colleagues from the conservation division. The get the job done is now on look at at the Fondation Louis Vuitton’s Monet — Mitchell exhibition:

The registrar for acquisitions and extensive-phrase financial loans is liable for artworks that are currently being viewed as for or moving into the assortment. This registrar need to communicate with galleries and donors to carry these works of artwork to the museum so that curators and conservation can take a look at the parts a lot more closely and existing the performs to the board of trustees in the course of acquisition conferences. Should the museum choose to obtain a new do the job of artwork, the registrar is then charged with coordinating the purchase and completing all important paperwork, delivery preparations, contract agreements, numbering, and at the rear of-the-scenes database management to convey the artwork to the museum for site visitors to delight in!

Assistant Registrar Jacob Emmett applies an object selection to an artwork utilizing conservation-safe and sound approaches. This variety aids keep track of the site of the artwork and is employed to pull up all connected info in our databases that links to Collection On the web.

Lastly there is the collection manager and registrar, dependable for sustaining the long lasting collection that is generally housed in the museum and continues to be both on view in our galleries or in storage. This registrar operates with management and curators to make certain that the galleries are often in top rated type and ready to present to our guests. In addition to installing get the job done in the galleries, this registrar must treatment for and maintain the assortment structured as very well, producing positive that our artwork storage and collections care is normally assembly and exceeding industry requirements for straightforward area, maintenance, and accessibility to our extraordinary assortment.

Art Handlers

The 6 artwork handlers operating at the CMA are liable for all artwork motion and gallery and exhibition installations at the museum. Each day the art handlers employ their merged information of instruments, machines, hardware, installation approaches, and dealing with capabilities to ensure that the selection is generally secure and obtainable to guests although on see. When they’re not setting up in the galleries, the artwork handlers assist with offering artwork to the photography studio to be digitized for inclusion in Collection On-line, to the conservation lab for therapy, to the analyze rooms for curatorial and selection research, and a lot more. Test out the Meet up with the Staff members portion in our associates magazine, Cleveland Artwork, to read through much more about this staff.

Members of the art dealing with workforce reinstall the Paul J. and Edith Ingalls Vignos gallery of British art (203A). Each individual set up needs considerate setting up and communication to be certain absolutely everyone moves alongside one another as a person unit. This is specially essential when heavy equipment this sort of as scissor lifts are used.


The CMA is lucky to have an in-dwelling packing specialist who is effectively versed in the most present-day packing solutions and materials required to properly ship artwork. Irrespective of whether it is for 3 miles down the road by truck or 3,000 miles by air, every single piece is assessed for personalized packing. We use only archival, shock-absorbent supplies that lessen probable injury caused by movement, vibration, and off-gassing from other unstable packing supplies.


Pictures plays an integral position in the museum, not only for our personal reference and documentation but also for the public to be capable to obtain our amazing collection on our web site from everywhere in the environment. The museum maintains a state-of-the-artwork photographic studio capable of handling the numerous new sorts of visualization afforded by the advent of digital and computational imaging. It is staffed by 3 really seasoned and talented photographers with different places of expertise, and an office supervisor who handles scheduling and disseminating the studio’s illustrations or photos exactly where they are necessary. In developing imaging of our assortment objects for our Collection Online, their perform offers a window to the planet, illustrating the breadth and depth of the CMA’s entire world-class selection. The studio works closely with our curatorial workers to aid in scholarly study as effectively as with our conservation section to enable their attempts in collections treatment. They also make imaging to exclusively improve our exhibitions.

Do you marvel where we get all the amazing illustrations or photos of our environment-renowned selection? The CMA photographers skillfully capture the finest electronic sights of every artwork. Look at out the CMA’s Selection On the net for a virtual pay a visit to and see all your favorite artworks in magnificent detail!

Keep tuned for foreseeable future posts from the Collections Management crew!

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