Museums Used to Pay Huge Fees for Personal Couriers to Travel With Major Loans – New Technology Could Mean They Don’t Have to

The acceptance of virtual couriers is rapidly transforming the way artworks travel around the world.

Anne Barz, the head registrar at the Museum Barberini in Potsdam, spent much of the past few weeks on FaceTime as 26 conservators from all over the world watched her team install an exhibition of more than 100 artworks, including many by Rembrandt.

Due to the pandemic, each conservator—from institutions including the Mauritshuis in The Hague, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, Kunstmuseum Basel, and the Albertina Museum in Vienna, as well as several US institutions—sat at a desk in a home office or elsewhere and remotely oversaw the installation of the work they were responsible for.

In pre-pandemic times, they would almost certainly have been in attendance. And hanging this show was even harder than deinstalling the 40 Monet loans the Potsdam museum had to ship out last summer, Barz says, which was also done with conservators calling in.

But this is the new normal.

The occasion was the exhibition “Rembrandt’s Orient,” which examines the Dutch artist’s Eurocentric fascination with the far East (to where Rembrandt never traveled).

And notably, it is the first exhibition that the Museum Barberini has had to install almost exclusively with virtual couriers.

“The partner at the other end knows the painting so well that they can recognize the cracks through our call,” Barz tells Artnet News. “Sometimes, we need instructions, but mostly it is just a trust issue,” she says.

Read more information in this article by Artnet here.

Artnet is an art market website. It is operated by Artnet Worldwide Corporation, which has headquarters in New York City, in the United States, and is owned by Artnet AG, a German publicly traded company based in Berlin that is listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange.

Photo: Artworks at the Museum Barberini in Potsdam by David von Becker.

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