What does a registrar do?


Caren Jones, registrar at Museum Wiesbaden. Photo: Museum Wiesbaden / Bernd Fickert

Whilst I am trying to figure out what I could possibly write for my blog entry to explain what makes my job as registrar so interesting, I keep an eye on my incoming emails realising that the various subject matters reflect my work of the last few days before my Easter break:

08.03 am re. „Gerhard Richter exhibition Budapest“

Während des Aufbaus der Barock-Ausstellung "Caravaggios Erben". Foto: Museum Wiesbaden / Caren Jones
Während des Aufbaus der Barock-Ausstellung "Caravaggios Erben". Foto: Museum Wiesbaden / Caren Jones

It comes as no surprise that this is the first message of the day. The Hungarian National Gallery is planning a Gerhard Richter exhibition for summer 2021 and the preparations have been going for a while. I know from my own experience with a Gerhard Richter exhibition in 2018 in cooperation with the Kunstmuseum Bonn and SMAK Gent that these preparations can be long lasting and rather complicated. However, we are only lending one painting to Budapest, but had to clarify various aspects of the contract with the help of translations and amendments. As it is a rather large painting, the packaging is complicated and the requirements for the crates are special, the frame is delicate due to the size of the glass, insurance value is high, but not negotiable. We agreed to the loan long ago after the Budapest museum supported our exhibition Caravaggio’s heirs in 2016 with generous loan from their Baroque collection.

09.06 am re. „Shipment Frank Gerritz in HH“

Photo: Museum Wiesbaden / Caren Jones
Photo: Museum Wiesbaden / Caren Jones

Straight from Baroque into Contemporary Art: next contemporary artist we are showing is Frank Gerritz and I am arranging the pick-up of several loans from several lenders in Hamburg, but we haven’t even agreed on a date yet. All his works are either large or very heavy or both, it is vital that all information I give to the shipping company are correct and I constantly check with the curators to make sure all details are accurate and will fit into the truck. I am also extremely gratefull for the input of the artist as he knows his work and the places where it is kept in Hamburg best, hoping we can avoid this…

However funny or scary this looks I can assure you that the artworks were secure at all times as this picture was taken whilst unloading with the help of very experience art packers and at no time was the artwork at risk.

10. 52 am re. „Extension granted by customs“

This is excellent news I have been waiting for and means that the loans by Joanna Pousette-D’Art from USA, which we showed in 2019 and imported on a time-limited export licence, can stay with us a bit longer and we have the opportunity to maybe show them again, before we need to return them back to the artist.

11.42 am re „Hans Völcker in Koszalin, Polen“

Unfortunately another case of a postponed exhibition we support with a loan from our collection, planned for summer 2021 now moved to autumn due to the corona virus. We had various loans at exhibitions in Germany and abroad that were extended, closed or never even opened. We tried to support all our colleagues, as all lenders to our exhibitions supported our plans with great loyalty and flexibility. We can not thank them enough. We had to exchange numerous new contracts, re-write several documents, re-print many papers, permissions agreed again, insurances extended, granted, and application re-filled. Just for the statistics: at this very moment we are showing 123 loans by 28 lenders from 6 countries in our 2 exhibitions August Macke and Winston Roeth, compared to 101 loans by 37 lenders from 6 countries in the exhibition Soulmates.

12.35 am re. „Questions in connection with J Beuys loans“

One of my favourites: we are lending various work by Joseph Beuys to the Lehmbruck Museum in Duisburg, which is one of many exhibitions celebrating Joseph Beuys 100th birthday this year. At this planning stage they are requesting our packaging requirements, pick-up possibilities and transport specifications. After I consulted the curator and the conservators in charge all details in connection with this loan will feature in the loan contract which I will draft accordingly.  I am also looking forward to the events we have planned for the Joseph Beuys anniversary at the Museum Wiesbaden in May, June and October.

1.59 pm re. „Insurance confirmation August Macke Mannheim“

Finally this document has arrived today as it is the last confirmation that all insurance papers and all documents are now complete for the extension of the exhibition August Macke. Paradise! Paradise? We are still hopeful that we can open the museum again under the corona restrictions showing this amazing display of colour by this wonderful artist which excites our visitors in such difficult times. But I will not start planning the return of all the works just now, it has to wait until after Eastern…..

3.17 pm re. „fright and customs USA AUS Winton Roeth“

Photo: Museum Wiesbaden / Caren Jones
Photo: Museum Wiesbaden / Caren Jones

Also in May I will have to return the works by Winston Roeth to all the lenders in America and Australia. I am now preparing the customs paper and advice the shipping companies of the upcoming dates and routes to avoid delay. Our exhibitions run at a very tight schedule, with only a few days to dismantle one exhibition before we start setting up the next. Timing is essential here, we can not afford a delay or we will run out of space for crates….

4.03 pm re. „confirmation of receipt Macke Münster“

It is always good to hear that a shipment returned safe and sound, especially if it has been as tricky as this one: unfortunately the LWL Museum in Münster could not extend the loan period for their loans by August Macke as they are preparing their own Macke exhibition. Therefore sadly 4 works had to leave us prior to the end of the show. Due to corona virus travel restrictions the conservator from Münster was not able to come to Wiesbaden to be present for the dismantling and packing of the works and we arranged for a digital visit via Zoom or Skype. We were not entirely prepared for this venture and it took us two weeks and about 37 emails, various laptops, notebooks and smart phones to run all the right cables at the right time to make a live transfer possible. But we did managed at the end and apart from one space in the corridors in the basement where we lost contact we were able to share the whole experience live on camera with Münster and received the message of the safe return of the loan about 4 hours later. Which is a good enough reason for me to shut down my computer and start my holidays.

Happy Easter!


Caren Jones

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