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

By Sydney Slacas, Assistant Registrar

When you pay a visit to the Cleveland Museum of Art, have you ever believed about who cares for the incredible selection? With more than 64,000 objects spanning nearly 6,000 decades of inventive accomplishment, the CMA’s Collections Management team is effective difficult just about every day to install exhibitions, coordinate art shipments, finish gallery rotations, photograph and document the collection, and a great deal a lot more! But what just is collections management?

The collections administration office is made up of various smaller teams, all specializing in unique factors of collections care. Generally, the department consists of a collections supervisor, registrars, art handlers, photographers, and a packing expert. Collectively they are dependable for all aspects of artwork motion and oversight — from relocating a person painting out of storage to shipping an full exhibition throughout the environment!


There are a number of registrars functioning in the section, every single focusing on a distinctive part of the occupation. The get the job done of a registrar is generally coordinating data and retaining records for the museum, as effectively as remaining on the entrance line for any logistical features regarding the works of artwork. As you can envision, this is a monumental process and need to be divided between various men and women.

At the CMA, there are 4 different sorts of registrars.

Exhibition registrars control relations with other museums and lenders when a special 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 Selection, and the exhibitions now on see in collaboration with Front Worldwide. Exhibition registrars coordinate just about every logistical depth of the system when the CMA borrows performs of artwork from an additional institution, private lender, or artist. The method starts by assisting the curator of the exhibition with earning formal requests to the potential financial institution and answering inquiries that the loan provider might have when sending their property to the museum. After the formal loan requests are accepted and processed, the registrars get started to organize shipping and delivery arrangements so that the operate of art comes safely and securely and on time for exhibit. As soon as the artwork has arrived at the museum, the registrar oversees the total unpacking and final installation in the gallery or exhibition hall. You can think about the complexity when frequently more than 100 objects are sent to the museum, from many museums and creditors, for just 1 exhibition! Not to mention possessing to keep in spending plan, support couriers, and keep a sharp eye on authorized requirements! Oh my!

The other side of the coin is registrar for loans, who arranges for the functions of art at the CMA to vacation the globe and introduce many national and global audiences to our incredible assortment! The registrar for financial loans will have to acquire feedback and area fears from management, curators, and conservation experts just before notifying a different establishment regardless of whether its financial loan ask for has been authorized. Our registrar for loans arranges and cares for the operates of art leaving the museum, doing the job carefully with our packing specialist to make absolutely sure that every piece of art is safeguarded for the duration of journey.

All palms on deck! It took 10 team users to pack Monet’s H2o Lilies (Agapanthus) to journey on financial loan to Paris. This group consists of art handlers, registrars, a packing specialist, and our colleagues from the conservation office. The perform is now on look at at the Fondation Louis Vuitton’s Monet — Mitchell exhibition:

The registrar for acquisitions and prolonged-time period loans is accountable for artworks that are getting regarded as for or moving into the selection. This registrar have to converse with galleries and donors to convey these performs of art to the museum so that curators and conservation can look at the parts far more closely and existing the functions to the board of trustees all through acquisition meetings. Need to the museum decide to get a new get the job done of artwork, the registrar is then billed with coordinating the purchase and completing all important paperwork, shipping and delivery arrangements, deal agreements, numbering, and guiding-the-scenes database administration to bring the art to the museum for readers to love!

Assistant Registrar Jacob Emmett applies an item variety to an artwork applying conservation-safe and sound solutions. This selection helps observe the site of the artwork and is utilised to pull up all linked information in our databases that hyperlinks to Assortment On the internet.

Ultimately there is the assortment manager and registrar, responsible for retaining the permanent selection that is constantly housed in the museum and remains possibly on check out in our galleries or in storage. This registrar functions with leadership and curators to guarantee that the galleries are usually in top rated variety and ready to present to our people. In addition to installing work in the galleries, this registrar ought to care for and hold the selection structured as very well, earning absolutely sure that our artwork storage and collections treatment is normally meeting and exceeding business benchmarks for quick place, upkeep, and entry to our remarkable collection.

Art Handlers

The 6 artwork handlers working at the CMA are responsible for all art movement and gallery and exhibition installations at the museum. Every single working day the artwork handlers make the most of their blended knowledge of applications, products, components, set up tactics, and dealing with expertise to assure that the assortment is often secure and obtainable to people although on look at. When they’re not installing in the galleries, the artwork handlers aid with offering artwork to the pictures studio to be digitized for inclusion in Assortment On the internet, to the conservation lab for cure, to the analyze rooms for curatorial and selection investigation, and more. Test out the Meet up with the Team part in our customers magazine, Cleveland Art, to browse extra about this crew.

Customers of the art dealing with group reinstall the Paul J. and Edith Ingalls Vignos gallery of British art (203A). Each installation requires thoughtful preparing and interaction to ensure every person moves together as a single unit. This is specifically critical when major machines these as scissor lifts are used.


The CMA is fortuitous to have an in-home packing specialist who is effectively versed in the most present-day packing approaches and products expected to safely ship artwork. No matter if it is for a few miles down the highway by truck or 3,000 miles by air, just about every piece is assessed for tailor made packing. We use only archival, shock-absorbent elements that decrease feasible injury brought about by movement, vibration, and off-gassing from other unstable packing elements.


Images performs an integral position in the museum, not only for our possess reference and documentation but also for the general public to be in a position to entry our outstanding selection on our site from everywhere in the world. The museum maintains a condition-of-the-artwork photographic studio able of handling the a lot of new sorts of visualization afforded by the introduction of digital and computational imaging. It is staffed by 3 remarkably professional and talented photographers with various areas of know-how, and an office manager who handles scheduling and disseminating the studio’s images where by they are essential. In making imaging of our selection objects for our Collection On the internet, their function gives a window to the earth, illustrating the breadth and depth of the CMA’s environment-class selection. The studio operates closely with our curatorial employees to assist in scholarly study as nicely as with our conservation division to enable their efforts in collections care. They also develop imaging to particularly boost our exhibitions.

Do you question in which we get all the wonderful visuals of our environment-renowned selection? The CMA photographers skillfully seize the finest digital sights of just about every artwork. Examine out the CMA’s Collection Online for a virtual stop by and see all your favorite artworks in beautiful detail!

Keep tuned for foreseeable future posts from the Collections Administration group!