ArtEvolve: The Role of Bookend Couriers in Safeguarding Artistic Heritage (Recording + Highlights)

This week on ArtEvolve we were joined by John Robinette, Founder of JT Robinette Art and Artifacts Collections Management and an experienced registrar, storage manager, and fine arts consultant. We discussed bookend couriers and how this expert role is vital in safeguarding our artistic and cultural heritage.

Results of ArtEvolve poll showing 35% of respondents have already used a bookend courier.


What benefits and skills can a bookend courier bring?

  • Local relationships with shippers, airports, institutions, etc.
  • Local knowledge (language, political subtleties, economic policies, and even the weather).
  • Specialist knowledge – e.g. hiring a courier who is a conservator specializing in a particular artist, period, or material can provide an opportunity for them to examine the work.
  • Cost savings from reducing staff travel.
  • Carbon reduction – savings from air travel are substantial, an economy flight from JFK to Heathrow, for example, uses 1371 pounds of CO2, the same journey in premium class emits 2742 pounds.


The importance of intelligent policies

Choosing to use more sustainable solutions, such as bookend couriers, for one project does not mean this has to be done for all future projects. Institutions should create and implement policy to determine which pieces should travel and with what type of courier. For example,

In-person courier: Object has loss or is fragile and requires supervision every step of the way.

Bookend courier: Object requires supervision from a local expert who will oversee every step from the airport to installation.

No courier. Object is in great condition and requires no supervision.

Any option can be used in conjunction with Virtual Courier to provide all parties involved with remote oversight and a permanent record of condition before, during, and after the move.

Further personalizations, such as remote installation or sensors in crates (to measure temperature, humidity, light, etc) can be added according to the requirements of each artwork.


A change in culture

As a result of the pandemic putting the brakes on international travel, many organizations have tried out using a bookend courier when shipping artwork. With more data showing the feasibility and value of bookend couriers, confidence throughout the sector should increase, allowing bookend couriers to become an accepted practice.

Ensuring projects remain adherent to high standards is key. Institutions must do due diligence, both in the facilities of the institutions they deal with and in the qualifications of bookend couriers they hire.

Results of ArtEvolve poll showing 85% of respondents would try out a bookend courier in future.

Where to find bookend couriers and other art professionals

John Robinette has created an international network of art professionals across specialties including logistics, installation, curatorial, and sales and acquisitions. For more information or to share your requirements for an upcoming project, visit


Thank you to our guest John Robinette for joining us!