European Art Logistics and the Challenges of 2020/21

A challenging enough business at the best of times, art logistics has become an even more complex undertaking in these days of coronavirus, Brexit and economic uncertainty. We asked the experts from hasenkamp for their insights

  • How have European logistics specialists adapted to the challenges of 2020?

The impact of the coronavirus on art logistics and storage has to be judged differently. Transport, especially international transport, is of course very much related to the airline industry. Due to the reduction in flights and therefore available capacity, airfreight charges have gone up and continue to fluctuate. But overall one can say that we still offer our airport services, and guarantee the same high security level as before the crisis.

  • What should collectors look for in an art logistics and storage company?

The storage facilities remain the same, and collectors should be looking for financially solid companies, with a good reputation who are offering high standards. If this is guaranteed then there should be no risk for storage items. The art world has shown its resilience and found ways to adapt to the current situation around Covid-19 with online auctions and, where possible, online fairs.

hasenkamp logo

  • Has demand for art logistics services been maintained?

The hasenkamp group has seen a resurgence in demand for art transport after a decline earlier in 2020, and expects demand to continue to rise into 2021. Most fine art is flown from and to Europe through Luxembourg, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Munich, Brussels and Liege – all locations where the hasenkamp group has offices located in close proximity to the airport. With weekly shuttles to hubs such as Paris, London and Basel/Zurich, fine art can be distributed at low costs in a short time frame.

  • How has the coronavirus pandemic affected the European art market?

Though coronavirus has had a major impact on the exhibitions business, the hasenkamp group has experienced steady demand for storage from private collectors and logistic projects with postponed timelines. With its headquarters located in Cologne and 37 branches worldwide, the hasenkamp group can manage complex movements both domestically and worldwide. Its trained and certified employees are engaged with movement of paintings, sculptures, installations and cultural assets of all kinds.

  • What hasenkamp projects have been of particular interest this year?

One of the hasenkamp group’s most complex projects in progress since 2017 is the transportation of sensitive objects from Berlin’s Ethnological Museum and Museum of Asian Art to the Humboldt Forum in Berlin-Mitte, with an expected completion in 2021. This project ranges from the planning and production of transportation crates to the secure packaging and relocation of large-format objects like boats, houses, totem and ancestor poles. To prevent pests from entering the Humboldt Forum, all the objects from the Ethnological Museum are cleaned by experienced restorers and subjected to nitrogen treatment in a foil tent. Large items are transported to Berlin by special transportation and lifted into the exhibition rooms using a haulage scaffold and a gantry crane.

hasenkamp crane

A particular challenge during this logistical project was the transportation of the Luf Boat (seen top of page). With a length of 15.20 meters and a weight of 8,000 kg, it is not only the heaviest, but also the biggest and most sensitive, object in the collection.

The boat was packed in a 2.5x16x1.4m crate for transportation from Berlin’s Dahlem neighbourhood to the construction site in Berlin Mitte using a special transporter. A specially constructed hoist was used to manoeuvre the boat, complete with packaging, into the hall. There it remains in its transportation crate until work on the site is completed in late 2021.

This is by no means the hasenkamp group’s only complex project. For 20 years, the company has worked to pack and transport archaeological discoveries from Jordan for worldwide exhibitions. Items weighing up to 1000kg were packed in crates that were manufactured in advance at in in-house carpentry facility in Germany, and shipped to New York for the exhibition The World Between Empires at the Met.

For the Louvre Abu Dhabi, a team of more than 40 hasenkamp group art technicians and coordinators set up all its fine art exhibits in an extremely short time-frame between first announcement and opening ceremony.

hasenkamp truck

  • What technical innovations has the hasenkamp group introduced?

The hasenkamp group’s R&D department has developed rentable, climate-controlled crates and specialized, patented object specific packaging for all climate zones, and is developing a new environmentally controlled crate made of sustainable and certified wood with no use of plastics.

The hasenkamp group’s many worldwide storage facilities include a new warehouse in the Netherlands which is CCTV secured, climate controlled by underfloor heating and a humidity control system, and environmentally friendly – 6,000 solar panels make it completely energy self-sufficient, with the excess put back into the grid to supply green energy.

hasenkamp panels

  • What challenges will the art logistics market have to tackle going forward?

Even that which must be the bugbear of many European companies – Brexit – is being taken into account in the daily operations of the hasenkamp group. Its customs departments constantly monitor developments from both legal and bureaucratic points of view and are fully aware of new requirements as they arise. Whatever the challenges, the hasenkamp group is ready to play its part in making sure that art can maintain its invaluable role in people’s lives.

Find out more about hasenkamp here.

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