5 Steps to Protecting Your Art Collection

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5 Steps To Protecting Your Art Collection

Published Jul 2022
art painting

You may have just procured an art piece or added another valuable piece to your collection. Either way, are you aware of how to transport, store and display your valuable art pieces? There may be accidents or natural catastrophes that are beyond your control, but there are ways you can prevent losses or damage to your artwork in when these events happen.

Check out these five steps you can adopt to protect your art collection.

  1. Preparing your artwork for travel

    There are more ways to purchase art than there used to be: from bidding in an auction, visiting an art gallery overseas to purchasing online. The acquired artwork will have to be sent to your premises or sometimes personally brought back. Damage to artwork more commonly occurs during transit due to the risk of improper handling.

    Ensure that you work with a reputable art shipper and handler who is experienced in packing and transporting artwork. Avoid using a general mover when packing your valuable collection. A good art transporting company should also be able to provide you with advice on rules concerning customs and taxes. Check whether they use third-party vendors and if the transit will entail temporary storage in other locations. If so, ensure that you are aware of the experience of the vendors in handling similar artwork and make sure that the storage providers have adequate fire and security measures in place.

    Request for condition reports to be made by the handlers before packing and after unpacking. This is to ensure that the conditions of the artwork are not compromised during transit. The condition report should include a detailed description of the pieces, high-resolution photographs, and documentation of any pre-existing damage.

    For on-road transit for instance, trucks should have climate control measures, a good locking system and a GPS tracking system. To ensure that the vehicle is never left unattended, the truck should be staffed with two drivers or art handlers on every trip. Lastly, explore different options for insurance coverage for both international and local transit. Choose one that would be suitable for your needs.

    Read up about protecting fine art in transit here.

  2. Creating a safe environment for display

    While an art piece may look its best when illuminated by light, placing it under direct sunlight or artificially generated light may cause the quality of the paint or other medium used to deteriorate over time. Where possible, use proper artificial lighting and frame the pieces under UV-protective glass. Additionally, the ideal indoor conditions include temperatures ranging from 21°C to 24°C and humidity levels between 45% and 55%.

    When mounting the artwork, ensure that you do so securely and use the right tools to prevent damaging the pieces. If you are not sure how to do so, hire a professional art installer or check with the gallery if they are able to do this for you. Take note to display the artwork in a safe environment with a low risk of breakage. Avoid displaying artwork where there is heavy human traffic or at blind corners where the risk of accidental breakage is high.

    Install fire alarms and smoke detectors to minimize loss due to fire. Do not install water sprinklers above artwork as the water may cause damage to artworks. Also, ensure that all entry points are fitted with burglar alarms, CCTV cameras and motion detectors. Windows and skylights should also have glass break sensors installed.

    Art can exist in many forms. If you are a collector of such contemporary pieces made from unusual mediums (e.g., 4-meter tiger shark preserved in a tank, statue made of the artist’s blood), ensure that you are familiar with how to maintain them. Sculptures or other artwork displayed outdoors should also be able to withstand the weather and harsh elements. Get familiarized with how to maintain these pieces of art and adhere to the recommended maintenance or cleaning schedule.

  3. Factors to consider when selecting an art storage facility

    As your collection grows, you may need to store part of your art collection offsite due to space constraints at your premises. Other times, you may simply be relocating or moving, and need to keep your valuable art pieces in a safe environment until the new display area is ready. Whatever the case may be, ensure that you carefully select an art storage facility. Here are some factors to consider:

            1. Ensure that the art storage facility does not have any adjacent hazardous exposure, such as being next to a paint factory.

            2. Check that the building and construction are in an acceptable condition.

            3. Review the fire and security guidelines of the storage facility to ensure that they are compliant with the industry standards.

            4. Ensure that there are humidity and temperature controls.

            5. Make sure that the artwork is placed on elevated racks or shelves. This is preferred to prevent damage to artwork due to flooding or ponding.

            6. Speak with the staff to ensure that they are experienced in handling artwork in all forms.

            7. Review their inventory management systems to ensure that your pieces are in good hands.

  4. Updating the value of your collection Ensure that the valuations of all the pieces in your collection are up-to-date.

    This will prevent inadequate insurance coverage in the event of a claim.

    The value of each piece can be affected by a variety of factors, such as the recent sales results of artwork by the same artist, the artist’s growing prominence which results in higher demand, important provenance etc. of the artwork.

  5. Keeping an updated inventory

    Create and regularly update the list of your entire collection. Ensure that you store record duplicates in hard and soft copies, preferably in different locations. A comprehensive record should include copies of invoices, appraisals and authenticity certificates of each piece of art. The inventory should have a full description of each piece with the following details:

            1. Title

            2. Artist

            3. Medium

            4. Dimensions

            5. Year of creation

            6. Source

            7.  Date of purchase

            8. Current location

            9. High-resolution photograph of the artwork

The steps above may seem like a lot to manage. Being an art collector or guardian entails protecting your collection to the best of your ability.

At Chubb, we are committed to protecting you and your prized collection and possessions. We go beyond providing you with comprehensive insurance coverage. We also deliver on our promise to help you lower risks and protect your collection.

To find out more on how to better protect your art collections,  

@2022 Chubb. The contents of this document are for informative purposes only and do not constitute advice. Please review the full terms, conditions and exclusions of our policies to consider whether they are right for you. Coverage may be underwritten by one or more Chubb companies or our network partners. Not all coverages and services are available in all countries and territories. Chubb® and its respective logos, and Chubb. Insured.SM are protected trademarks of Chubb.

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