Frequently asked questions
What is collections management? Why is it important?
Collections management refers to both the physical care of the artworks you own, but also the care of the information related to that artwork. In addition to ensuring that the artworks are well preserved, collections management is also concerned with how the artworks are documented and preserving any documentation related to it. This includes taking quality photographs of the work, archiving important documents like certificates of authenticity and recording the provenance of the artwork. You can think of provenance as the history of the artwork. It is the journey that the artwork took from the artist’s studio to your collection.
After documenting each artwork individually, it is important to organise the collection as a whole. This involves creating detailed inventory lists, including where and how each artwork is stored. Lastly it is important to file and digitise your documents so that it can be easily accessed in the future and prevents them from being lost or damaged.
All of this is important as it helps you keep track of what is in your collection, where it is and the history of each artwork. However, more importantly all of this information is useful in proving the authenticity of the artworks in your collection. Provenance information and documents are used by authenticators and potential buyers in assessing the quality and authenticity of your artworks. Keeping all this information in a safe and organised manner will help greatly in the future, should you ever want to sell or donate your artworks.
How do I get started?
Each artwork and each collection is unique. The first step is to assess your collection to identify what is needed to properly document it. You can contact us to arrange a site visit. One of our art technicians will look over your collection with you and the workspace available. We recommend conducting the documentation and tagging where the artworks are to minimize the risk of damage during transport. Our art technician will see what is needed to safely handle the works, photograph them, tag them and return them to your walls or storage. From there we will discuss with you a potential plan and schedule to safely handle and document each artwork.
Contact us to schedule an assessment of your collection.
What is the process of documenting my collection?
After assessing your collection, we will assign a site team to you based on the needs of your collection. There will be a team leader who will be your main contact point for the project. The process that will be undertaken is as follows:
1. Identify all the artworks to be documented and tagged
2. De-install or remove artworks from storage
3. Photo-document each artwork
4. Complete security tagging for each artwork
5. Re-Install each artwork or repack and return each artwork to storage.
6. Scan supporting documents, such as certificates of authenticity
7. Create your account on Art Provenance’s database software
8. Upload all images, details and documents to your account
At the end of this process, all of your artworks will be photographed, tagged and uploaded to your Art Provenance account. You will have a complete inventory of your collection that is accessible online complete with digital copies of your collections most important documents. Most importantly each artwork will be uniquely identifiable via Art Provenance’s security tagging technology.
How do I get an estimate to have my collection documented?
Every artwork and every collection has unique needs that have to be considered. In order to give you a quotation, we will need to first conduct an assessment of you collection. After identifying the number and nature of artworks to be documented we will be able to provide an estimate to you. This estimate will based on the number of works to be documented, the space available to us to work and any special handling the artworks may require.
contact us if you would like to schedule an assessment of your collection.
How long will it take to document my collection?
The documentation and security tagging process takes about twenty minutes per artwork, but this does not include handling, de-installation, unwrapping, re-installation or re-wrapping. To give an accurate estimate of the time needed to fully document your collection, we will need to complete an assessment. To schedule an assessment with one of our art technicians, please
Where will the documentation take place?
If possible, we prefer to complete the documentation wherever the artworks are. This way you can avoid the costs and risks of transporting the artworks to another location. Usually this means that we conduct the documentation in your home, office or storage facility. Prior to commencing the project we will discuss with you the best schedule for the spaces in question. We have a flexible team that can work when it is least disruptive to your daily operations.
What is security tagging? How does it work?
Art Provenance’s security tagging process is the easiest way to identify an artwork. We apply an archival technology onto the artwork that marks it as a unique object. This mark is like a fingerprint that is unique to that artwork and can be objectively verified in the future. So, at any point in the future, the artwork can be linked back to the moment it was tagged and to all the information related to it in the database.
We use a technology called microdots. They are microscopic metallic particles that are the size of a grain of sand. Each microdot bears a serial number that is assigned to the artwork. The microdots are nearly invisible to the naked eye and are applied in a discrete part of the artwork. The materials we use are archival so there is no danger to the artwork.
Is the security tagging safe for my artworks?
Yes, the materials we use for the security tagging are archival. The microdots themselves are archival as well as the adhesive used to apply it to the artwork.
We have safely used the tagging technology on a variety of materials that include: canvas, board, metal, wood, glass, plastic, resin, plaster, fabric, textiles and robust papers. We avoid tagging directly on very thin paper types.
If there are any materials that we are uncertain of, we will first conduct a test to ensure that the materials are compatible.
Who will see my information? Is the database private?
Art Provenance takes your privacy very seriously. Our online database is constantly monitored and protected by an external security system that guards against cyber threats. Your account is therefore encrypted and regularly backed up. Only you and the people whom you grant access to can see your data. We provide complete anonymity through a system that separates your personal details from your collection. You will only be identified by a member number so even our staff won’t be able to link you to your collection of artworks.
The only place your name will appear in the system is under the Provenance History of an artwork. However, you do have the option of appearing only as “Private Collector’. This option can be selected under Account Settings.
How does Art Provenance work with Artists?
If an artist directly wants to secure the authenticity of their work as having been made by them, then Art Provenance can tag these artworks before they leave the studio. This way the artist ensures that works will be identified as having directly come from them before they go on exhibition or consignment.
Upon request, we can also produce certificates of authenticity that the you can issue to clients who purchase directly from the studio. If needed, these may also be forwarded directly to your gallery representative.
How does Art Provenance work with Artist Estates?
Art Provenance can tag and inventorize all artworks that are still in the custody of an Artist Estate. All tagged worked will then be uploaded to our database and if any work is subsequently sold, the buyer can confidently prove that the work can be traced back to the estate through our physical tags and database records.
If the Artist Estate actively authenticates works, then together, we can tag artworks that they have already authenticated. In doing so we are creating a physical and digital link between the authentication they have provided and the physical artwork itself.
Lastly if the estate is interested in locating works that have been sold over the years -- for authentication and inventory updating-- we can assist them in actively searching for these works. Together the estate and Art Provenance will organise for collectors to temporarily return their works for authentication and tagging.
How does Art Provenance work with Galleries?
For galleries working in the primary market, we will work with the artist to tag artworks as they are exhibited and sold. Once the artwork has been authenticated by the artist we will create a note in the online artwork record, that the primary seller of the work was the exhibiting gallery. In this way artworks can always be traced back to the gallery that first sold it along with the artist who made it. This then saves you time and effort later on as you will always have concrete authentication linked to your gallery and your artist, in the event of any dispute. Every work tagged for the gallery will be viewable on the Art Provenance database, as part of an online inventory for your account as well as the corresponding artist account.
For secondary market sales, we can tag the work as having been sold through the gallery, and upload supporting documents like certificates of authentication, primary sale invoice, condition reports etc. If the artist is still alive, Art Provenance can attempt to contact the artist to authenticate the work at an additional cost. However, if the artist is not alive or contactable we will not be able to guarantee the authenticity of the work. The tag therefore, only acts as link back to the selling gallery for provenance purposes.
How does Art Provenance work with Institutions?
If you are a collecting organization we can tag your entire collection and create an inventory of all works in the museum's collection that can be accessed at anytime via our database. This also provides protection for the works when they are loaned to other institutions or if they need to leave the museum for documentation, conservation or other purposes. Tagged works will always be identifiable as belonging or having belonged to the museum even in the event of de-acquisition.
Supporting provenance documents can also be uploaded to manage your collection. If requested Art Provenance can also provide assistance to scan and upload these supporting documents.
Art Provenance can attempt to also contact the artist to authenticate the work, for an additional cost. However if the artist is no longer living or unable to be contacted, we are not able to provide authenticity of the work through your collection tags, only that it is in the museum’s custody and is part of the collection inventory.
What kind of artworks can Art Provenance handle?
Art Provenance has a trained team of art technicians that is familiar with handling paintings, sculptures, works on paper (framed or unframed), textiles and installations. We will always consult the owner of the work for special handling instructions prior to beginning the project.