Art collectors flocking to Florida in the past few years have had an entourage of art galleries and auction houses following close behind. Perhaps most impacted by recent developments are Florida’s established fine art storage facilities. Predominantly clustered in West Palm Beach and Miami, South Florida storage facilities are reporting their strongest years yet, as I discovered in my conversations with their facility managers. An art storage market busting at the seams will be challenging for the art collector, especially in the event of a hurricane when those who waited until the last minute may be unable to secure climate-controlled trucks and professional art handlers to prepare and move their collection to safety.
Based on discussions with leading fine art storage facilities in Florida, here are some key findings and tips to help you protect your art collection year-round and during hurricane season:
- Develop a working relationship with a vetted, local fine art storage facility. Across the board, fine art storage facilities prioritize clients who they know, and who use their services throughout the year. If not sure which storage facility to work with, contact your insurance carrier for a recommendation to a fine art storage facility. Some insurance carriers will conduct on-site surveys to confirm that the facility meets certain standards, such as having a backup generator that supports climate controls and an established emergency preparedness plan.
- Request prefabricated crates be stored year-round, even when they are empty. Having your local fine art storage facility create and store custom crates throughout the year is to ensure there will be enough storage space available for your items. This has the added benefit of efficiency: the more familiar the art handlers are with your art collection and property, the more quickly they can pack and move your collection. Also keep in mind that storing crates does not need to be an “all or nothing” approach. If overwhelmed by the idea of storing empty crates for every piece, establish of list of select works of art, prioritized by value (monetary, historical, or sentimental).
- Arrange to have works of art seasonally stored at a fine art facility at the onset of hurricane season. The best protection for your collection of fine art and outdoor sculptures is to remove them from the path of a hurricane well before one arrives. Many Florida fine art storage facilities offer tailored services for seasonal fine art storage, which includes packing the collection as you prepare to leave Florida during the hottest summer months and reinstalling the collection before your return in the fall.
- Fine art storage facilities may not have capacity to help collectors who wait until the last minute. Once in the path of a hurricane, fine art storage facilities divert their attention to preparing their warehouses, preserving valuable resources (such as fuel), and implementing important life safety measures. The fact is, resources quickly dwindle, and logistics are complicated by road closures, evacuation routes, and limited manpower as professional art handlers ultimately need to get home to their families.
- Seasonal fine art storage is only one aspect of preparing your art collection for a hurricane. From advance to final preparations, you should also review these tips and guidance on protecting your art and other valuables from severe storms and floods.
Stephanie McNeil Singh is Senior Fine Art & Collections Specialist, Chubb Personal Risk Services.