Moving 4000-lb Black Forest with Virtual Courier

"Virtual Courier was the perfect tool for keeping track of the project, seeing how the sculpture was loaded onto the truck, and monitoring condition issues."
Lynn Dolby
Collections Manager and Registrar, Penn Art Collection

High quality image in a Virtual Courier Transit Check

A 10-foot, 4000-lb challenge

Organizing art movement can be tricky. Each object has its own unique set of risks during a move – from security to size, condition to installation. And any art professional knows that a seemingly straightforward move can quickly turn into a complex operation.

A complex operation like, say, moving a 10-foot, 4000-lb sculpture in need of restoration and comprised of multiple polyhedron shapes, perfectly stacked and balanced on top of each other.

Atelier FAS, a shipper and storage solutions specialist based in the US, recently had the delicate task of moving Black Forest, the aforementioned behemoth, to their client at the University of Pennsylvania and installing it on campus. 

After hearing about Articheck’s new Virtual Courier tool, Maureen McCormick, Director of Registration at Atelier, decided to use it for this move. She and her team were already familiar with the Articheck app, regularly using it to compile standardized and highly professional digital condition reports, so Maureen was confident she would be able to dive in and get started right away.

Condition at every stage

Maureen began the process by compiling a condition report for the object. The sculpture was in good overall condition, but a scattered lifting of paint was documented – the team would have to be extra vigilant when lifting it with the crane to avoid further damage.

Preparing the sculpture for transportation, Maureen got to grips with one of Virtual Courier’s most important features: Transit Checks. Transit Checks can be added at every stage of an object’s journey, are visible to everyone in the Virtual Courier project group in a secure environment, and include GPS-tagged photo and video documentation.

This permanent multimedia record of the object’s condition, before, during and after the move, would be invaluable should anything happen during the challenging transportation process. This condition record could be used as documentation in an insurance claim or important background for restoration work.  

Maureen herself performed an ‘In Transit Storage’ check, including a brief video showing the sculpture, complete with its unique identifying tag, ready to be loaded onto a delivery truck. 

Transit Checks in Virtual Courier

There is no limit to the number of Transit Checks Virtual Courier users can perform – a feature Maureen and her team took advantage of when dealing with a large sculpture that required a multi-step handling process. Lifting the sculpture, positioning it on a flatbed truck, then lowering and securing it in place, is permanently documented by the team’s multiple and comprehensive ‘Vehicle Loading’ checks. 

As well as photos and video footage, Transit Checks include the name, signature, comments, and GPS coordinates of the documenting user. Once complete they cannot be tampered with. And, as object location during transit is sensitive information, we have increased protective data security protocols.

Continuous collaboration

While Black Forest was safely and securely making its way from Delaware to Philadelphia, the staff at the University of Pennsylvania could view everything that had been added to Virtual Courier so far. No back-and-forth emails, phone calls, or text messages, or even unsecure WhatsApp communication – every Transit Check, Group Document, Proof of Delivery and Proof of Collection documentation is instantly visible to other users in the Virtual Courier group. Unlimited users can collaborate and be kept informed of the progress of a shipment all in one secure platform.  

Lynn Dolby, Collections Manager and Registrar of Penn Art Collection, welcomed the sculpture to the University of Pennsylvania and oversaw its installation on campus. She performed a ‘Vehicle Unloading’ check and uploaded images from every angle of the installation site.

Stills from video footage filmed during Virtual Courier Transit Checks

Speaking about the challenges faced with the artwork, Lynn said: “The sculpture had to be lowered carefully into 4 rods that are affixed to the base. Due to the uneven shape of the sculpture, the rigging straps were placed in such a way that it was difficult to have the sculpture in a perfectly vertical position before lowering, so there was some finessing needed in order for each of the 4 rods to fit into place.

“Virtual Courier was the perfect tool for keeping track of the project, seeing how the sculpture was loaded onto the truck, and monitoring condition issues. We made the decision to wait to conserve the piece until it was reinstalled, so while I knew that was in the future, I still wanted to be able to monitor the existing surface condition issues” – Lynn Dolby, Collections Manager and Registrar, Penn Art Collection.

A new way of working

With Virtual Courier in their toolkits, all parties were able to mitigate the risks involved in moving such an ‘uncooperative’ object. Both Atelier FAS and Penn Art Collection had eyes on the sculpture from end to end of the journey, using Virtual Courier to communicate in a new, transparent and standardized way.

“I would absolutely recommend it to a colleague. I know there has been interest among registrars, for several years now, to find more environmentally responsible ways of working, and this program definitely allows for that” – Lynn Dolby, Collections Manager and Registrar, Penn Art Collection.

Art movement coming up? Find out how Virtual Courier can help.