January is here and so are New Year’s Resolutions! Whether or not you have set any new goals, this is a great time of year to review your collection management practices. To help you get started, here are five tips, as well as some resources to help you put your plans into action.
- Update your disaster preparedness plan: When disaster strikes, decisions must be made quickly to minimize damage to the collection. With record high losses caused by natural disasters in 2017, reviewing your disaster plan should be a top goal for the New Year. First, update the contact information of your emergency response team, including art handlers, storage facilities, and conservators. Second, review your list of priority items. Are there items to add or remove? Has their location changed? Be sure to update any special considerations for moving the items, including tools required for security hardware, the location of custom crates, or details on how display cases may be locked and where keys are kept. Third, consider contracting a specialized storage facility that can allocate handlers, vehicles and storage space exclusively for your collection in the event of a disaster. Finally, ensure your household is prepared to respond and recover by reviewing updates with them and providing any necessary staff training.
- Update your inventory: Maintaining an inventory is an on-going process and one of the best practices of managing a collection. If you are up for the challenge, consider these helpful tips. Otherwise, consider hiring an appraiser to complete a thorough inventory for you and consider the benefits of uploading your inventory to a cloud-based or online asset management system. Most importantly, store a backup version of the updated inventory at a secure secondary location.
- Get an updated appraisal: Understanding the value of your collection forms the basis for any strategic decision, whether monetizing, estate planning or updating your insurance coverage. When consulting with an appraiser, it is important to share with them how you intend to use the appraisal so they can provide the appropriate report (or reports) to meet your objective(s). To locate a qualified appraiser near you, consult the member databases of ASA (American Society of Appraisers), AAA (American Association of Appraisers), or ISA (International Association of Appraisers). Always confirm with the appraiser that their reports are USPAP compliant.
- Inspect the hardware: Out of sight, out of mind, but the hardware is the only thing preventing your painting from falling off the wall. As the hardware ages, wires can become brittle and nails used for hooks can loosen in the wall. If the hardware has not been updated in the past several years, consult a professional art handler to inspect your collection and make any necessary updates.
- Consult a conservator: Whether maintaining your collection of works on paper or outdoor sculptures, consider enlisting the assistance of a conservator. Many conservators offer annual or seasonal inspections to monitor changes in preservation conditions and make recommendations for improvements. To locate a qualified conservator, consult the AIC member database.
Stephanie McNeil is Senior Fine Art and Collections Specialist for Chubb Personal Risk Services. She is based in New York City.