Case Study: Munnings Art Museum

29 October 2019

In Spring 2019, we had the pleasure of delivering the works of celebrated British painter Alfred Munnings for an exhibition at the Munnings Art Museum at Castle House, his former family home in Essex.

Behind the Lines: Alfred Munnings, War Artist, 1918 looks at the works Munnings was commissioned to create by Max Aitken, Lord Beaverbrook in the final year of the First World War. His sketches, drawings and paintings depicting the Canadian Cavalry Brigade and the Canadian Forestry Corps, bought by the Canadian government, first went on display at London’s Royal Academy in 1919 and brought significant exposure to the artist. A century later, and the exhibition at the Munnings Art Museum marks this pivotal period in the artist’s career.

The 41 works on show, usually housed in the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa, were originally moved to the UK in late 2018 following significant frame restoration. We were contacted by the Canadian War Museum’s loans registrar to tender our services in moving the artworks from their first temporary exhibition venue at the National Army Museum in London to their eventual destination at the Munnings Art Museum.

In March 2019, ahead of the start of the exhibition, we planned, organised and carried out the shipment of all works to Essex. This required the handling of all necessary administration involved in holding an exhibition of internationally loaned works; this included obtaining a tax suspension from the UK government’s National Import Reliefs Unit to cover the loan from the museum. Our UK Museum Operations Director, Amanda Sharp, directed the project’s administration and practicalities, and was in contact with the museum registrar in Canada and the team at Munnings Art Museum to facilitate all stages of the shipment from start to finish.

We transported the collection of 41 works in 4ft x 4ft x 9ft custom-built crates from London to Essex, a journey of approximately two hours. While there are unique complexities that come with delivering to what was formerly a family home (as opposed to delivering to a purpose-built museum or gallery), our experience working with private clients meant we were more than up to the task! One of our 3.5 tonne vehicles was skilfully navigated through the narrow gate onto the Museum estate, moving it as close as possible to the Tudor and Georgian building. Carrying the crated works through some restrictive doors and corridors, we finally delivered the works to the exhibition space. Our art technicians often carry out the hanging of exhibitions for clients, but on this occasion an art technician from the Canadian War Museum was on site to oversee the hanging of the works.

Three days later, we returned to pick up the crates from the museum for storage in one of our fine art facilities in London. A successful job carried out to the satisfaction of all involved!

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