Webinar Interview with Ed Purvis of the National Portrait Gallery

This webinar interview series with art world industry experts, recorded exclusively for Sotheby’s Institute of Art, reveals the stories behind decades of experience in collecting, managing and curating collections.

In this interview with Ed Purvis, Head of Collections Services at the National Portrait Gallery, we hear his expert tips for art transport, logistics planning and communication.

Webinar Transcript

And welcome to this ArtRatio Expert Interview exclusively for Sotheby’s Institute of Art. I am delighted to be joined today by Ed Purvis, Head of Collections Services at the National Portrait Gallery in London. Ed is responsible for collections management, loans, conservation, and art handling, comprising a total team of 40 and managing 400,000 objects which includes their display and their off-site and on-site storage. So welcome Ed !

Hello, Manoj, thank you. It’s a pleasure to be with you today. So here are my three top tips when you’re wanting to transport works of art. I think it’s many of you may know already, the greatest risk to a work of art is when it is on the move, so my first tip is to plan, plan and then plan again. So you need to think about: How should the work be packed? Will it need treatment before it moves? Will it need a courier on its journey from display to store? And have you planned your routes? So from the building or whether it’s on to the truck or further field around the world.

And the second tip is to be prepared for the unexpected. So let me share a quick story with you. I once heard about a truck that was delivering a loan to a very small town and they realized that when they got there it was the only road in and out of the town and so unfortunately the truck actually didn’t couldn’t fit through, so they had to escort the loan off. So then the message there is obviously be prepared to deal with issues on the ground so if you’re going further afield with art, it’s delays at borders, vehicle breakdown so it’s important to plan for these and obviously to stay calm and assess.

The final tip I would say is communication. So, given the security around moving works of art, I’d be discreet about it, so involve only those who need to know, who are involved with it and as ever if you’re not sure whether it’s the planning stage or when you’re with the work of art itself, ask for help; make sure that it’s always a person that you can call.

Thank you very much, Ed. These are very useful tips and I hope there will be certainly illuminating to Sotheby’s Institute students. Thank you and have a good day.

Thank you, and you too.