Whether you’re moving your art collection across town to your new home, wrapping up a treasure to be sent as a gift, or simply hanging your latest acquisition, the logistics of packing, shipping and installation require the expertise of art professionals. Art—unlike clothes, boxes of books and general furniture—presents special challenges that are outside the sphere of ordinary movers and do-it-yourself-ers. We explore five important reasons to hire specialized art transport and art installation companies.
“Art was not meant to travel.” Jonathan Schwartz, President/CEO, Atelier4
Reason 1: Protective Packing for Transport
Works of art are often fragile and should not be wrapped in paper and shipped in boxes along with grandma’s china and your high school yearbook. Professionals have specific strategies for protecting art in transit, including: travel frames and collars, archival boxes and non-abrasive packing materials.
Daria Pletneva, Creative Director, NY Art Installation, Inc. says that collectors should remember that, “Any damage could eventually cost [you] more than hiring professionals for packing and shipping.”
Reason 2: Expertise & Accountability During Transport
Many collectors—especially new collectors or individuals with small collections—are not sure if the cost of hiring specialists is warranted. It may seem like an extraordinary expense during the already costly process of moving. But even the most careful conventional movers may not be aware of all the factors involved.
“Art handlers are specifically trained to handle, pack, install and de-install fine art. They are familiar with the intrinsic nature of the artwork, the sensitivity toward documentation of the de-installations and packing methods, as well as knowing the importance of documenting each stage of the process, which may include performing condition reports.” Amber Bonadio, Director of Operations, UOVO
Large, heavy works of art are fragile in their own way. Experienced art movers will know when a piece must be rolled and re-stretched for a safe move and when gantry work (specialized frames and platforms) are necessary. Art transport companies will also have climate-controlled trucks and be ready for every contingency.
“Art is versatile. If an artwork requires a special treatment it’s totally individual. For example, a collector purchased very heavy marble art pieces at an auction and wanted to install them on his rooftop. In order to do so, he needed to hire an elevating crane and block the street for a few hours with a special permission.” Daria Pletneva, NY Art Installation, Inc.
The difference between an art mover and a furniture mover with a contract to move art boils down to experience, knowledge and accountability.
Reason 3: Special Protection & Assurance Against Theft or Damage
Theft during transit is another nightmare associated with moving valuable works of art. Ask art transport companies about insurance and precautions taken against theft.
“The vehicles used in a reputable fine art logistics company should have GPS capability, alarms and dual drivers to maintain attendance during transit. We offer courier seats and sleeper cabs in some of our vehicles.” Jonathan Schwartz, Atelier4
Transport tracking systems, background checks on personnel, armed guards—even police escorts—are available from art transport companies. Discuss their policies and options, to find the appropriate precautions available in your budget.
Reason 4: Installation Pre-Planning
In addition to the fragility of the artwork in question and art in general, installation concerns include: the possible need for specialized equipment and the ability to use that equipment properly, familiarity with insurance requirements, knowledge of lighting, an understanding of art documentation, and an assessment of where you plan to locate the artwork. All of this takes expertise and time.
“Not all walls are created equal and site visits are incredibly important to determine if a piece can hang safely and the type of hardware and equipment that should be used to properly install the piece. A site visit will ensure that the actual installation goes smoothly and efficiently.” Amber Bonadio, UOVO
Most private collectors don’t realize that installing a work of art should be carefully planned and organized in advance. There’s a temptation to skimp on the planning stages, but this may add more time—and higher costs—at the time of installation. Individual collectors should emulate the process used by museums—with special care and time taken at each step of the process.
“Everyone wants the team to arrive and be wielding hammers in 10 minutes, but ultimately that’s not going to save you any time or money.” Amber Bonadio, UOVO
Reason 5: Installation is More Than “Just Hanging a Picture”
The value—sentimental and monetary—of a work of art is in the heart and mind of the collector. Unless you are certain about every aspect of an installation, it’s best to ask for help. A professional will be prepared to do complicated installations and protect your collection in the process.
“There is a difference between just a picture and an artwork. Artworks vary in size and material wise. We face complicated installations all the time. For instance, when a painting is too big to fit in a freight elevator we have to remove the frame, un-stretch the canvas, and then bring it back. You want a knowledgeable professional to do this kind of job. Often sculpture installations require metalwork at the scene.” Daria Pletneva, NY Art Installation, Inc.
Hardware—and the expertise needed to evaluate what is needed for the installation—is key.
“Due to the weight or type of hardware used in hanging a work, the consumer might not be familiar with the technique and a D.I.Y. scenario could result in a penny wise/pound foolish situation.” Jonathan Schwartz, Atelier4
Handle with Care
When artworks are being handled—wrapped, shipped and installed—they are vulnerable. Taking reasonable precautions and involving experienced logistics professionals will help you handle your art collection with the love and care it deserves.