Mike Boehm of the LA Times files this report on Culture Monster about the recent dismissal of the Head of Collections, Robert Hollister:
Museum registrars and collections managers typically are responsible for ensuring that all items are properly identified, catalogued and stored and that they are handled safely whenever they have to be moved. They update provenance records — the history of where an artwork originated, who has owned it and where it has been displayed — and supervise the shipping and receiving of works that are being loaned to other museums, or that have been sent as loans from other collections. The registrar’s portfolio includes such specialized knowledge as being conversant with customs laws and the intricacies of insuring artworks in transit.
Boehm quotes Jacqueline Cabrera on the trend of museums to make do without registrars to cut the budget:
“It’s an epidemic we’ve been seeing that we haven’t seen before. It’s disturbing, because these are the main people who manage the collections,” said Cabrera, a registrar at the Getty Villa near Malibu. “I was always amazed at how small the [registrars] staff at MOCA was, in terms of their very ambitious program” of exhibitions, she added. As museums cut back on exhibitions and look to reduce staff, Cabrera said, registrars’ jobs figure to become more vulnerable because much of their work involves being the “travel agents” of the museum world, making sure that delicate and expensive pieces get proper accommodations and move safely from destination to destination.
Head of MoCA Collection Department Exits (Culture Monster)