The Office of the Registrar implements Museum polices and procedures encompassing acquisitions, loans, exhibitions, deaccessions, storage, packing and shipping, security of artwork in transit, fine art insurance administration, and risk management.
The title "registrar" was in use at the Museum as early as 1905, with the appointment of Mr. P. H. Reynolds as the first registrar. The job description, as described in the Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Vol. 2, No.4, (April 1907) has not changed appreciably in the intervening years. However, the size and complexity of the Museum's collections, combined with technological advances in the methods of record-keeping, packing, and shipping, and the increased pace of international art movement, have all changed the way the department carries out its mission. Registrars are always meeting new challenges in a world where increased global awareness and conflict have given rise to issues of provenance, seizure, antiquities, and war restitution claims.
The original Museum Registration Methods, published in 1958, was jointly written by Irma Bezold and Dorothy Dudley, of The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art, respectively. Now in its fifth edition, it established the gold standard for professional registrars.