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The $200,000 Selfie: 4 Possible Ways Pieces in Art Galleries Can Sustain Damage

To own an art gallery is to take on the important role of displaying art for potential buyers. The process usually involves signing a contract with the artist mutually agreeing to a set of terms and conditions. The last thing you want to do is inform the artist that their artwork has sustained damage while in the care of your gallery. Not only does this have the potential to tarnish your reputation, but it could even lead to a crippling lawsuit.

Although it’s not on public display, business insurance for your art gallery is one of the fundamental building blocks of running a commercial space for artwork. A thorough policy will protect against financial devastation from several of the most likely causes of damage. Here are just four possible ways pieces can sustain harm inside a gallery.



Damage from Visitors

The only thing worse than knocking over an art exhibit is having that moment go viral for the entire world to see. Earlier this year, one woman at a Los Angeles art gallery got too close to a pedestal while snapping a selfie, losing her balance and sending subsequent pedestals toppling over like dominoes. The artist estimated the resulting damage to be around $200,000.

Art galleries often allow visitors to get closer to works of art than they would in a museum. There’s an implied trust in doing so. To reduce the chances of damage from visitors, consider hanging signs, hiring security or conveying ground rules.

Fire-Inflicted Damage

In early 2017, a fire destroyed a community art gallery in Iowa in the early hours of the morning. It was currently housing artworks from 25 local artists—thousands of pieces. The owner pointed out the scope of the loss to KCRG-TV9: “It’s very upsetting to the artists, they lost lots of original artwork, and they don’t care. They’re worried about the gallery, they’re worried about what it meant to the community.”

It’s non-negotiable that galleries have an emergency plan in place, including one that anticipates fire and attempts to minimize damage to humans and property alike. But even with preparation, sometimes accidents just happen.

Damage from Water

Water damage, whether it follows a fire or results from a burst pipe, leaky roof or other source, tends to be devastating to art. Besides modernizing your gallery’s plumbing and having a plan for natural disasters, you can also streamline how you store and display art. Some archival methods involve sealing pieces so they have a fighting chance of surviving against the elements.

Staff-Induced Damage

What happens if a painting or sculpture sustains a bump in transit? Damaged paintings (even if they’re repaired to the specifications of the naked eye) lose a chunk of their value. Many collectors or buyers will choose to return a damaged piece, even if it’s “only a small chip.” It’s important to come clean about any staff-induced damage, lest you face a lawsuit down the line for misrepresentation.

Luckily, business insurance for art galleries can absorb the financial blow from many less-than-ideal situations, whether it’s something as rare as a lightning strike causing a fire or something as common as a piece getting inadvertently bumped.

Protect your gallery’s finances with an insurance policy today! CoverHound has quick, free quotes for business owners like you.

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