A six-step guide to transporting priceless artwork

What’s the best way to transport a multi-million dollar painting?

Some of the shipments we receive are worth just as much or more, and it’s our job to see that they get from A to B without a hitch in the system. So how does it work?

  1. The packaging of a high-value painting is handled by a freight forwarder that specialises in fine arts logistics. They will determine how a piece should be packed depending on its condition and the transit environment using materials like corrugated cardboard, plywood crates, ethafoam, cellulose wadding and glassine.
  2. Once packed, the freight forwarder will frequently offer a variety of trucking options to get the artwork to our facility, including sole-use, part-load or consolidated vehicles which come fully alarmed and with GPS tracking systems, as well as climate control and air-ride suspension.
  3. Often, the shipper will request for an art courier to accompany the shipment. Once the piece has arrived at our secure facility, the courier is able to visually monitor the artwork from when it’s unloaded off the truck, through to the moment the painting is secured in the hold.
  4. A ground handling agent will also be on hand to watch the artwork being built into a suitable cargo unit (ranging from wooden pallets to AKE and AKH containers), while preparation of the aircraft is supervised by our own teams of highly-trained staff.
  5. From there, cargo agents will build the unit, sometimes covering the artwork in polythene so no water can seep in, ensuring the straps are secured down and the weight is distributed evenly.
  6. In the case of extremely sensitive pieces, the art courier is allowed airside to witness the artwork being loaded onto the aircraft. At the destination, and with the authorisation of airport authorities, the piece is not offloaded until the art courier is on the tarmac to witness it, and the process of extracting the painting from the unit begins.

We’re fortunate enough to have worked with some of the biggest names in the business, from the British Museum and the National Gallery to boutique and independent galleries around the world.

If you’re looking to move high-value goods, find out more about our Secure product here.