artwork inventory

Fine Art Storage

Art Storage

When to Store Artwork

Corporate entities are constantly changing – whether a company is growing or downsizing, their art collection often needs to be taken off-site while these changes are put in place. With many newly renovated offices, there is a culture shift towards openness and collaboration; this manifests in design features like glass walls, interactive write-on walls, and open floor plans with fewer traditional artwork locations. While these adjustments are implemented, storing artwork gives our clients flexibility to install on their schedule.

During construction and relocations, we assist our clients with short and long-term storage options for collections. We manage the process from concept to completion and coordinate artwork removal with building management and the construction team. From there we transport the artwork to a secure storage facility, designed specifically to protect artwork.

Preserving Artwork

We store artwork in state-of-the-art facilities across the country. Protective measures are taken to preserve the artwork, including climate control options to provide the ideal temperature, humidity, and circulation needed for optium archival conditions.

Artwork remains safely packed in it’s storage area. Custom crates, armatures, and shelves can be built to accommodate the specific needs of a sculpture, painting, or artifact. Archival materials are used to protect against acidity and infestations.

Best Practices for Organization

Storage facilities are expansive, and great care is taken to ensure each artwork is accounted for. We use digital databases to maintain an inventory system that tracks details for each item in storage. This can include barcodes indicating the precise location in the storage area, contact information for the project manager, images, and condition reports.

Condition reports

These reports are a key part of art consulting and managing an art collection. When artwork first arrives at the storage location, a condition report is written as part of the initial inventory process. The reports make note of scratches, color inconsistencies, paint cracking, warped canvases, and other noticeable imperfections in an artwork or frame. Images are taken of the noted nuances when the condition report is prepared and are included in the inventory.

When artwork is ready to leave storage, a second condition report is generated. This report should review the original notes, and indicate the current status of the artwork. These updated reports are especially important if an artwork is being removed for conservation or reframing. Additional photos may be taken and added to the artwork’s inventory record.

Diligently employing these best practices when storing artwork leads to reliable records and an efficient system that keeps a collection safe. Using a professional fine art storage facility protects our clients’ investment in their art collection and makes it easy to manage their assets during office construction, renovation, or relocation.  

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Custom Artwork Inventory

Inventory Example

Artwork inventory systems are a key tool for collection management. A well-constructed inventory is a resource for a wide variety of projects, including coordinating artwork relocations, calculating values for insurance, and generating documentation. We create custom-built databases for our client’s inventories to ensure we track and record every detail about their fine art assets.

Managing Artwork as an Asset

While part of an art collections’ value comes from its aesthetic impact, it’s also important to be mindful of an artwork’s financial value, especially in large collections. As a corporate art advisory, we encourage our clients to treat their artwork as an asset, and assigning each work a unique number is the starting point for building an inventory. Depending on the client’s preference, we can add barcodes or RFID chips to each object that matches their asset number. When scanned, the client can access each item’s unique catalog entry in their database.

Inventory systems also help with curatorial projects. It’s easy to generate a report based on artwork dimensions and style details, helping us quickly assess what artwork would be the best fit for a new or renovated space. Each entry includes documentation images, and can be classified by media, art historical movement, and frame style to efficiently determine which group of artwork will create a meaningful addition to a space.

Insurance Considerations

An important component of managing fine art assets includes maintaining records of each work’s provenance. While provenance is necessary to determine an artwork’s authenticity, the primary reason we are diligent about including it is to understand the financial history of the art. Knowing the source, price, and time period in which each artwork was purchased helps appraisers determine the work’s current value. Appraisal data is also included in the database, along with reports that calculate the total current value of the collection, and how the value has changed. We recommend updating appraisals every couple of years in order to maintain the correct amount insurance coverage; this often saves clients money, as most entities tend to overestimate and overpay for the insurance they require.


Another advantage to maintaining an accurate database is its reliability for tracking artwork movements. In Chicago, there are dozens of new high-rises being constructed for commercial leases, and we use database reports to verify every artwork is accounted for during a relocation. Temporary movements can be included as well, such as transportation to be reframed or conserved. We note the dates of each movement, the staff members who assisted, and confirm their installation location when they return. Artwork in storage is accounted for as well, with notations about the climate-control specifications and how the artwork is packed or crated.

Ultimately, having a custom inventory system saves our clients money. We’re able to generate reports, analyze data, and coordinate logistics quickly and efficiently when we can utilize a company’s database to access artwork information.

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