Category Archives: Articles

Registering furniture and appliances: contemporary art (video-sculptures, multimedia, installations)

With the typical humor of a registrar we could introduce the amusing but serious working hypothesis that registering some contemporary art involves dealing with appliances and furniture. But actually, the artist’s talent has found new ways that transcend the search for originality and pleasure of modern art and modifies them into other, dynamic forms of sensitivity, communication and stimulation of the senses.


Artistic installation on the communication between a couple (Museum for Communication, Berlin). (picture: dalbera from Paris).

So let’s reformulate the hypothesis: these artistic approaches are much more than furniture and appliances. Ergo, to register these works is much more than documenting furniture and appliances. Once they enter a museum collection, they have other implications for the registrar, as well as the curators and the conservators are faced with new challenges. Actually, the registrar is closely linked to the conservation and curatorial instances.


Jean-Louis Boissier. Globus oculi. Interactive video-installation, 1992-1993.

Pipiloti Rist

Himalaya Goldsteins Stube, (Himalaya Goldstein’s Living Room), 1999
Audio/video installation with 13 video projections, 11 players, orange seat, red sofa, desk lamp, high sideboard, low sideboard, chair, table and bar (all with built in players), lamps, wallpaper mounted on wood, audio system, 4 speakers. (Installation by Pipilotti Rist, view at Kunsthalle Zürich, Zurich; photo by Alexander Tröhler)
This work is a registrar’s delight …

To the point: what is contemporary art?

There are artworks stylistically classified as “contemporary art”, and among them I will talk about the installations, sculptures, video, multimedia, space interventions, ephemeral art and performances. Defined by the time of creation (after the 1960’s) and other speeches, communication, (re) signification, spatiality, context, they are different from modern art, and break previous aesthetic codes.
Modern art has particular implications, but contemporary art has more technical and technological implications, aesthetic, and conceptual significance: it must be registered as an object in an expanded context.

The registrar requires additional criteria for proper registration, cataloging, documentation and control of this art when it becomes part of a museum collection. For these works of art, the classical concept of “technical data” is far too limited. Contemporary art has additional issues that have to be detected and incorporated into the process of extended registration and get recognized in the data base: labels (tags) and controlled terminologies, fields for free text to add “non-controlled” definitions, taxonomies and folksonomies, conceptual references, indications and aspirations of the artists, measurement that need more advanced measurement technologies than a folding rule, specific requirements of storage and installation, etc. These additional criteria allow better coverage of the material dimension through its extended technical data, and the abstract dimension through its potential meanings. Manuals have been published for the registration of these goods: in Latin America edited by Dirección de Bibliotecas, Archivos y Museos DIBAM of Chile, and Colombian Ministry of Cultura COLCULTURA of Colombia; in Canada by institutions such as the Canadian Heritage Information Network (CHIN) and in Spain by the Subdirección General de Museos Estatales (State Board of Museums), among others.

A registrar for contemporary art

For years, I referred to the registrar of collections as a pre-curator and re-powered. This is the leading professional that manages paper and digital files, that computerizes linear search records of typed text so they become nonlinear hypertext information which allows extended and better research. This registrar registers the technical data of objects with appropriate criteria, which will incorporate those aspects of extended information plus certain levels of meaning, relationship and contextualization. This breadth of registration is required because such objects are cultural creations, and these elements of meaning-relation are also part of the technical data of an enhanced registration. So, a registrar that is a re-powered pre-curator relates more actively with the curatorial instances, without invading other spaces, but enhancing his own in the museum. This is an important step with which the registrar is no longer just the scriptwriter of technical information, and it encourages him / her to exercise more capabilities and criteria. If you read some “classic” texts on registration, written thirty years ago you will perceive some differences: in the last paragraph of the original Spanish text of Concha Vela entitled “El Departamento de registro del MoMA” [Registration Department of the MoMA] written in the 1980’s, you will read that “the Registrar must deal with the physical aspects of the art, not the aesthetics”. But beware! In contemporary art the aesthetic aspects not simply refer to the “beautiful”, they also refer to the languages of art, their codes, their meanings, their senses. The material and the abstract are inseparable here.

"bfgf" by Nam Jun Paik. Imagine registering each and every monitor! (picture: Patrick Denker)

“bfgf” by Nam June Paik. Imagine registering each and every monitor! (picture: Patrick Denker)

The registrar as a pre-curator registers art objects, their meanings and aesthetic, as part of expanded technical data. And for contemporary art, he / she records the televisions, computers, media players, chairs and tables that such installations or settings consist of, as well as their contexts. But the registrar must not register only those materials and technical components of a work of contemporary art. Registering contemporary art (not in the sense of “fine arts”) implies to register objects as “artistic unborn.” He must also register purely virtual art (or born-digital), not material, that “doesn’t exist” if there is no computer, software and a monitor to play it.

So how and what will we register?

In the edition of the 2010 Turner Prize, art critics and artists in the UK have honored Susan Philipsz. The winning work is a video in which she sings traditional Scottish songs, in three scenes, each under a different bridge in the city of London. You can see this video, “Songs of the City“, on Youtube. The video is owned by the Tate Gallery in London.

Now, if that same work arrives at our office in the registrar’s department, how do we proceed and what will register? A video? A musical recording? An installation? A virtual or ephemeral art? A landscape “Bridges in the city” or “The River Thames”? What will be their “image” as a work, one or all photograms? What are the technical requirements for playback? What are the physical dimensions and should these include the three-dimensional space of “installation”? Does the work “include” a DVD player, a monitor or a CD? And how will we formally correct record this masterpiece? Under what category item should we record it in our catalog? What kind of information fields do we need and are appropriate? What kind of conceptual references or tags do we have? Is it a work of art only when it is being played? Hypothesis, please!
Different, but with additional implications is the installation (which does not consist of televisions, computers, cables, monitors) of Joseph Beuys: The end of the twentieth century, 1982-83, exhibited in the Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin.

(picture: Velvet)

Beuys: The end of the twentieth century. 1982-83 (picture: Velvet)

Let us review the concept of Installation (contemporary art). Wikipedia says: “Installation art can be either temporary or permanent. Installation artworks have been constructed in exhibition spaces such as museums and galleries, as well as public and private spaces. The genre incorporates a broad range of everyday and natural materials, which are often chosen for their ‘evocative’ qualities, as well as new media such as video, sound, performance, immersive virtual reality and the internet. Many installations are site-specific in that they are designed to exist only in the space for which they were created”. This shows that installations have features that must be addressed as a new issue for the conservator-restorer, the curator, and of course the registrar: it is a clash with common ways and procedures established for artworks, may they be modern, ancient or traditional. And they also show the need to update our collections criteria as registrars.

Vieja iglesia. Pared de pan. Instalación de arte efímero

Old church, Amsterdam. Bread wall. Ephemeral art installation (picture: Becky Houtman)

Let us also take a look at video sculpture, multimedia, ephemeral art, installations, conceptual art … Registrars that are pre-curators carry on keeping the paperwork organized, registering the object materials that when combined produce a type of art. We also think about them as cultural-aesthetic objects which makes it necessary to register the senses, aesthetics, communication processes and contexts that are generated from these objects, organized according to the direction given by the artist (that’s what makes art). To do that, we must have professionally updated criteria, without which we simply make “a list” of appliances and furniture materials.

For multimedia art forms (also called mixed media or media art), there is an indispensable site: the Canadian Heritage Information Network (CHIN). One of its materials is entitled “Media Art and Museums: guidelines and case studies”, that is providing a definition of this art and its documentation, conservation and case studies. Also enter
There’s only a thin line between some manifestations of contemporary art, many are very close related. What’s in this guideline helps us when we work with video sculpture, video art or installations containing elements common to all. In the case of ephemeral art we have a big problem, because it does not last. It is art that disappears shortly after being created, and brings conceptual challenges for the registrar: register the object, the concept, a photo, the idea? It helps a lot to be a pre-curator registrar who has thought about this long before the first piece of ephemeral art drops on his desk..

Conservation issues of this art that the registrar must know

A registrar who has to deal with contemporary art in his collection should know the InsideInstallations. It is the website associated with the International Network for the Conservation of Contemporary Art (INCCA) and is headquartered in Amsterdam. It is a network of professionals involved in the conservation of modern and contemporary art. Conservators, curators, scientists, registrars, archivists, historians and researchers are among its members, and have access to unpublished information (interviews with artists, condition reports, instructions for installation, etc.) through its data base Artists Archives. Their contributions are invaluable for this kind of art, and there’s a really good teamwork between the instances of the museum curator, the conservator-restorer and the registrar, who are directly involved with art objects and can address alternatives and contextual issues.

“The Inside Installations: Conservation and Preservation Installation Art was a research project of three years (2004-2007) on the care and management of an art form in which the conservation challenges prevail.” There was edited the recent book Theory and practice in the care of complex artwork. Recall that these are complex artworks and we think about them and proceed with equally complex thinking. The registrar pre-curator is a complex registrar, and should know how to register art objects and their contexts – and apply the appropriate terminology. In the book you can see an example from the Inside-Installation, Installation Revolution, a monument for the television revolution, including a specific report of the Registrar. Also, the “Model for registration data” developed by the Foundation for the Conservation of Modern Art (SBMK) from the Netherlands in 1997).

A registrar updated with this art

A pre-curator registrar must be updated on issues related to contemporary art and its preservation and aesthetic implications. Important events were: About performing documentation in the conservation of contemporary art ; The Meaning of Materials in Modern and Contemporary Art; and the Forging the Future project. As for the almost ethereal nature of the communication dimension, senses, interpretation and context that is part of the work of contemporary art, see the website of this series of lectures given also in the Museo Reina Sofia in Madrid, in March entitled “Repensar el espectador: teoría y crítica de las artes performativas” [“Rethinking the viewer: critical theory and performance art”].


Woman in fridge – 798. (picture: Televiseus)

In essence, the approach developed is one that calls performing arts, which “are exercised, are acting” are no longer just an object or a product of the artist’s creativity, but now become an event in which the viewer is involved in the creation of meaning. The co-creation of meaning is part of the work, which is the subject and context, event, abstract and aesthetic sense, and all this is public, and all that should be registered, the extended and technical data should also be cataloged. These updated criteria are required for registration forms or formats that include documentation of all these variables (and providing additional spaces for information and ways unthinkable at the time of registering), including guest artist requirements incorporating his own expectations and sense and technical requirements, including those of the viewer and their interaction. It also requires a software that includes fields like these and chances of hypertext interaction. And, by the way, what to do with performance art in which the artist is part of the work? Do you “register” him / herself? And with regards to the documentation of this art, it will be important to link with the next event in the Performing Documentation in the Conservation of Contemporary Art, to be held in Lisbon from 20 to 21 June 2013.

Of references, labels and a registrar with an elastic mind

As we have seen, the informational dimensions of our works of contemporary arts include references, concepts, controlled vocabulary, taxonomies, semantics, semiotics, and folksonomies, in short, expanded technical data. They provide many starting points for (re)meanings and (re)interpretations, and should be part of the records and technical data of this type of artwork. They are search terms for the artworks and their contexts. There are exact terms, standardized, simple, with just one significance, appropriate for objects, and there are others that open more senses as they occur in the re-interpretation of art, are complex and imply multiple potential re-meanings, creating an open matrix appropriate for contexts.

For these resources, the registrar must exert his/her mental conceptual structure, be elastic and open multiple connections. It is a hypothesis which is confirmed in our work by recording contemporary art.

That is the appropriate hypothesis!

Fernando Almarza Rísquez

This text is also available in Italian translated by Silvia Telmon.


Appliances, furniture and beyond – registering technological objects

When you work as a registrar you often take for granted that you know what other registrars in other museums do. But when you talk to colleagues from different museum types you often realize that some things are similar and other things are very different. When Fernando told us he was preparing an article on the registration of contemporary art, we accepted the challenge to write one on the registration of technological objects. So, if you are into the arts: let us unfold to you the wonderland of technology. If you are into technology: Look over our shoulders and tell us if we forgot something important.

Registering technological objects: a look on the surface

Blaupunkt (picture)

Blaupunkt Florida from 1954/55 (picture: Eckhard Etzold)

When registering a classical artwork, you normally know the artist and the date of the artwork. You can measure the dimensions and register the technology used in the classical way: oil on canvas, watercolor, lithography… Most of these things can be easily seen with one’s eye, given you have the proper knowledge and training in art history and techniques used by artists – and the whole process of accessioning has gone right. Granted, when something went wrong and you don’t know who painted the artwork, things can become tricky. Then you have to get your registrar’s and art historian’s senses together and start to investigate.

When registering technological objects, that’s just the beginning. Let’s take a simple ancient radio. It has a manufacturer and if you are lucky it is written on the device. It might also come with a type label that provides additional information. If you are very lucky, this label shows the year of construction. But that’s not often the case. So you go and look for old radio catalogs and try to find this type of radio. If you have a good library of ancient mail order catalogs and catalogs for radio retailers you have a good chance to find the year, or more likely years of construction.

If you have no manufacturer and no type label, which isn’t uncommon, the catalogs are also a great place to start your research. Of course, you should have a certain idea from which time span a radio is, otherwise you will have to dig through decades of catalogs. That’s where the art sphere comes in. You can vaguely estimate the years of construction by looking at the design of a radio. But this can fool you, too. For example:

Braun SK2 von 1960 (Bild: Nite_Owl)

Braun Kleinsuper SK2 built similar from 1955 to 1960 (picture: Nite_Owl)

Manufacturer BRAUN developed an incredible clear and functional design, inspired by the Bauhaus movement and in parts developed by professors and students of the famous Ulm School of Design as early as 1955. If you look at certain radios from this period, you would swear they were made deep in the 1960’s. At the same time manufacturers like Grundig produced radios that look a bit like neo-baroque (although, if you take a look at Braun’s SK61 and Grundig’s SO271 both built in 1961 it’s hard to stay neutral and to suppress the urge to tag the latter under „monstrosity“).

So, what do you enter in the data base? In the first place you enter the manufacturer and then, in some rare case, where you can figure it out, the designer. A little upside down situation to the arts world, where it’s common that you have the artist in the first place and only in some cases an additional manufacturer, most commonly a printer.

Staying with the dates: for our design approach can lead us off the track, it’s safer to stay with technology. It gives us great hints to stay in the right era. Some manufacturing techniques are labor-intensive, and therefore point us to early decades: riveting is more labor-intensive than spot-welding, for example. In times of war, economy of scarcity rules and you will realize that on the used materials: a necessity to use materials you don’t have to import and to use as little as possible of them. Speaking of materials, they also give clues for the date: synthetic materials were developed through the last hundred years and are still improved. So were production processes that you can trace on the object: injection molding will leave marks of the ejector on the formed parts, for example. So, the knowledge of materials and technology will help you a great deal in dating the object.

Next, you want to find out where the radio is made. That will be another research. You will most certainly find the place where the manufacturer has his head office but that’s not necessarily the same place he manufactures the radios. Big companies tend to have production places throughout the nation, if not throughout the world. Some might even produce the same radio in different plants. Some might cooperate with other manufacturers so the radio is built in the plant of one manufacturer but has the name of a second manufacturer on it. Much to register…

Easy going: the dimensions

To reach safe ground again we measure the radio. That’s simple. Height, length, depth. But wait! What’s about the cable? It sticks out of the silhouette. If we just measure the dimensions of the box, every showcase maker will be in trouble, because he didn’t know he has to add space for placing the cable. If we measure the maximal dimension with the cable in every direction, we will get ridiculous vast dimensions. If we just fold the cable behind the box and add the measurement to the measurement of depth? Well… someone might re-measure just the box, coming to the conclusion that this can’t be the radio he searches for, because the data differs.

Best solution to this issue – that drove generations of exhibit designers crazy – is to add an information to every measurement. For example: „box“, „cable length“, „measured when closed“ or „with lids open“.

Technical data: A look inside

What about the technical data? In the field of classical arts you can keep it simple and to the point most of the time. „Oil on canvas“ for example includes every technical information you need. You know what to expect, even without seeing the actual picture. As an experienced registrar you can even give a complete catalog of required storage conditions without actually thinking about it.

What is the technical data of an ancient radio? The materials used are wood, metal, glass and most certainly plastics. It might have a textile cover over the loudspeakers, too. And that’s just the outside. When you remove the back board you will find tubes, resistors, capacitors, inductors and cables. So the material list is enhanced with paper, lead, tar, wax, glue and certain kinds of synthetic materials you prefer not to think about too deep (Phenol formaldehyde resin, for example). The capacitors are filled with electrolyte, so you have to deal with liquids as well.

Open backside of a Philco PT-44 Transitone from 1940/41. Can you name all the materials you see?

Open backside of a Philco PT-44 Transitone from 1940/41. Can you name all the materials you see?

What are the ideal storage conditions for this material mix? Well, the one thing I can tell you is that there are no ideal storage conditions for this. You can just try to keep the climate stable but you will certainly knock off some bars for some materials.

And what about the techniques used? Well, wood will be sawed and joined, glass will be blown, metal can be pierced, bent, rolled, pressed, welded, spot-welded, riveted, soldered, screwed,… Are you still with me?
So, if you are detail-orientated like most registrars are, you will find many, many things to register. Take into account that each component like an electronic tube has its own manufacturer and year of construction, has its own purpose like amplifier tube or rectifier tube and technical data like voltage and power that separates it from the other components that might look similar at first glance. And this is just a simple radio. You don’t have moving parts like little electric motors and drive belts you will find in a tape recorder. And it’s far, far away from the things a car consists of.

Beyond technical data: the context

Human beings use technology to shape their environment. And vice versa technology shapes human beings. Don’t believe us? Just take a look at people waiting at a bus stop today and try to remember how it was ten years ago. While then they were reading newspapers or books or were staring as life went by, nowadays most people stare at their smartphone. So technology shapes our behavior and this is a fact since the first human discovered that he or she could use a stone as a tool.

Coming back to our radio, the use of this device changed people’s lives. Before its invention, you got news from the newspapers, about a day after they happened. With the invention of radio broadcasts you had the news only a few minutes or hours after they occurred. When radio came up, it was a sensation. There were only few broadcasts, not the 24/7 broadcasts we are used to today. When something was broadcasted, often the whole family would gather around the radio to listen – in the early days every family member with a headphone.


Young child listening to a radio, 1920-1930 (Item is held by John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland.)

Manufactured radios were scarce and expensive, so many people started to build radios themselves. It was a tremendous do-it-yourself movement. Manufacturing developed soon and in the 1920’s German manufacturers developed plans to build an affordable radio by sharing costs through standardization. It is often believed that the “Volksempfänger” VE 301 was a development pushed by Hitler, but in fact the plans reach back much further.
After the war the use and role of radio changed. Efforts were made to make the radio a portable device which could be done effectively after the invention of the transistor. When TV came up, it pushed aside radio as the place the family would gather around in the evenings. Listening to the radio became an activity done alongside another, more important activity like cooking, ironing or driving a car. That’s where radio is until now – well, not quite. With internet radio humanity has broken up the limitations of just being able to listen to radio stations within the reach of the own antenna. It was possible to listen to radio stations around the world through short wave even in the earliest radio times, but then it was still necessary to understand the technology involved. The right device, the right length and shape of antenna, propagation conditions… Nowadays you just turn on your little WLAN radio device and flip through a station list that allows you to listen to a country station in the Middle-West, a samba or bossa nova station in Brazil or some traditional music in Mongolia. You don’t need to know how it works, you just need to know how to handle your device (given, some menus are so complicated to understand that you just wish they were as easy and logical as the calculation of a dipole antenna).

How does this help in the registration of our radio? Well, if you have the development history in mind, it’s easier to track down and understand signs you find on the radio.

You might be able to trace the story of a common household appliance: while it might have been the center of family live in the beginning, layers of grease mixed with dust can indicate that it was the kitchen radio after a new and better model or a TV set came to the family. Signs of seams of glasses can indicate it was used frequently to put the drinking glass down, telling you it had a place in the household where one was tempted to do so, maybe the bedroom of a teenager? You might find someone decided to wrap it with self-adherent design foil to give it a fresher outfit in the 1970’s. Or, to the opposite, grounded off the original varnish and painted it over white to make it fit in the modern living room. You might find signs of restoration from the time the model gained collector’s value. Or maybe it is in an incredible good shape, looking just like it came from the plant, because it was held in high esteem over the years.

Header of the category "Which wiring do I chose to build?" of the popular German monthly journal "Radio Amateur" (taken from the issue 12/1928)

Self-made radios were common in the ealy days of radio, so was the knowledge of the technology involved. Header of the category “Which wiring do I chose to build?” of the popular German monthly journal “Radio Amateur” (taken from the issue 12/1928)

If you open the backside you might find alterations to the original wiring scheme, done to listen to frequencies originally not intended to be received with that radio. Maybe just because the original owner wanted to receive another allowed frequency, but maybe because he wanted to listen to “forbidden” stations (foreign broadcasts in wartime, for example). You might also find alterations done to insert a different type of tube, because the original one was no longer available or others were cheaper.

It is your responsibility as a registrar to be able to read the signs but also to act as a good investigator. Assumptions have to be marked as such. They can be verified by asking the donor about what he or she can remember about the object. If you are lucky, the radio came with documents: the original invoice, the license to use it or a photo of the proud owner. These documents have to be properly filed and referenced in the data base. If you get additional hints and stories from the donor, they have to be documented as well.

The radio is a part of human history. Maybe a small part but as we are keepers of the cultural heritage we are responsible to keep important information together.

How deep is your registering?

Having read so far you surely feel overwhelmed by information and possible things to register. They all seem important, adding context and meaning to this special object as well as to the history of radios in general. Your observations on this object might indeed be helpful to verify or falsify theories of historians.

The perfect way to store technological objects? Certainly not! (picture: Philip (flip) Kromer from Austin, TX)

The perfect way to store technological objects? Certainly not! But it’s still how some people think it is in the storage of a science and technology museum… (picture: Philip (flip) Kromer from Austin, TX)

But in reality we don’t have as much time to invest in a single object. We have to make decisions on what to register and what not. Especially, as we registrars in science and technology museums are often carrying a burden from the past: For years, the custom in collecting technical objects was similar to how you run a junk yard: You just collect them and pile them in large industrial halls without documentation. Heck, they are just industrial mass products; you can document them sometime in the future, right? Well, we all know that this was not right, that we lost information because of the carelessness of our ancestors. So part of our work is to research and to give the objects in our collections their history back.

So, we have to limit ourselves in the registering of the single object to get more done in the whole collection. Sometime in the future we will write something about how to conduct a “triage” to protect and document as many objects as possible as primary care.

TV storage gone wrong? Nope, we are back in the arts sphere: That's "idiot boxes" by Nam Jun Paik (picture: Artiii)

TV storage gone wrong? Nope, we are back in the arts sphere: That’s “Sensory Overload” by Nam Jun Paik (picture: Arti Sandhu)

How deep we go with registering an object is a decision on a by-case basis. For most exhibitions or loans a documentation of basic technical data that can be measured and can be found on a type label is sufficient, along with a rough estimate of the manufacturing time. There are specialized research and exhibition projects that need a more thorough documentation. But then again, that’s where you can use synergistic effects. These projects can have specialized curators and scientists that provide additional data. Or the projects are funded in a way that you can invest more time on detailed registration.

In a way, registering technological objects is squaring the circle: When you register most accurate, you can’t register many objects. If you register not accurate enough you might reach high numbers but produce data base entries that are all but helpful. While “The Night Watch, Rembrandt van Rijn, 1642, oil on canvas” says sufficiently enough, “Radio, BRAUN, 1950-1959, wood” says nearly nothing. So, it’s up to the registrar to find a good middle ground between being too detail-oriented and being too common.

Angela Kipp, Bernd Kießling

Bernd Kießling holds the job title of “Museologe” at the TECHNOSEUM, Landesmuseum für Technik und Arbeit in Mannheim, Germany. His working area can be compared to the work of a registrar. His areas of expertise are the collections of radio, television, radiocommunication, computer technology, office technology, photography and nuclear technology.

This text is also available in Italian translated by Silvia Telmon.


The registrar: A strange, endangered breed of animal rarely spotted

Recently, I read an email by Alana Cole-Faber, Registrar at the Hawaiian Mission Houses in Honolulu, Hawaii, USA. The context doesn’t matter here, but her words were:
„…us who are, literally, isolated. Like, on islands. In the middle of oceans. Where registrars are a strange, endangered breed of animal rarely spotted.“


A registrar in his natural habitat: caring for collections. Thanks to Matt Leininger for the picture.

I was thinking again and again about these words. Alana works on an island, so her words hold especially true for her position, but I found it a brilliant description of our jobs as registrars, collection managers or curators of collections in general.

Sometimes, when I go through the aisles of our outside storage, searching for an artifact that has to go out for a loan and is marked in the database as “location unknown” I can nearly hear the voice of Sir David Attenborough: “The registrar sneaks through the jungle of objects in search of its prey. Some way down the aisle an artifact sits together with some fellows, suspecting nothing. The registrar comes closer. She looks, checks the record and with a short, purposeful snatch grabs the artifact.”

A look at the figures

But joke aside, isn’t it really so that the registrar is an animal rarely spotted? Most of our work is done behind the scenes. So much behind the scenes that we are even out of sight and sometimes even out of mind for most of our colleagues. I started a non-representative survey on certain field-related LinkedIn groups1 to see if my personal experience of the working setup is right. The question was: “As a registrar: What is your normal working setup (more than 50% of your average working time)?” See what I’ve got:


Fortunately, the lone wolves that have to roam their territory all by themselves with no one within reach are not the majority. But, to stay in the picture, registrars don’t form packs. The registrar’s work has to be done alone by 71%.

The hermit in the storage area

Registrars often work concentrated behind the scenes.Thanks to Lisa Verwys for the picture.

Registrars often work concentrated behind the scenes.
Thanks to Lisa Verwys for the picture.

How is it like to work all alone? I like to quote a comment2 made by Antony Aristovoulou that throws a light on this: „I rarely received inspections or signs of interest from those who were managing me, and it it became a very lonely process. The artefacts became my friends.“
No-one will deny that it is great to be alone in the storage area from time to time. Working alone as a registrar has an amount of freedom few people can afford nowadays. Depending on the architecture and infrastructure of the storage it might even mean no internet and mobile connection. Separated from the rest of the world, on a lonesome island.

What are the consequences? Well, there are certain dangers. Firstly, the pure, physical ones. There has to be a security concept for the one that works all alone. Generally, the one who is forced to work alone should always have the possibility to call for help and assistance. It should be made sure that it is recognized when he or she gets in a situation where he or she is not able to call for help. Possible ways: A routine in calling him or her by phone to check if everything is alright. A mobile phone that he or she always carries with her / him (given there is mobile-phone reception). A checkup procedure that makes sure he or she doesn’t get locked in a storage area. Extra inspection tours of the security guard. All of this should be organized before someone starts working alone.

But there are other, less obvious dangers in working alone. Chances are high no one thinks about the one that works in the storage area when all go out for lunch. Important information in institutions is often passed on over a cup of coffee during a break. People who don’t get feedback or have the possibility to exchange with their colleagues tend to become solitary. It’s the task of the registrar him/herself to avoid total isolation by taking part in the community of the museum. But it’s also the task of his/her colleagues not to forget the one in the storage area. And last but not least it’s the job of the ones that are responsible for the working organization in the museum to create possibilities of exchange between the staff members. This might be the only way that the registrar becomes not the „strange animal from the storage“ but stays the colleague. Okay, make it „the colleague with the strange job“, but still: the colleague.

The one that spoils the fun

Giving clear directions of what to do and what not is part of the job.Thanks to Zinnia Willits for the picture.

Giving clear directions of what to do and what not is part of the job.
Thanks to Zinnia Willits for the picture.

The numbers show why many registrars feel isolated, even within a team. This has much to do with the job the registrar has to perform. He or she has to care for the well-being of the objects in the collection. That includes often saying „no“ when it comes to loans or events within the museum. If the head of the institution wants to have a big party in the galleries, the registrar has to stand his or her ground by saying that this can’t include food and drinks. If the marketing team wants to collect school groups with a historic school bus, the registrar most certainly has to say that this isn’t possible. If a befriended institution wants to borrow a flag and plans to hang it in the entrance of the exhibition without protection, he or she can only shake her head. He or she acts as an attorney for the artifacts, who can’t speak for themselves. Although on paper all staff members are responsible for preserving objects for the future, the buck often stops at the desk of the registrar. But the registrar is not the head of the institution. Usually, he or she is not even the head of the department. This means although the responsibility lies on his or her desk, his or her decision may not be the final one. This adds up to the feeling of being isolated.

For the team members, it is the other way round. Curators have great ideas for upcoming exhibitions. Designers have new ideas how to present the artifacts. Marketing people think intensely on how to attract visitors. And then the registrar comes and just says „no“ to their ideas. Of course, for them it looks like the registrars are strange animals! They are the ones that spoil all the fun! But the painful truth is: that’s the job. If the registrar is lucky, there are also conservators on the team that back up his or her opinion. Otherwise he or she can just point to policies and standards (which is rather boring for the rest of the team) or present cases where it went wrong because nobody listened to the registrar (which is more entertaining, but not necessarily more convincing). In the end, the registrar can’t do more than state his opinion and document the whole process of decision-making to be on safe ground.

An endangered species?

High-quality work is important - and needs enough time and money. Thanks to Sharon Steckline for the picture.

High-quality work is important – and needs enough time and money.
Thanks to Sharon Steckline for the picture.

So, is the registrar an endangered species? Well, the registrar might not be more endangered than any other museum professionals today. When money is tight, cultural institutions are the first that are looked upon with a frown by authorities. But as far as I can see, this is not limited to collection management. Politicians tend to ask if a certain museum can be run by fewer people or is necessary at all. In fact, many institutions in countries outside the US just recently realized what registrars are good for and create more jobs in this field. But that’s just one part of the story.

Another part is that quality of our work is really in danger. When money is tight, decisions on where the money should go are hard to make. And often, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Registrars, trained to act as inconspicuous as possible by trade, often are the ones that are not heard in their requests for archival materials and manpower. But again, that’s just one part of the story.

In many smaller museums money is so tight that it’s not the decision between archival boxes for collection management or advertising in the newspaper, it’s the decision between fixing the roof or having an exhibition. In this cases human resources are a big issue3. Here, the position might be called „registrar“ but it comprises much more. He or she might be also the visitor guide, complaint manager, shop assistant, cashier and curator all in one person. This often means that this person can’t invest as much time in collection management as is needed.
Other museums decide they can’t afford a registrar on permanent staff. They will hire freelance registrars when urgently needed. This is a good idea when it comes to planning new storage units, get consulting on how registration should be organized, have the artifacts of a temporary exhibition in safe hands4 or do an inventory on a certain collection. However, if an institution holds a collection that exceeds a certain amount of objects (not easy to draw a line here, this depends as well on the scope of the collection as on how it is „used“ by the institution), collection management is a full-time job. The idea to let a registrar do an inventory on the collection and then have „someone do it along his regular duties“ or „all the staff cares for the collection“ doesn’t work.


Quality in museum work is always a combined effort. Teamwork is the key. Thanks to Matt Leininger for the picture.

A registrar is more than a human data base. If you have all collection items absolutely accurate in your data base (name a museum that has!), this doesn’t mean it stays that way. Keeping track of the objects is a permanent effort. Having everything correct in the data base, too. You can have all staff members swearing an oath to always document every movement of objects in the data base, you will still have St. Entropy messing around in your storage area! A good registrar will have an eye on that. But there’s more to it. Like in every library, some objects get „lost“ by being put in the wrong storage place. A registrar that is familiar with his / her collection will have an idea where to search for it – based on his experience and on the knowledge who handled the object recently. Don’t forget you usually not only contract a registrar – you contract an elephant’s brain! Lastly, a registrar who is in charge of a collection for a long time will somehow merge with his or her collection and storage area. He or she develops something like a sixth sense for things that are wrong: an unusual increase in humidity before someone checked the hygrometer, an object that just doesn’t look the way it always looked, a voice telling the registrar to take a walk around the outside storage hall once again before leaving… That’s something that develops over time. You can’t have it with short-term contracts for only a few months or a year.


As we saw, the registrar is in fact an animal rarely spotted. It is a combined effort not to let it become an endangered animal:

  • As an individual: all who work in the museum have to take care that the registrar is safe during his time working alone and doesn’t become isolated from the rest of the museum community.
  • As a professional: all the colleagues need to understand what is the job of the registrar. It’s not that he or she wants to spoil the fun, it’s his or her job to protect the objects so others can enjoy them in the future, too.
  • As a museum: authorities should think in-deep about the value of professional collection management. It is an old hat that preventive conservation and professional storage saves costs in the long run. Cutting budgets here might result in higher costs later.
  • As a society: politics, communities and tax-payers in general should think about the value of museums and their collections. We all know that a person that loses his memory will lose himself. It’s the same with a society that loses its history. Preserving our heritage is not only a cost factor, it has high value for a society.

Just my two cents on this issue. Now, I got to go, I need to roam my territory, I think I spotted some undocumented objects further down that aisle…

Angela Kipp


  1. Association of Registrars and Collection Specialists, Collections Management and Collection Preservation and Care, dates collected from 01/27 until 02/23/2013
  2. Comment made concerning the survey posted in the Association of Registrars and Collection Specialists Group on
  3. When I asked „Calling all museum staff responsible for collection management and registration! What are the main issues in your job?“ on LinkedIn „Collections Management“ Group, an overwhelming 50% answered „Staff issues“, before „Funding for climatization, security, etc“ (16%), „Funding for packing material, racks, etc“ (12%), „Donations“ (10%) and „Borrowing and loaning“ (9%). The discussion thread there is rather interesting and highlights the issues collection management has to deal with:
  4. I strongly recommend to have a registrar in the exhibition team when doing an exhibition that contains a certain amount of artifacts. See my article „5 tips for dealing with registrars“

The critical registrar

More about the registrar in the museum’s collection1

Fernando Almarza Rísquez

On previous occasions I have written on the role and scope of the registrar of museum collections, his professional education and working style. My most recent publication (in Spanish) on this appeared last October.2 Following this, I’d like to add some additional thoughts:

The registrar should be a broad-minded and critically thinking individual. “Smart” registrars have to be up to date with the developments, reflections and concerns that arise and evolve in their professional field and in museums and museology in general. The critical registrar is a museum practitioner as well as a museologist (to the extent that reflects and contributes about theories, trends and analysis of museology).

The information which is recorded on the museum’s collection can be regarded as a mine of knowledge and as a place where meaning and significance is growing. The registrar in the first instance generates, commands and controls that information. He / she is the “gateway” to the museum’s collections, both for the informational dimensions and for the objects themselves.

The critical registrar has to have substantial knowledge of the object or artifact itself. He has to take care that all the important „technical“ data goes into the documentation files in the right form, may it be paper or computer files. Today, this means also that the registrar needs profound computer knowledge so he / she can bring this information in the computer / data base in a way that makes it accessible to other staff members, scientists and the public. Therefore the registrar has to be up to date with current developments in computers and information technology. The critical registrar thinks broadly, innovates and creates and has high standards regarding quality, transparency and honesty.

In addition to the data the registrar collects himself he is responsible for bringing object data from other experts like curators or scientists into the records. The critical registrar has to find the correct form of documenting and making the data accessible. The way he does this depends on the nature of the object and data: this includes (but is not limited to) natural or cultural heritage, tangible and intangible, cultural and ethnological contexts.

The profile of a critical registrar can be summed up by the following points:

In control, but not limited to the bureaucratic aspects concerning the office: files, phones, plans, storage places, locations and security monitoring, insurance paperwork, loan agreements, transportation, packaging, emergency and preventive conservation, legislation, tax concerns, organization, custody;

Working in a team: Working as a gateway to different professions inside and outside of his / her own department. Cultivates an interdisciplinary relationship, in consensus and not in conflict with other museum professionals, especially curators, conservators, exhibition designers3 and educators. He/She knows what identifies and unites, and what differentiates and binds to other museum professionals, in a practical exercise integrator: that of the similarity (to work in the museum and perform its functions) and the difference (of roles, scopes, sights and situations and cooperative organizational structure of the museum and its collections);

More than a boss, a leader, a manager, especially if he/she is leading a team of registrar assistants or aides. He / she does not command, but advises and guides, stimulates, delegates and supervises the work. He / she acknowledges and shares the successes achieved by the team or individual staff members. He / she thinks pluralistic and always in favor of his or her institution and team. He / She cares about his/her staff, promoting their potential and abilities, creating an atmosphere of honesty and devotion to the work. He/she is proactive, resilient, and rejects the procrastination. His or her way of leading is an emotional intelligent one: he / she thinks logical without suppressing his/her feelings and allows feelings without blurring the logical sight;

A co-educator, aware that the information in his/her records provides additional data that helps to enable and facilitate constructive knowledge and to stimulate others (museum professionals, the public and consultants from the collection) to re-learn and re-teach. He/She knows that “teaching is not to transfer knowledge, is to create the possibility of producing it” (Paulo Freire). The critical registrar re-learns permanently and joyfully;

A thinker with extensive concepts and relationships, which integrates into his/her daily practice visualizing, representing and transmitting as living processes of a creative-conceptual mental map of the collection. Together with museum colleagues, the critical registrar develops and shares ideas and strategies for an intelligent, inspiring and interactive access to information. He / she thinks in all possible ways, connects internationally and keeps information about meaning and significance of objects as well as and ideas flowing – using all possibilities including virtual catalogs of the collection and powers of Web 2.0 resources.4

According to the profile of the museum or heritage collection in which he / she holds the responsibility as a registrar and/or team leader he / she must have as far as possible an appropriate education and training. This holds true for the knowledge about the technical aspects of his / her work as well as for the knowledge about history, meaning and significance of the natural and/or cultural heritage of which the collection consists. This means also – like stated before – that the critical registrar never stops learning but keeps up to date with the debates in the scientific community that is linked to the topics of his / her museum and collection.

The critical registrar is aware of these concepts. He / she keeps updated and considers to apply new concepts regarding definitions and categories of assets. This means today there is not only the basic division between the natural and cultural heritage, and the subdivision of the latter into cultural-material and cultural intangible heritage. Today, there is also the division between the natural-material tangible and natural intangible heritage. The current understanding of the dimensions of meaning and significance of the objects of collections have been expanded. New approaches have been developed beyond the dichotomy “natural” versus “cultural”. The concept of“Natureculture” 5

To keep an open and critical look and be willing to integrate new criteria in the everyday working process doesn’t stop here. The critical registrar has to stay informed in all dimensions of his / her profession and in the sciences his / her museum deals with. Fields of knowledge evolve, including the museum and museology. The benefit in staying critical and informed is not only for the registrar himself, it’s also for his / her team, other museum professionals, the museum and not at last for the public.

This post is also available in Italian, translated by Davide Bordenca

  1. I am deeply grateful to my colleague Angela Kipp for all her kind suggestions on translating this article into English. Article originally published in “Let’s talk about…” in the website of the Instituto Latinoamericano de Museos ILAM, in December 2012.
  2. “El Registrador de colecciones del museo”. MUSEA Magazine N° 71 p 4-5. Oct 2012. Spain.
  3. I make reference here to the museologist Angela Kipp, Registrar at TECHNOSEUM, Manheim, Germany, and her recent article “5 tips for dealing with registrars Why curators and collection managers often talk at cross-purposes instead of complementing each other to a perfect team”.
  4. “Cibermuseos o limitado aprovechamiento de la web 2.0” (available in pdf). Revista Digital Nueva Museología/Artículos. Rosario, Argentina. 2011. www.nuevamuseologia,
  5. “Unlike other museological institutions, objects of the natural domain contained in their collections are developed, produced anthropogenically, are collected. (Haraway, 1989). Within this perspective, the objects of natural history institutions allow some thought as elements that seek to represent the nature / culture. At first it was thought that these museums represent objects that were not produced by human agents, why native elements of nature that make their collections can be interpreted as artifacts produced (Haraway, 1992), that is, admitting only those elements turned-mostly as models produced from human activity. Nature and culture are co-constitutive and inseparable. From this view, the objects of these museums would be what Haraway (2003) conceptualized by a neologism in English, as ‘naturecultures’ natural and cultural simultaneously or instead of being dichotomous. (Loureiro, 2007, p. 164)”. Sabrina Damasceno Silva. “O pedaço de outro mundo que caiu na Terra”: As formações discursivas acerca do meteorito de Bendegó do Museu Nacional. Universidade Federal do Estado do Rio de Janeiro. Dissertação de Mestrado apresentada ao Programa de Pós-Graduação em Museologia e Patrimônio. Orientador: Professor Doutor José Mauro Matheus Loureiro. P. 46. Rio de Janeiro, Brasil. 2010. Translation from portuguese to spanish and english: Fernando Almarza Rísquez. 2012.

5 tips for dealing with registrars

Why curators and collection managers often talk at cross-purposes instead of complementing each other to a perfect team

The days when museum storage managers were the strong guys with hands like duct covers are long gone. Today, collection management is the field where well-trained specialists in the handling of arts and artefacts are called registrars or collection(s) managers. They are responsible for the safe storage and transportation of collection objects and for any documentation about those objects. The jobs of the curator and the collection manager are very different.
The one who makes an exhibition has to:

  • be creative
  • surprise the visitor with something new
  • have not only a plan B, but also a plan C, D and E for everything that goes
  • wrong
  • react in a short period of time to unexpected and unforeseeable events
  • present museum objects from their best side

The one that cares for collections has to:

  • think in long-term periods
  • use only materials that have been tested again and again for meeting archival standards
  • document everything that happens to an item of their collection – really everything
  • plan every detail so nothing goes wrong
  • divert attention from storage areas, and the transportation of museum objects

© Claudia Wagner, The Super-Registrar, the inscription reads “No Loan”

This is the reason why there are often issues between these two people or teams when it comes to developing and building an exhibition. Needless to say, most issues can be avoided if both parts know how the other one thinks and what his requirements are. Even more, if they fully understand what the other one’s responsibilities are the curator and registrar can form a very effective team. From a collection manager’s point of view who worked long enough for the “opposite side” there are five crucial points exhibition managers should know to have effective collaborations with registrars:

An eye for the future

Registrars think in generations. If visitors will enjoy seeing a certain artefact in an exhibition is not part of their considerations – at least not in the first place. For them, it’s most important the artefact goes to the exhibition place without damage, is presented in a safe way that doesn’t lead to damage and, finally, comes back safe and sound.
This might sound simple. In reality, a good registrar will only give his or her nod of approval if he or she sees each and every step in this lane is safe for the artefact. For the exhibition coordinator, this means he or she should provide as much detailed information about the planned exhibition as possible. Being able to provide good answers to questions about temperature, relative humidity, illumination, sunlight exposure, interim storage and safety installations increases the likelihood of getting a loan approved.
If the planning process is far enough along to tell how the artefact will actually be presented, this information should be given to the registrar. If there are issues with this kind of presentation it’s better to discuss it in the earliest possible state. This is far better than having the courier stop the positioning of the artefact just before the opening. Or, even worse, having a loan called back by the lending institution while the exhibition is still running – letting visitors stare at an empty showcase.

Don’t confuse museum storage with an online shop

There is a tendency to present the museum’s collection in an online data base. This is great, because it raises public awareness for the collections and the work behind the scenes. On the other hand it sometimes raises false expectations. Neither one can borrow all things shown in the data base, nor does it in most cases represent the whole collection.
While planning an exhibition one is tempted to “fill the shopping cart” and place an “order”. Additionally, one is inclined to lend more items than one actually needs in the exhibition. Accustomed to online shopping, one tends to think “I’ll send it back if I don’t use it”.

Despite the new ways to present museum collections the classical collection work hasn’t changed at all. Every object has to be taken out of its storage place and examined to determine if it can go out for the loan or not. The registrar not only does a check on the object’s condition but also to see if it is scheduled for another project, if the loaning institution meets the specific requirements and if the data in the data base is correct and up to date. Every object needs exactly the same amount of care, no matter if it is finally shown in the exhibition or not. If the registrar in charge gets the impression that the borrowing institution is ordering objects without thought and planning he or she will be equally willing to collaborate like a curator who is told his job only consists of hanging pictures on walls.
The other way round the curator can take advantage of the profound knowledge of the collection manager if he or she communicates the intention for asking for a certain artefact. Often, interesting objects are recent acquisitions that can’t be found in the online data base. The collection manager might immediately recognize that some of them fit into the exhibition context and can give a hint.

A matter of time

No one has time to spare, least the exhibition coordinator. But haste makes waste and if there is one thing every registrar tries to avoid it is waste.
A loan requested without enough advance notice is not likely to be successful. If the time for checking requested artefacts and requesting institution is too short, it is very likely that the registrar will object to the loan request. The earlier the request the more likely the object is not scheduled for another exhibition project. It is more likely that there is time slot for necessary cleaning or conservation measures. Furthermore, one can unhurriedly think about packing and transportation matters and talk about crucial points to find good solutions.
But what time is the right time? This depends on many factors. If the curator is still not sure if an artefact should be shown it is too early, at least in most cases. No institution is excited to get a loan request that is changed several times afterwards. On the other hand, like mentioned before, there are many steps involved for the loaning institution and there should still be time enough to look for an alternative if the request is turned down. It gets especially tricky if there is a board of trustees or similar institution involved in granting a loan. In this case the request must be early enough for the next scheduled conference.
The best answer to the time question is to have one exhibition team member who is responsible for all the loans involved. He or she should have enough experience, contacts and intuition to make the right requests in the right way at the right time.

From A to B and back again

Security and transportation issues are part of a registrar’s day-to-day routine. It is part of that routine to only give way for a transport if the responsible registrar is fully convinced that everything is alright. Actually, it can happen to an exhibition coordinator that his or her van has to leave without the loan, because security didn’t seem to be sufficient. There is one simple way to avoid this: communication – talk early, talk often.
Once it is clear which artefacts will go out on loan one can talk about transportation. Is an art handler with a special air-conditioned truck needed? Is a normal van sufficient? Is there enough space on the loading platform with all the artefacts if they are securely tied down? Are climate-controlled crates necessary and do they have to be customized or built completely new? Are the packing materials stored at the borrowing institution during the exhibition or do they come back and need to be shipped again when the exhibition is over? Is a courier needed? A thousand odds and ends need to be considered, planned and scheduled so that everything runs like clockwork when it comes to setting up the exhibition.
A good collection manager will talk with the curator about issues and ask the right questions. A common issue is for example the limited floor load in historical buildings, or elevators that are not big enough for the borrowed artefacts. But even a registrar doesn’t always take everything into account. The better the communication beforehand the less likely there will be unexpected surprises when the exhibition project comes into the crucial phase.

The case of dotting the i

Registrars are notorious for being accurate when it comes to documentation. “Dot every i and cross every t” has become something like the slogan of registrars worldwide. True, registrars can be tedious when it comes to rules, policies and formalities. When in doubt they tend to better document more rather than letting information escape. This sometimes drives exhibition coordinators crazy, who need to worry about a great deal of different issues at the same time but normally are not particularly fond of paperwork.

For example: Every object that goes on loan gets a condition report that mentions every characteristic, scratch and crack. A copy of this report goes out with the loan and is asked to be continued as the object makes its way to the exhibition and back again. The condition should be checked and documented (preferably by a registrar) before it is exhibited, during the exhibition and before it goes on the transport back to the loaning institution. Filling out condition reports is time consuming and needs to be done in the critical phases before opening and after finishing an exhibition where time is especially short.
With exhibitions based on the presentation of many artefacts and/or consisting of many loans from different institutions and maybe even from abroad, paperwork becomes a sometimes overwhelming factor. It is tempting to be a little sloppy with it and give more attention to other issues. This is the reason why curators sometimes tend to react irritably when being asked to initial that everything is fine for a felt 387th time.
This changes immediately if there is an insurance claim or if customs authorities ask awkward questions. Then every exhibition coordinator can be thankful if he or she had someone in the team who was working painstakingly accurate and dotted all i’s and crossed all t’s.

Conclusion: a perfect team

The domain and job requirements of curator and registrar are very different – and so are in most cases the personalities. That’s the reason why they can complement each other perfectly in an interdisciplinary team. Much is written and talked about what makes a good curator, exhibition designer, exhibition coordinator or project manager. What makes a good registrar is less common. This is somewhat logical, because it is part of the job to keep a low profile. But the often hidden strengths of a collection manager are priceless when it comes to setting a good exhibition:

There is the accuracy when it comes to formalities and the detail orientation when it comes to planning processes. This is combined often by a treasure trove of experience in dealing with tax and customs authorities, fine art shippers and museum colleagues and a profound knowledge about regional and institutional distinctions. In most cases, managing collections means coping with a low budget and still trying to make the best of it. So registrars often have good ideas where to get certain materials, tools or services for a reasonable price and how to solve problems with inhouse means.

To be well-connected in the field is inevitable in a registrar’s job. A curator can benefit from this network if he or she has the right kind of sensibility when it comes to handling and exhibiting artefacts. A recommendation among colleagues can achieve more than a well-written letter to a head of an institution. Of course, in the case of negative experiences this applies vice versa. In addition collection managers not only have a well-kept data base but in most cases the memory of an elephant. Very useful if you are planning an exhibition: you can get hints on artefacts in the collections of other museums and long forgotten past exhibitions, facts, figures and objects you won’t find in any data base or on the

Briefly: Those who have to deal with registrars might sometimes feel reminded of the
stereotyped Prussian administrative officer or even Tolkien’s Gollum. But
understanding how they work and what requirements and ideas guide their actions
will be the key to great collaboration and team play. Whoever wants to set up a major
exhibition project will be well advised to have such a nitpicking professional in his or
her own ranks, anyway.

This post is also available in Italian, translated by Davide Bordenca