© Deutsches Historisches Museum, Martina Homolka


Registrars are responsible for the professional, economical and technically optimal development and implementation of measures and procedures/processes relating to the care and maintenance of the valuable collections in cultural institutions.
The variety of duties involved requires close cooperation with other individuals and departments within the institution, such as curators, conservators, collection management, technical services, accounting, security, administration, press and marketing. Registrars form the interface between all of these departments with regard to exhibitions. They ensure the full flow of information and coordinate dates with internal and external partners. Registrars correspond and negotiate with lenders, insurance companies and with forwarding agents, at national and international levels.

Duties in Detail

Tasks and responsibilities may vary, depending on the institution and the field in which one works. 
The full scope of work includes:

Institutional loans (incoming and outgoing)
  • Are responsible for conducting all correspondence for incoming and outgoing loans
  • Independently negotiate, review and manage terms and conditions of drafts while liaising with lenders, prepare and finalize loan agreements to the point at which they are ready for signing.
  • Establish the conditions for lending own items to third parties
  • Participate in the conservation review and decision-making regarding the potential lending of an item
  • Participate in the decisions regarding the conditions for the presentation of loaned items
  • Negotiate financial terms for both incoming and outgoing loans
  • Conduct negotiations/ issue specifications regarding packing and transport conditions, including any courier accompaniment that may be needed
  • Independently manage many organisational tasks in the context of travelling exhibitions and collaborations, often with several borrowers in succession – such as extending loan agreements, clarifying packing and transport issues, ensuring that budgetary limits are observed and so on.
Insurance, Federal and State Public Authority Liability
  • Independently negotiate, select and secure the required insurance coverage; examine the options for using federal and state public authority liability, including the diligent comparison of the liability provisions and conditions
  • Review and, if necessary, adjust the sums insured
  • Handle insurance claims
Facility Report
  • Review external facility reports from borrowing institutions in the context of loan requests
  • Produce and update the facility report of your own institution
Budget – Cost Calculation, Preparation and Control
  • Evaluate all of the costs associated with loans, such as packing, transport and insurance, as well as the costs of any conservation work needed to ensure that an object can safely be loaned
  • Provide specialist assistance with tendering and award procedures related to incoming loans, in particular the insurance and transport costs as well as other associated costs
  • Procure cost estimates, evaluate them and prepare budgets based on all areas of the registrar’s domain.
  • Calculate the costs in connection with the installation of exhibition spaces and exhibition architecture by construction teams and their freelance employees, as well as the costs for freelance conservators, couriers and external tradespersons, e.g. for installations
  • Place orders or award contracts to forwarding agents and freelancers as well as checking that orders and contracts have been fulfilled
  • Verify invoices and control costs
Scheduling Coordination
  • Coordinate dates and the preparation of outgoing and incoming loans
  • Personnel management of freelance employees on a project basis
  • Produce schedules for installing and de-installing exhibitions
  • Monitor and coordinate all processes involved in installing and de-installing exhibitions
Security and Surveillance
  • Coordinate security and access control during installation and de-installation and coordinate the incoming and outgoing transport of art works in consultation with the departments concerned and external security or surveillance companies
  • Monitor compliance with special requirements for the security of individual loans, often in cooperation with the museum technicians, so as to fulfil the stipulations of loan agreements – such as various alarm and security systems and video surveillance
  • Manage security within current exhibitions: the positions or duties of supervisors with regard to the exhibition and, in some cases, individual works of art that require special attention
  • Produce workflows and instructions for action in the event of damage to loaned items, in accordance with the provisions of the applicable loan agreements
Collection and Object Management, Care of Collections
  • Maintain the registry of documents relevant to the collection and records for the legally relevant documentation of the provenance of the objects in the collection
  • Maintain the inventory of objects in the collection according to museum practice and scholarly standards, as well as photographic documentation and supplementary inventory records beyond the purely form-based input
  • Develop instructions for the standardised recording of loans, writing of reports and forms, including restorers’ reports on the condition of items
  • Arrange for passepartouts/ framing; procure conservation aids, packaging etc.
  • Plan and control the professional storage of collection objects in compliance with conservation requirements, which includes allocating locations and monitoring current museum standards for the collection objects in collaboration with the conservators
  • Develop and independently implement storage concepts to secure the long-term storage of the objects in the institution’s collection, taking the latest developments in storage, climate control and conservation into account
  • Independently plan, manage and supervise building renovations and the relocation of collections belonging to internal or external partners; coordinate and ensure communication with all parties involved – curators, conservators, technicians, security and surveillance teams as well as forwarding agents, customs authorities, lenders and their couriers
  • Independently process purchases, donations and bequests, which includes conducting negotiations and preparing and formulating purchase contracts up to the point where they are ready to be signed
  • Do research in the collection for scholarly enquiries as part of dealing with requests from national and international institutions as well as from individuals
  • Process and do research for photo requests regarding objects in the collection from national and international institutions as well as from individuals, including clarifying the copyright or determining the copyright terms for objects in the collection
IT and Databases
  • Establish and maintain the collection/object database with the main information on the inventoried objects and loans (artist, title, date, inventory number, technique, material, dimensions, lender etc.)
  • Develop and update standard rules for recording object-specific data so as to ensure that the records of objects in the collection and of loans are adequate for research purposes
  • Check and, if necessary, correct the data collected
  • Record loans and all information that is relevant to the loaned object; maintain and update the internal database with all of the information needed to ensure the internal flow of information in connection with the cross-departmental processing of loans and the associated loan agreements and lending processes
  • Participate in the development and improvement of database systems as a specialist user
Qualifications and Responsibilities
  • University graduate degree in art history or history, or comparable degree in museum studies; it is useful to have completed a supplementary course in business management or law
  • Broad knowledge in specialised areas (finances/ law/ insurance/ logistics/ art conservation/ art and history/ intercultural skills)
  • Strong teamwork and communication skills in order to bring together the often very different areas within a museum’s organisational structure
  • Skills in planning highly complex workflows in the context of installing and de-installing exhibitions, as well as optimising the workflows of groups that may often be large (e.g. exhibition designers and architects/ scholars/ university seminars/ technical contractors/ legal departments)
  • Ability to develop strategies and workflows for preserving collections in the long term
  • Budgetary knowledge and skills relevant to project-related budget monitoring in relation to the overall budget of an institution
  • A high degree of responsibility – for example with regard to the insurance value of loaned items

Quelle: ART – Das Kunstmagazin, März 2023 (Autorin: Tania Beuthien)


Jahrestagung und Mitgliederversammlung, Braunschweigisches Landesmuseum
Protokoll Mitgliederversammlung
Vortrag Alieda Halbersma: Leitfaden „Klimaschutz und Nachhaltigkeit im Museum”
Vortrag Meike Wenck, Hamburger Kunsthalle: Elf zu Null: Hamburger Museen handeln

Jahrestagung und Mitgliederversammlung, Braunschweigisches Landesmuseum
Protokoll Mitgliederversammlung
Vortrag Alieda Halbersma: Leitfaden „Klimaschutz und Nachhaltigkeit im Museum”
Vortrag Meike Wenck, Hamburger Kunsthalle: Elf zu Null: Hamburger Museen handeln

03.-05.11.2022 ERC in Straßburg
12. European Congress of Registrars, Strasbourg Convention + Exhibition Centre

Leipzig, 16./17. Mai 2022
Jahrestagung und Mitgliederversammlung, Zeitgeschichtliches Forum Leipzig
Protokoll Mitgliederversammlung
Vortrag Dr. Christopher Garthe, studio klv: Das nachhaltige Museum. Neue Aufgaben für Registrars
Vortrag Patrick C. Kötter, LWL-Rechnungsprüfungsamt: Nachhaltigkeit, Ausschreibung, Vergabe

Virtuelle Mitgliederversammlung, 22.03.2021
Mitgliederversammlung als Webex-Meeting

Mannheim, 24./25. März 2019
Jahrestagung und Mitgliederversammlung, REM und Kunsthalle Mannheim

London, November 2018
11. European Registrars Conference

Potsdam, 11./12. März 2018
Jahrestagung, Museum Barberini, Potsdam

Schwerin, 5./6. März 2017
Jahrestagung und Mitgliederversammlung, Staatliches Museum Schwerin

Wiesbaden, 6./7. März 2016
Jahrestagung und Mitgliederversammlung, Kunstmuseum Wiesbaden

Wien, Juni 2016
10. European Registrars Conference

München, 2015
Jahrestagung und Mitgliederversammlung, Lenbachhaus

Bonn, 24. November 2014
Fortbildung „Einsatz digitaler Technik im Arbeitsalltag von Registrars“
Haus der Geschichte der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Bonn

Helsinki, Juni 2014
9. European Registrars Conference

Berlin, 23./24. März 2014
Jahrestagung und Mitgliederversammlung
Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin

Bonn, 8. April 2013
Arbeitstreffen und Mitgliederversammlung
Haus der Geschichte der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Bonn

Edinburgh, November 2012
8. European Registrars Conference

Amsterdam, November 2010
7. European Registrars Conference

Hamburg, 2010
Arbeitstreffen und Mitgliederversammlung
Hamburger Kunsthalle

Chicago, 6.-8. November 2009
International Registrars Symposium 3

Nürnberg, 8./9. März 2009
Arbeitstreffen und Mitgliederversammlung

Basel, 10./11. November 2008
6. European Registrars Conference

Dresden, 10. März.2008
Arbeitstreffen und Mitgliederversammlung

Köln, 29. Oktober 2007
Fortbildung „Probleme der Verpackung und des Transports von Kunstwerken“ und „Zollabfertigungen – Ein Buch mit sieben Siegeln?“
Museum Ludwig, Köln

München, 2007
Fortbildung zum Thema Vergaberecht

Frankfurt a.M., 19. März 2007
Arbeitstreffen und Mitgliederversammlung

Madrid, 13./14. November 2006
5. Europäische Registrarkonferenz

Wolfsburg, 15./16. November 2004
4. European Registrars Conference
Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg

New Orleans, 6.-10. Mai 2004
AAM Annual Meeting and Museum Expo™

Berlin, 19. Januar 2004
Arbeitstreffen und Mitgliederversammlung
Jüdisches Museum, Berlin

Rom, 11./12. November 2002
3. European Registrars Conference
Complesso Monumentale del San Michele, Rom

Frankfurt a.M., 2001