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Subject: Couriers

Couriers

From: Tom Dixon <tom.dixon>
Date: Wednesday, October 29, 2003
Kate Woollett <katew [at] artgallery__wa__gov__au> writes

>Here at the Art Gallery of Western Australia conservation staff are
>currently reviewing procedures for couriering works of art
>interstate and overseas.  We are interested in what policies other
>institutions have instigated, what training couriers receive and
>which staff members travel with the works (i.e. is it always a
>conservator?).  We would like to hear from other institutions as we
>are trying to establish what is the current practice out there in
>the real world.

The selection of couriers is well documented by the American
Association of Museums (AAM) and other museum organisations and your
registrar will no doubt have copies of the internationally accepted
guidelines.  Basically, couriers are selected from curators,
conservators and registrars, each of whom bring their professional
and personal expertise to assuring the safety of the item in
transit.  Value is an issue as insurance usually requires items over
a certain value be accompanied.  Fragility and the complexity or
risk of the route are also factors in selection of couriers.
Facility with local language, local contacts in case something goes
wrong, physical endurance for very long flights and truck trips and
other personal characteristics may contribute significantly to who
would be the best courier for a particular trip.

It is easy to assume that a courier trip is a pleasurable junket
except by experienced couriers.  In my time I've spent 72 hours in a
single aircraft existing on cokes and snickers bars, 24 hours on a
cargo flight with no food, been on one of the first 747's made and
something fell off every time we took off, nearly run down by a
forklift in the tarmac in the rain at night protecting my cargo,
landed in the wrong city, been bumped from loading at the last
minute, and generally had my character built.

The main issue is that couriers are focussed primarily on providing
safety for the object and managing very real risks.  Courier trips
should never be used as a cheap way to get a staff member to a place
they want to go for some other reason.

Tom Dixon
Melbourne Australia


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                  Conservation DistList Instance 17:39
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Received on Wednesday, 29 October, 2003

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