Why Museums Need Specialist Logistics

Factors to consider

What happens when a museum wants to move or relocate a display?

When moving precious and often valuable artworks, it is vital to have specialists with the relevant skills and experience to complete each task efficiently with the upmost care and attention to detail.

Before any painting or object can be moved, each work and its surroundings require a complete assessment by our technical team in charge of the project. There are many factors to be taken into consideration for each object:

Fragility: If the artwork or artefacts are fragile they will require additional preparation from the museum team and our experienced technicians to ensure the safety of the piece for future generations. In some cases, bespoke equipment and forms of support must be created to complete the task. The structure of an object greatly determines the method of handling and moving.

Weight: The number of technicians working on the project will be determined by the weight of an artefact. Can the work be moved manually, or is specialist lifting equipment required?

Age: Knowing the history of an item is crucial in determining how it should be moved. In many cases, objects could be on display in the same location for many years, so any movement could unsettle the piece and may cause lasting damage. The museum’s own archives can be an invaluable source of information.


Surrounding space: Rooms holding a collection of paintings or objects vary greatly in size, so it is important to access the area before work can begin. This can have an impact on the overall timescale of the project and can greatly determine what equipment can be used.  It is very important to have a clear work area and sufficient transporting space to enable work to be moved freely from other objects and displays. Once large objects are removed it is often surprising how much space can be made available. This is most obvious when packing component sections of large-scale pieces.

Building structure: Any building with listed status means the protection of the fabric of the building is of specific concern. In most cases our team would usually proceed with guidance from Historic England. This can dramatically affect the way a collection is moved or re-installed.

Expect the unexpected: Our technicians must be prepared for any challenges that arise, especially when handling historic works. Every project is different, and requirements can change at any moment. It is of great importance that the team resolve any unexpected concerns promptly and cautiously.

Any of these ten factors can be challenging for technicians and museum staff. They highlight the many logistical stages that must be considered when relocating collections, and the importance of detailed planning and research before a project begins.

Please contact us if you would like any further information on how we handle, move, transport and store works of art in the Kingdom.

Assessing location: Before any work can begin, our Technical Manager must confirm what part of the building the objects are currently placed and whether it is easily accessible. They must work out how the objects can be removed from its current position.

Knowing what existing lighting is available in each room is incredibly important when deciding how any item or collection is moved. In many cases, additional conversation lighting is required to ensure the safe movement of the works.

Destination: It may sound obvious, but a large part of our technician’s role is to assess where the objects are being moved to. The final location can affect the quote of the project, the timescale, the number of staff and crate preparation.

Bespoke crating and packaging: Are the objects staying in the museum, or are they being transported to another site locally or oversees? If they are staying in the museum, the technicians must determine whether they are being placed in short-term or long-term storage, as each option requires a different method of packing and conservation. Careful planning and precise handling is vital, with the safety of the work being paramount.

Timescale: Efficient planning to ensure work is completed by a specific deadline is of great importance to our team and the museum. Possible challenges which may occur during a project must be taken into consideration. Completing a project on time is also crucial to developing a strong and long-lasting relationship with our clients.