How to Move a Masterpiece... via the Guardian

How to Move a Masterpiece… via the Guardian


What happens when a forklift goes through your Picasso? By Andrew Dickson


"Early one morning last summer, I stood inside a museum in Antwerp and watched as a painting was hung on the wall. When I walked in, the gallery was empty. To one side, there was a crate about a metre square. Royal blue, it was unmarked apart from a code number and a yellow stencilled sign reading “Lato da Aprire / Open this Side”. Although its home is nominally Florence, the painting inside was a seasoned traveller: it had arrived the night before from Sicily, by road and under armed guard. The box looked entirely unremarkable. That was the point, I was told.

Abruptly, there was a commotion: the curator of the exhibition, a visiting curator, a translator, an expert in Renaissance art, plus a clutch of hangers-on, burst through the doors. Two art handlers wearing gloves and sober expressions strode over to a table; on it, pliers, tape measures, and an electric screwdriver had been placed with a precision that would not have been out of place in an operating theatre.

While the group noisily exchanged paperwork and air kisses, the visiting curator – who had accompanied the painting on its journey – gave the handlers sotto voce instructions. The crate was laid flat on the floor, its lid unscrewed and the foam packing lifted out. The screws that would attach the painting to the wall were held up for inspection; she gave a curt nod of assent. The only sound was the squeak of one handler’s trainers on the floor." -Andrew Dickson via The Guardian