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A collection manager ensures the proper care and preservation of objects within cultural institutions such as museums, libraries, and archives. Collection managers, along with registrars, curators, and conservators, play an important role in collections care. Collection Managers and Registrars are two distinct collection roles that are often combined into one within small to mid-size cultural institutions. Collection Managers can be found in large museums and those with a history and natural history focus whose diverse collections require experienced assessment to properly sort, catalog, and store artifacts.[1] A collection manager may oversee the registrar, archivist, curator, photographer, or other collection professionals, and may assume the responsibilities of these roles in their absence within an organization.[2]

Differences between collection managers and registrars

Collection managers are responsible for the long-term preservation of collections.[3] They oversee the physical care of objects and form the hands-on problem-solving component of a collections team. Collection managers work collaboratively with registrars, who are document-oriented and responsible for risk management of the collection. Registrars maintain facility reports, contracts, and legal records associated with acquisitions, inventory, incoming and outgoing loans, shipping, and insurance. They must keep current with national and international regulations and procedures as they work with custom agents and brokers to acquire security, custom permits, insurance coverage, government indemnity, and requests for immunity from judicial seizure.[4]

Responsibilities and duties

Storage of Peruvian ceramics at the Larco Museum

Collection managers work in cooperation with curators, registrars, conservators, art handlers, exhibit fabricators, mount makers, facilities managers, security, and housekeeping. They are responsible for establishing and maintaining high standards of collections care, from acquisition to conservation to display.[5] Depending on the institution, collection managers may by tasked with drawing up a departmental budget, providing expenditure projections, and if necessary, raising funds in the form of grant writing.

  • Acquisition: During acquisition consideration, the collection manager must research the object, determine its fit within the collection, ensure there are available resources for its care, and in the absence of a registrar, establish the object's provenance. Once acquired, the collection manager begins the accession process by carefully examining the object and classifying it based on the institution's specific guidelines. Classification terms are drawn from an ordered system of categories and can vary from one institution to another. The purpose of classification is to provide order within a collection by grouping objects with similar characteristics such as form, shape, material, function, use, or social context.[6] The object is then given a unique identifying number, tying it to all related records. Next, the object is carefully measured, photographed, and described in a detailed condition report.
  • Object Care: Proper collections care, or preventative conservation, is imperative to the welfare of objects by avoiding and minimizing deterioration and loss.[7] Collection managers are responsible for proper object handling and for instructing/supervising other staff member

    Collection managers are responsible for the long-term preservation of collections.[3] They oversee the physical care of objects and form the hands-on problem-solving component of a collections team. Collection managers work collaboratively with registrars, who are document-oriented and responsible for risk management of the collection. Registrars maintain facility reports, contracts, and legal records associated with acquisitions, inventory, incoming and outgoing loans, shipping, and insurance. They must keep current with national and international regulations and procedures as they work with custom agents and brokers to acquire security, custom permits, insurance coverage, government indemnity, and requests for immunity from judicial seizure.[4]

    Responsibilities and duties

    Storage of Peruvian ceramics at the Larco Museum

    Collection managers work in cooperation with curators, registrars, conservators, art handlers, exhibit fabricators, mount makers, facilities managers, security, and housekeeping. They are responsible for establishing and maintaining high standards of collections care, from acquisition to conservation to display.[5] Depending on the institution, collection managers may by tasked with drawing up a departmental budget, providing expenditure projections, and if necessary, raising funds in the form of grant writing.

    • Acquisition: During acquisition consideration, the collection manager must research the object, determine its fit within the collection, ensure there are available resources for its care, and in the absence of a registrar, establish the object's provenance. Once acquired, the collection manager begins the accession process by carefully examining the object and classifying it based on the institution's specific guidelines. Classification terms are drawn from an ordered system of categories and can vary from one institution to another. The purpose of classification is to provide order within

      Collection managers work in cooperation with curators, registrars, conservators, art handlers, exhibit fabricators, mount makers, facilities managers, security, and housekeeping. They are responsible for establishing and maintaining high standards of collections care, from acquisition to conservation to display.[5] Depending on the institution, collection managers may by tasked with drawing up a departmental budget, providing expenditure projections, and if necessary, raising funds in the form of grant writing.

      • Acquisition: During acquisition consideration, the collection manager must research the object, determine its fit within the collection, ensure there are available resources for its care, and in the absence of a registrar, establish the object's provenance. Once acquired, the collection manager begins the accession process by carefully examining the object and classifying it based on the institution's specific guidelines. Classification terms are drawn from an ordered system of categories and can vary from one institution to another. The purpose of classification is to provide order within a collection by grouping objects with similar characteristics such as form, shape, material, function, use, or social context.[6] The object is then given a unique identifying number, tying it to all related records. Next, the object is carefully measured, photographed, and described in a

        There are specific skills, abilities, and areas of knowledge necessary for collection managers. All collection managers must be skilled in object handling, able to accurately identify objects, artifacts, and specimens within their institution's collection, and have knowledge of preventative conservation methods and procedures. It is essential that collection managers are educated about the organization, arrangement, and nomenclature of objects, artifacts, and specimens in their field of interest.[15] Collection managers also need to be knowledgeable about collection management software for cataloging and record keeping.

        Education and training (experience)

        Most institutions require collection managers to have an undergraduate degree in their specialty area such as art, history, or archeology.[16] According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, from 2012 - 2022 archivists, curators, and museum workers "should expect very strong competition for jobs" with a projected growth rate of only 11 percent.[17] In this competitive field, a master's degree in the institution's area of focus, museum studies, or library/information science is preferred.

        Internships and volunteer work in libraries, museums, and archives is the best way to acquire hands-on collection management experience. Whether paid or unpaid, experience with object/artifact handling, processing, cataloging, preservation, packing, storage, inventory, fabrication, and collection management software is essential.[18] Experience or training in conservation would be an added bonus, especially to small museums with limited resources.

        Professional organizations

        There are numerous professional organizations of interest to collection managers and other museum professionals. These organizations provide opportunities to network, share information, and participate in continuing education.

        Related positions

        In small to mid-size museums, collection managers might be referred to as "registrar," or the curator might be in charge of object care and record keeping.[19]

        See also

        References

        1. ^ Glaser, Jane; Zenetou, Artemis (1996). Museums: A Place to Work. New York, NY: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-12724-6.