Art has always been an indispensable part of human existence. Its historical and cultural significance can’t be overestimated. Even today, the impact of the global art market on other domains of life is so intense that its effect is palpable almost everywhere. Take art galleries: there are over a thousand of them in New York City alone. But does anyone know how all this functions?
For many, the entire machine called the art industry is but a chaotic system based on abstract principles governed by blind enthusiasm. In reality, everything is much more pragmatic. Roughly speaking, the art market depends on two basic elements: the people and businesses engaged in art-related activities, and those who help them to operate and grow.
The first group comprises a large variety of art lovers who dedicate their lives to sharing and collecting fine art. Art collectors, dealers, brokers, agents, gallery owners — they all foster the distribution of artworks and thus feed the global algorithm. The second group consists of intermediaries whose purpose is to ensure the proper function of the art market and enable its smooth flow. The cornerstone of this particular segment is the complex organizational structure of fine art logistics.
Art logistics is an umbrella term consisting of diverse layers of art management, administration, and transportation. In a metaphorical sense, it’s the brain and hands of the art market. First and foremost, logistics is all about the transportation of art, the industry’s most in-demand service. Everything else, whether transit insurance or art storage, is basically attached to shipping.
A careful and professional approach to handling art has always been crucial. Nowadays, however, it’s become more important than ever, as the market has become significantly larger, and professional service standards have risen. Following are the elements of how art logistics supplies the market.
A client-oriented approach. Never before have professional art shipping and moving services been so client-oriented. Thanks to the day-to-day management and development of consolidated art shuttle services, modern companies are capable of picking up and delivering art in the shortest time possible, and at much lower prices than in the recent past. The risks of mishaps are infinitesimal as well. With the help of climate-controlled trucks and specialty equipment, art shippers can now cope with almost any task.
State-of-the-art packing and crating standards. Back in the day, people didn’t have an abundance of materials suitable for securing the integrity of an art shipment. Now, companies use a wide variety of both standard and professional supplies. Globally, it has become common to opt for bioplastic packaging materials instead of conventional plastic ones. Innovations in crating are worth mentioning as well. When it comes to transportation, a custom-built wooden crate offers the best protection for art. Next-generation art packaging is a direct result of technological advances that have become possible over the years.
Modern warehouses. Purpose-designed art-storage facilities were not common in the past. In a world exposed to continuous globalization, having a dedicated warehouse unit is beneficial for both seasoned and novice art collectors. Above all, it’s much safer than storing artworks at home. More people are choosing specialized art storage facilities because they are economical and secure.
Comprehensive art installation services. Art installation is considered a significant addition to the list of basic logistics services. Many complex or large-scale artworks require a good deal of attention to detail when being installed. They require a team of specialists who are skilled in installation techniques. The stakes get even higher when a gallery owner or a museum hires a company for exhibition installation, an elaborate and laborious process. Preparations usually begin several months before the exhibition opening, so art installers must be highly accurate in their calculations.
Top-notch security. Insurance policies are probably the most traditional part of art management. There haven’t been major innovations in this particular domain over the years. What has changed, though, is the quality and friendliness of art insurance services. If you hire a reputable insurance provider, you’re no longer obliged to do mundane paperwork by yourself. Art insurance is among the most popular safety measures these days. Not only is it necessary for international transportation; it’s mandatory for local relocation of art. To ignore or neglect it is to put your artworks at risk.
Fine art logistics is gradually becoming more sophisticated and evolving into a coherent, full-fledged system. The rapid growth of the art market stimulates fine art shipping companies to work harder, incorporate new technologies, improve value-added service standards, and enhance the customer experience as much as possible.
Julia Kharchenko is content director at Fine Art Shippers, a family-operated art logistics service provider headquartered in New York City.
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