I am the Registrar at Tate Liverpool, which means that I am responsible for some of the less glamorous aspects of making exhibitions.

Basically, I get the artworks here for exhibition and send them back afterwards, that may seem simple but it is a complicated and time-consuming business. Each object has to be packed safely, a route and method of transport planned, and a timetable drawn up for collection and delivery, packing and unpacking and installation.

Magritte Registrar Role
Wendy checking-in a Magritte in the Tate Liverpool 'packing' room. This is where all artworks are stored before being hung in our galleries

Over the past couple of weeks, the René Magritte exhibition has been arriving, piece by piece, over 250 of them, at all hours of the day and night, and the art handlers and I have been waiting to unload the vehicles and sign in the deliveries. Magritte’s have flown in from America, Canada, Japan, Korea and Singapore, and there have been a number of vehicles from Europe. It is a real challenge to combine shipments in the most cost-effective way, while ensuring the works travel safely and arrive at a manageable pace for installation.

Magritte Registrar Role final check
Final check on the art work once hung in the gallery

As you might imagine, artworks must be documented, transported and handled with the utmost care at all times. Each work travels with a stack of paperwork, and some come with a courier, a person who oversees the unpacking and installation, and who may even travel with them on the aircraft or truck. We have 36 couriers for Magritte, which is the most we have had yet. They are always impressed with Tate’s waterside location and the number of galleries, museums and other places of interest in Liverpool if they have time to explore. However, they are less enthusiastic about the weather!

When the last case is signed in, labelled up and placed in the gallery, the art handling (see blogs by my colleague Ken Simons), conservation and curatorial teams take over to unpack and install them, and I can begin planning the return journey.



Am on my way to Liverpool to see the Magritte which opens today. Am very excited. Thank you for an interesting insight into the setup of the exhibition!

Wendy Lothian

It depends where you are coming from, I suppose! I hope you enjoy the exhibition if you see it.

Wendy Lothian

Thank you! It is always nice to meet the couriers bringing the works, if only briefly, and to welcome them to Liverpool.

Artist Alfie Nimmo

Hello Wendy, I think perhaps you have the most interesting job. For me to be able to unwrapp and look at the art as it is. really is as if handed to you by the artist himself. Oh Jen & Kirsten really you should go by cheapest transport. I will travel on the mega bus from Sheffield. It is a question How important is it to see the others things he made ? his life

it is is this artist important to you? My favorite is Louis Bunuel the spanish film maker, but I like max Ernst too a pity they are not having his work at Liverpool too.

I am just similar in my thinking to these artists, but none are living ((( I love Frida Kahlo's Paintings too and would love to go to visit her home in Mexico.

Oh Wendy i would love to have been there in your place to have received the art works and logged them)))

I am very realistic and critical and a lot of art in art gallerys are pants.... junk and horrible, I can tell you when an ugly artwork is magnificent , but most ugly work is just ugly and horrible....

Wendy I know you cant, but i hope you could make a few photos for your bibliorgraphy for your history of you and your time working their. a little story to tell in time to others, you was there and saw, held those small artworks.

I went to anne franks house before it was commercialised in the 1990s it was normal, old and i made a few photos, now its all new buildings and so commercial. then when i was there it was her old wall paper on her bedroom walls, now its all behind plastic screens and you can only get to see a small peice of the orignal wall paper, they moved her funiture too, and you can only see her room as it was in photographs and on video. But I saw it as it was, the day it was left as it was... her father never made any changes to her bedroom. it had real feelings, atmosshpere. now you can not get the rawness of how her father wanted people to feel, see it...

I would love to see magrttes painting on the wall in the ordinarry coffee shop, a real one, I go to the same posh coffee shop almost everyday in our city, it is normal for me and to see his work there as I write and think would be wonderful. Of course I paint everyday, everyday, it is tiring, demanding, draining, hard work, my hand hurts on many days, head hurts too, there are only a few, few who are so crazy with such commitment in any country. really Magritte worked and worked and worked, no computers and tv distractions in those times, people hard larger slicies of time to do things, pratical things..... I rarely spend time on computers or to watch tv.... life is too short

perhaps a few people got to this point, hello


This was very interesting, Thanks


Oh my, 36 couriers! Must be like herding cats.

Thanks for blogging about the registrar's role. It is one of those jobs that goes on behind the scenes that doesn't really get mentioned to the public, but it is so critical to the success of an exhibition.


I'm thoroughly enjoying these updates & only wish I had the money to travel to Tate Liverpool to see the exhibition. Anyone like to pay my train fare in return for an excellent review?? :)


Shalon Kirsteng! how much will the travelling cost settlement be?

Jen Pearce

Thanks for all these blogs, its fascinating. I will have to go see Magritte's "Empty Mask" in the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff again instead, as that is travel cost free for me.


Thank you for this nice message. It is certainly a privilege to care for these special things. I really hope that you enjoy the exhibition, and do have a look at our collection displays when you visit - the painting Celebes, 1921, by Max Ernst, is currently on display on Level 2 in The Sculpture of Language, part of the DLA Piper Series: This is Sculpture.