If you work in registration or exhibitions, you know how important it is to find reliable and trustworthy art transportation services for your valuable collections. Whether you need to move a single piece or an entire collection, you want to ensure that your art is handled with care, expertise and security. But how do you choose the best art transportation service for your needs? What factors should you consider before entrusting your art to a third-party provider? In this article, we will answer these questions and provide some tips on what to look for when hiring art transportation services.
What are art transportation services?
Art transportation services are specialized services that offer the packing, crating, shipping, storage and installation of fine art and antiquities. Art transportation services cater to museums, galleries, auction houses, private collectors and other institutions that deal with art. You should expect the art transportation services you choose to have the experience, equipment and facilities to handle artworks of different sizes, shapes, materials and values. They should also have the knowledge and skills to comply with the regulations and requirements of different countries and regions regarding the import and export of cultural goods. They can be an excellent partner when it comes to international loans, as they are likely to have pre-existing relationships with local art transportation services in different countries. Some of them will even include the insurance services you might need during transportation.
Why do you need art transportation services?
Valuable collection items are not ordinary objects that can be moved or shipped by any courier or freight company – although based on some conversations we’ve heard some documents have been known to have been sent through regular couriers! Generally speaking, though, collections in transit are considered fragile, sensitive and irreplaceable items that require special attention and care. During transport, artworks can be damaged by various factors such as temperature, humidity, vibration, shock, pressure, dust, pests and even theft. Therefore, you need to consider art transportation services that can provide the following benefits:
- Customized packing and crating solutions that protect your artworks from environmental and mechanical hazards. Some sustainable options today used by different art transportation services include Turtlebox and ROKBOX.
- Climate-controlled or at least impermeable transportation options that maintain stable temperature and humidity levels for your artworks.
- If necessary for your particular type of objects, look for services that use air ride suspension trucks to minimize vibrations and jolts. Don’t forget it’s a really good idea for the trucks to be GPS-tracked as well.
- Secure storage facilities that offer fire protection, climate control, 24-hour surveillance and access control for your artworks while in transport.
- Professional installation or art handling services that ensure the proper placement and display of your artworks.
- Insurance coverage options that compensate you in case of loss or damage of your artworks.
- Customs support that helps you with the documentation and clearance of your artworks across borders if necessary.
How to choose art transportation services
Not all art transportation services are created equal. Some may offer more options, better quality or lower prices than others. Some may also have some standards related to sustainability such as lower carbon footprints, or reusable packing materials and crates. Therefore, you need to do some research and comparison before hiring an art transportation service for your project. Here are some factors that you should consider when choosing an art transportation service:
- Reputation: Check the credentials, references and reviews of the art transportation service. Look for testimonials from previous clients or partners who have used their services. Ask for recommendations from your colleagues or peers who have experience in working with art transportation services.
- Experience: Find out how long the art transportation service has been in business and what kind of projects they have handled. Look for examples of their previous work and see if they have experience in handling artworks similar to yours in terms of size, shape, material and value.
- Services included: Compare the range of services that the art transportation service offers. See if they can provide all the services that you need from packing to installation. Check if they have options for climate-controlled transportation, security, storage and installation. In the case of international travel, ask if they can handle customs clearance and insurance for your artworks.
- Quality: Assess the quality of the materials, equipment and facilities that the art transportation service uses. See if they use high-quality packing materials, crates, trucks, warehouses and tools. You can try to visit their premises if possible and inspect their storage and handling areas, although this is very time consuming for you, and you might be better off relying on a company’s reputation and your colleague’s opinions based on previous experience.
- Price: Compare the prices of different art transportation services and see if they fit your budget. Ask for a detailed quote that breaks down the costs of each service. Be especially aware of hidden fees or extra charges that may not be included in the initial quote.
- Communication: Evaluate the communication skills and customer service of the art transportation service. See if they are responsive, courteous and professional. Ask if they have a dedicated contact person who will handle your project from start to finish. Check if they provide tracking information and updates on your shipment.
Remember that when you are looking for art transportation services, you are looking for a partner – not a vendor. Build a relationship with your transport agent and create a working relationship you can trust over time. While you will find many excellent and reputable art transportation companies, there will also be an element of personal choice and human connection. Find the company you like to work with best. This will lead to much better results.
Where can you find reputable art transportation services?
There are many art transportation services available in your country and around the world. However, not all of them may meet your standards or expectations. To help you narrow down your choices, here are some tips to help you find reputable art transportation services.
- Check out the sponsors at your professional conferences. Chances are there will be a few fine arts transportation companies there. Special tip: You don’t even need to attend the conference. Event websites will list many of the sponsors right there for all to see. They have paid to be on the webpage, so make sure you check them out!
- Find a registrar or collections manager and make friends with them. They are the staff who are most likely to be in charge of loans and exhibitions in heritage institutions, so they will probably have the most experience dealing with transportation. If you can’t find a registrar, try a preparator, art handler or private practice conservator. ARCS is a great organization to start networking with registrars and collection managers.
- Ask your professional organization for a recommendation. In some cases, organizations may have partnerships with specific companies that sponsor their events or membership. This very likely means that they are a trusted supplier.
If you have never had to hire art transportation services, trying to find one can be a daunting task. They are essential when you need to move or ship collections safely and securely. However, choosing the best art transportation service for your project can be challenging. You need to consider various factors such as reputation, experience, services, quality, price and communication. You also need to compare different art transportation services and see what they can offer based on your requirements. We hope that the tips above help you find your soulmate transportation partner who will suit your needs and expectations. If you are still looking for recommendations, don’t forget we have a free community where you can connect with collections care professionals from around the world. Don’t be afraid to drop a line and ask for advice there.
If you have any questions about environmental monitoring, integrated pest management, or just want to talk about preventative conservation, please reach out to us! Don’t forget to check out our blog or join our community of collections care professionals where you can discuss hot topics, connect with your peers or even take a course to get familiar with the Conserv platform.