Museum security raises a unique and peculiar problem, in that while highly valuable items must be kept safe, they must also simultaneously be on display for the public passing by or coming into the store to see them daily.
However, with proper planning, museum security can be implemented, balancing these two ostensibly opposing needs. It is also important to have the right museum and art gallery insurance should security measures ever fail.
According to global museum security experts, there are several measures museums can take to protect their holdings and avoid record heists that have occurred even in some of the best-secured museums. These include the Oslo Munch Museum theft in 2004, where paintings worth $100 million were stolen, and the infamous 1990 heist at Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, where two men disguised as police officers took $500 million worth of art, which has never been recovered to date.
These heists heightened the need for greater museum security, and some of the best measures taken can be observed in various countries.
The Rijksmuseum is a Dutch national museum dedicated to arts and history in Amsterdam. According to its former security manager, the museum utilizes a combination of alarm technology, on-the-ground human surveillance, and several other measures to ensure maximum protection at the museum.
“No alarm response organization will be quick enough to react adequately when it is possible to execute a burglary and theft in less than a minute,” the former security manager there told an industry publisher, adding, “these systems are useless if not combined with structural and organizational measures.”
Vienna’s Kunsthistorisches Museum utilizes a combination of complex, state-of-the-art laser detectors, on-the-ground armed security officers, and other tactical and organizational measures to keep the museum safe. According to the museum’s head of security, the laser detectors offer appreciable flexibility that makes a difference in enhancing security at the museum.
The Cremer Museum features 74 Dutch & Flemish Old Master paintings from the Collection and is accessible exclusively through Virtual Reality (VR) technology. Some of Cremer Museum’s security measures include securing roofs and using CCTV cameras as deterrents. According to one expert, his list of recommendations in addition to CCTV cameras includes wireless vibration sensors that can sense and detect if someone is trying to access a painting through a wall and motion-detection devices that sound an alarm if someone gets too close to a piece on display.
For smaller museums with thinner security budgets like Seattle’s Museum of Flight, a smaller institution that displays air and space artifacts, the museum’s IT director says the use of a simpler WatchGuard security system has been just as effective in identifying potential intrusion and taking action to prevent theft of the museum’s valuables.
All these measures are great and have been proven to be effective in maximizing museum security, but nothing is foolproof against potential theft. This is why having coverage by FACE (Fine Art & Collectibles Enterprises) provides an added layer of protection against the possible loss of your valuables at your museum. Contact us today for more information.