Special feature: Behind the Scenes of Moving Masterworks from the Beaverbrook Art Gallery!

(Photos and text by Bailey Campbell and Beaverbrook Art Gallery staff)

In a previous special feature post we shared a behind the scenes look at how artwork is transported from one exhibition site to another. This time we thought we would share with everyone what we do here in the gallery in preparation for sending our artworks to other galleries.

This time we are sending away our entire Masterworks of the Beaverbrook Art Gallery exhibition to various venues in the United States and Canada over a period of three years. This exhibition features seventy-five works of art by world-renowned artists, such as Gainsborough, Constable, Copley, Delacroix, Reynolds, Sargent, Sickert, Sisley, Sutherland, Turner, Freud, and Dali, and by seminal artists in the history of Canadian art, such as Krieghoff, Morrice, Harris, and Carr, and many others.

Here we will share some special behind-the-scenes shots and information from our Art Preparator team and Registrar as they prepare Masterworks for its tour!

(more after the jump!)

Before the art can reach its destination it first must undergo the process of packing. Art Preparator Greg Charlton and Assistant Art Preparator Troy Haines are responsible for this process.

First, artworks are secured within their travel trays with Oz Clips™, which not only secure the artworks within its storage tray, but can also safely hang the artworks once at their destination. The Oz Clips™ eliminate the need for excess packaging within the storage crate, and create a much safer travelling environment for the artworks.

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Mounting OzClips (TM) to an artwork (top), and securing them to the tray (bottom).

Greg and Troy then encase the artwork in a plastic wrap, which creates a micro-environment that protects the artwork from sudden temperature changes. Registrar Sarah Dick explains that works of art should be stored at 20-22 degrees centigrade and 50% (+/- 5%) Relative Humidity. Temperature and humidity changes can lead to damage  and deterioration of artworks.

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Creating a microenvironment for a Masterwork by sealing the tray in plastic

The travel trays are made so that they can be stacked safely in the foam-lined storage crate. They are lowered into the storage crate horizontally to make it easier for the Art Preparators, as well as to ensure the safety of the artwork.

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Art works being (carefully!) stacked in a crate.

Within these storage crates, the art must be properly secured to prevent irreparable damage. Works that have glass glazings need to be taped; this prevents damage to the work should the glazing shatter during transit. Un-fixed works done with loose media can also be a challenge as they are highly friable and so can flake. Artworks should travel flat, but also must be glazed with glass due to static created by Plexiglas. Glass also needs to travel upright to prevent it from shattering, which can be a challenge.  Canvas is also prone to vibrating during transit and should travel upright and parallel to the side of the vehicle.

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Once a crate is full, the lid is lowered on and secured for transport, at which point the crate can be returned to an upright (vertical) position.

The crates themselves also need to be stored and moved in specific ways. For instance, they need to be strapped to the side of the truck that they are travelling in, and in the case of works travelling overseas, it is important to make sure that they are strapped into the shipping container in the correct flight direction.

Finally the artwork is ready to be shipped and shared with other galleries around the world!

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