Logistics in all its Forms

How do your Works of Art travel ?

How do your Works of Art travel ?
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Gérard Kohler

Gérard Kohler is Director of the Fine Art Department at Harsch. After obtaining his federal diploma as an export expert, he joined Harsch in 2001.


Transporting a work of art is a carefully planned operation. Many criteria need to be taken into consideration and will determine the choice of means of transport. At Harsch, our priority is the client’s demands.

Do you prefer transport by sea, air or land? The client, whether a private collector or a museum can choose the means of transport of his work of art. “Unlike hubs, those enormous transfer points for an impressive quantity of parcels, we offer tailor-made transport to our clients”, explains Gérard Kohler, director of the works of art department. A client may be constricted by a deadline or a budget… He may demand a wooden crate, or for his work of art to be transported to New York before the following Friday, or simply tell us that there’s no hurry…

Secondly, the nature and value of the work of art, the level of security required and the stipulations of the insurance companies are carefully studied. Gérard Kohler adds: “We also have to take into account the political situation and customs regulations which can sometimes complicate our work.” On occasions, a security guard travels all the way with the work of art, or for instance, until it is stored into the hold of an aircraft.

The choice of transport is directed by four main principles: the shortest distance of travel; the shortest journey; the security of the object must be guaranteed, and finally, any handling must be kept to a minimum.

Vehicles designed for Works of Art

Transport by road is preferred for two thirds of the works of art moved. “Our vehicles are specially designed for the transport of works of art. They are air-conditioned, have reinforced suspension and they are equipped with a security system and GPS tracker”, adds Gérard Kohler. The procedures are effective: if the transporters have to stop overnight, the vehicles are parked in secured locations. The customer can demand exclusive transport of the work or works of art.

Another means of conveyance, transport by air, has suffered a lot since the beginning of the pandemic. Due to the important decrease in air traffic, it has become more and more difficult to avoid transfer points. But all the security measures are taken to ensure the safe transportation of an object. If it’s not too big, a transporter will take it into the aircraft. If the object is too large, it will have to go into the hold, inevitably in a wooden crate. Sometimes, a security guard will travel all the way with the work of art, or at least until it is loaded into the hold of an aircraft.

The third means of conveyance available, chosen for a small number of works of art is transport by sea. This is suitable for objects that are either heavy or very large, and are not fragile or sensitive to climatic variations and humidity. This means of transport is ideal for objects in marble or stainless steel.

Harsch or Three Generations of Fine Art Moving

According to Gérard Kohler: “By definition, works of art are of an inestimable value. They can also be extremely fragile. Ceramics, ancient mirrors, glass, works of art created out of neon… cannot be exposed to vibrations or shocks. This is for us a very big responsibility which we have been undertaking with professionalism for three generations. Harsch offers to its clients liability, security and tailor-made solutions.”

The pandemic has engendered a decrease in transport to the United-States or Asia, but on the other hand, transport in Switzerland and Europe has increased a lot. A blessing in disguise? Probably, as it has given Harsch the chance to be better known locally. However, the company remains faithful to its clients and is set to meet the demands of museums and international clients which will no doubt recommence again… shortly?