You may have just acquired a new item for your collection. Perhaps you have consigned part of your collection to a gallery to sell on your behalf or agreed to loan an object to a museum for exhibition. Maybe you purchased a new home and will be moving your entire collection across country. Whatever the scenario may be, this is one of the most vulnerable times for your artwork.
While transit damage is one of the most common causes of loss, proper packing and shipping procedures can ensure the safety of your collection. Consider choosing a specialty fine art packer and shipper with a solid reputation and experience in handling high-value objects. Referrals can be obtained through sources such as conservators, auction houses, art dealers, museums, other collectors or your local independent insurance agent, as they have experience with frequent transit exposures.
In addition, consider the following tips:
- Create an inventory of item(s) to be shipped. Provide a copy of the list to both the shipper and the person receiving the shipment.
- Determine appropriate packing materials. This usually depends on the type of item to be shipped and the duration of the shipment.
- Create condition reports of the item(s) prior to packing and immediately upon arrival. This will ensure that you will know when any damage occurred.
- Relay to the shipping company the correct dimensions and weight of each item to be packed and shipped so that adequate art handlers can be assigned for the job.
- Avoid local moving companies or common carriers who may not be experienced in handling highly valued items.
- Ship items in climate-controlled vehicles equipped with a GPS system, alarms and air-ride suspension.
- Use shippers who use dual drivers so that vehicles are not left unattended.
- Confirm if third-party shippers or other subcontractors will be involved in any aspect of the shipping. If so, make sure the third party has the same standards and procedures in place as the shipper you contracted.
Thoroughly review the level of experience and reputation of the company you are considering. Carefully review the shipping contract and research the amount of insurance the shipping company carries. If you choose a company simply on price, the result might be disappointing.
For more detailed information on how to protect your collection while in transit, contact your local independent insurance agent.
This loss control information is advisory only. The author assumes no responsibility for management or control of loss control activities. Not all exposures are identified in this article.