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  • Courtesy of Smithsonian American Art Museum

Collector's Log: Documentation for your art


Caring for your collection extends beyond maintaining the physical condition of the objects. It is important to keep good object records and a collection history. This data will be invaluable for insurance purposes in case of theft or disaster. Be sure to create a folder for each object in your collection.

In your file, include the following items:

· color photographs of the object, including full-view and details—front, back, framed, unframed. Document multiple views of three-dimensional works.

· purchase date and price

· vendor data

· artist/maker information including life dates

· title of work

· detailed description of object’s subject matter or type of work

· date of work

· dimensions—framed and unframed for two-dimensional works. Overall, object, and base measurements for three-dimensional works.

· media and support data

· detailed description of object—include location of scratches, losses, dents, abrasions, and so on.

· copies of all conservation and appraisal reports

· text of inscriptions, markings, and labels

· ownership history (“provenance”)

· bibliographic information if your work is cited in any exhibition catalogues, auction catalogues, or catalogues raisonné

· exhibition and loan history

See the Getty website for information on protecting cultural objects through international documentation standards at www.getty.edu/conservation/

In the unfortunate event your artwork gets stolen, here are important resources:

International Foundation for Art Research (IFAR) 500 Fifth Avenue, Suite 935 New York NY 10110 (212) 391-6234 www.ifar.org Select the Collector's Corner link.

National Stolen Art File http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/investigate/vc_majorthefts/arttheft

Credit: Courtesy of Smithsonian American Art Museum Renwick Gallery

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Copyright 2016 Thom Reaves

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