Especially when expensive paintings are at stake packaging must fulfil its inherent function particularly well: protection. Photo: Una Laurencic / pexels.com
How do you safely pack US$ 110.5 million?
There are several sensitive areas in the packaging world. These include first and foremost, of course, food packaging which is subject to a multitude of regulations governing its material composition and performance. Equally demanding is the pharmaceutical industry where packaging simultaneously serves a protective purpose for drugs and is designed to prevent improper use by children or counterfeiters, for example. Lots of attention also needs to be paid to packaging hazardous substances such as chemical products.
But caution is also called for in another market that does not automatically come to mind first: the art market. Especially here where sales worth billions are made with paintings and sculptures packaging plays an extremely prominent role – for both buyers and sellers alike.
With DuPont’s pliable material Tyvek® you can not only produce but also package art. Photo: DuPont
Recently, at Sotheby’s a Japanese billionaire paid US$ 110.5 million for a painting by Afro-American artist Jean-Michel Basquiat who died young - making his work of art one of the most expensive in art history although it was only created after 1980. For auctioned artworks like this but also for the transport of museum artworks extreme attention is paid to packaging. Every risk of damage done to these luxury goods must be ruled out.
Not all art is the same ...
... and not all packaging is either. This is why art transport specialists offer custom concepts for “travelling artefacts” – that are even accompanied by a courier, if requested. These works are sometimes quite unusual in format or their materials extremely filigree or fragile – which is why in most cases tailor-made packaging solutions are offered.
As a matter of principle all artefacts not only have to be protected from outside damage but also from moisture and temperature fluctuations. Special climate-control safes or air-conditioned crates as well as padded painting crates and transport frames are usually employed that – as a matter of principle – should also comply with the IPPC standards for overseas transports.
Even personal protective equipment and sleeping bags for the homeless and refugees can be manufactured from the flexible Tyvek® material. Photo: DuPont / http://tyvek-blog.materialconcepts.com
‘Vibro-Schock-Safe’ is a transport crate specifically developed to protect from shocks. Designed by Prof. Dr. Ing W. Stühler from the Technical University of Berlin, the crate comprises a platform isolated against vibration so that any vibrations caused during transport are not transmitted to the artefact.
Optimal protection for transport and storage of paintings and sculptures is also provided by a non-woven called Tyvek® originally known from completely different applications. Thanks to its robust and hard-wearing material properties teamed with lightness and durability the spun-bonded olefin fabric made by DuPont has so far usually been used for such applications as building protection, personal protective equipment, medical packaging and for graphic art. Thanks to its favourable barrier properties this fabric is also attractive for museums, galleries and art logistics providers. The ph-neutral, non-fibrous material allows condensation water to evaporate while protecting against damage caused from outside. The non-woven can be moulded into any desired shape and its smooth surface avoids scratches on the valuable pieces as well as on their owners’ souls.