Custodianship – The Art of Owning Art

In our previous Collector Series posts I discussed how to start an art collection, and how to buy art wisely. Once you’ve started your fine art collection you become a custodian.  Custodianship is where the joys of collecting art meet the responsibilities of owning art. Here are four core strategies to help you both enjoy your collection and know it is well protected.

Handling and Display
Any good gallery should be able to provide novice collectors with information regarding moving and shipping artwork from their walls to yours. Once artworks are at your home choosing which walls and deciding on appropriate pedestals for sculpture is something you may wish to discuss with the place you purchased your artwork at. You’ll need the proper hardware for hanging paintings and watercolors. Or an appropriate pedestal for sculpture. Many factors come into play when considering where to display a piece to its best advantage, so feel free to request guidance if you need to.  Last, but certainly not least, is lighting. Ask your gallery professional what they suggest regarding making your pieces you’ve purchased look their very best.

Keeping Records
This should go without saying, but it’s surprising how many collectors neglect to do this. For each artwork you purchase it is important to keep the paperwork for that specific item. We also recommend you photograph the work once it is in your home. As your collection grows we feel it is a good idea to have a listing of your entire collection, including photos. You’ll want to keep two copies – one that is on site as well as off site.

Monetary Safeguards
When you purchase an artwork, the gallery you’re buying it from should be able to provide you with an insurance replacement value appraisal. Check in with your insurance broker as you will most likely need to have a separate rider for your art collection.

Physical Safeguards
Climate control is important which includes controlling light, as well as moisture and temperature. These days we’re in a golden age of security with a plethora of alarm companies and technology that will help you sleep at night while your collection remains safe, whether you are at home or away. Finally, if your work needs any conservation or restoration the gallery you purchased the item from should be able to suggest a preferred vendor who has professional qualifications that will make sure that your art remains in the best condition possible.

A good art custodian creates a plan, enacts the plan, keeps it updated, and also considers succession. You know your collection and your collecting goals the best, which makes you the  perfect person to be a good custodian.

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