White Glove Environment – The Art of Handling Fine Arts
By Sherman Pereira
Crown Relocations, Regional Director – Central and Eastern Europe
After handling numerous masterpieces from the “Who is Who” of great artists, such as Picasso, Chagall, Dali, Miro and Gauguin, Crown Fine Arts (Relocations) can confirm that the actual handling of fine artworks is of crucial importance. Crown handled the transportation of the sculpture “Le Christ Mort” and the paintings “Le Sacre de Napoleon” and “Mona Lisa” for the Louvre in Paris. There are a few things which standout as being very important for anyone to remember when planning transportation of objects d’art.
Preparation and Packing
Obvious as it may seem, handling fine artwork is a specialized process because of the need for appropriate protection, confidentiality and security. It first requires a visit by a consultant to determine the work’s specifications (e.g. weight, size, shape and value) and the client’s budget and time constraints. Transportation options are then discussed.
Tailored crating service is usually required for shipments. Full customization provides maximum flexibility to accommodate the characteristics of the artwork.
Crates for paintings range from museum quality, which are designed to transport individual items, to divider crates that are designed to transport several pieces together. Climate-controlled crates are often used to further protect artwork that is being transported internationally or through changing climates.
This extensive preparation ensures that the precious work of art is protected for the duration of the journey and delivered safely to its destination.
Careful Handling During Transport
For ground transport, many customers rely on specially secured vehicles, which also vary in terms of size and capability. In Russia, temperature-controlled vehicles are used frequently.
Close supervision of air transportation is of the utmost importance; whether before, during or after the flights. Supervision at customs clearance is also crucially important as is arrangement of any necessary storage. The artwork will be safely stored at a bonded warehouse.
Some clients choose to have heavy artwork shipped by sea – a lower-cost option if there is flexibility in the timing of the delivery.
Customs Services and Insurance
Fine arts handling also requires customs documentation for import and export license applications, and advice on controlled shipping to individual countries. A professional fine arts service provider will normally handle these formalities on its client’s behalf.
In most cases, clients insure their own artworks. When this is not the case, the transporting company can arrange insurance for the client. A trusted fine arts shipper would not allow any work of art to be transported without insurance.
Exhibition and Storage Services
Travelling exhibitions are surely the most challenging fine arts services. They require much more than the basic transporting of artwork from one museum to another. Careful planning, seamless coordination, flexible delivery and experience are a must.
In addition to packing and transportation services, museums frequently ask for expertise services that refer to the entire coordination of an exhibition including storage, installation and hanging services.
Storage facilities with state-of-the-art security features and climate-control are generally a must. Ideally these facilities may also feature vaults and safes, to further safeguard high-value artwork.
Experienced, Dedicated Staff is Key
The foregoing services are redundant without a well-trained and dedicated staff. For high-value artworks it is imperative to ensure a safe transition while maintaining the highest possible level of confidentiality.
Experience has also shown that having a project manager assigned as the single point of coordination among dedicated staff members is generally useful for any project. This person will manage the process from the initial planning phase to the client feedback process, and this dynamic ensures a direct, clearly delineated line of communication for the client.