In July 2009, our staff prepared to leave from Amsterdam to Okura Tokyo, where ING exhibited a part of its collection, together with artworks from the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, the Dutch Central Bank and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The show was entitled 400 years of Trade relationships- 400 years of Art and comprises works from Rembrandt to Jacqueline Hassink 1609 to 2009.
The majority of the work was completed. We were going to celebrate the opening, with members of the Emperor’s family, with all ceremonies around it.
The preparation started in 2008, which is actually not much time to arrange all the paperwork and shipping. We were supported by professional companies, and that’s how we managed to get it all together in time for the 15th annual charity exhibition of Okura to benefit the Japanese Red Cross.
After signing the contracts for the loan agreement with all parties, the museum works needed some restoration and preparation. Restorers from the Rijksmuseum prepared the condition reports, but also looked carefully at the conditions in the exhibition room.
We needed to change all fire extinguishers because the old ones contained a gas that might harm the paintings if used. Rijksmuseum set the standard and the other curators of the collections followed their expertise. Climate and security were approved. All collection experts provided accurate condition reports in order to determine the location and liable party of possible damage in future.
The preferred shipper, Gerlach Art Packers and Shippers picked up the works at the four different locations and fabricated the climate controlled shipping boxes. The curators who guided the shipment were instructed at the premises of Gerlach on how to open the boxes safely and take out the paintings in the right order. This was to ensure that the wrapping of the boxes after the exhibit was done exactly in the same order.
Gerlach shipped the paintings to Japan by a sponsored flight through Japanese Airlines. Upon delivery at Narita Airport, the works had to be cleared through Customs. This was not done by the shipper, but was handled through a special agent called Nippon Express.
After the documents cleared Customs, a local specialized art shipper picked up the works and delivered them to the Okura Museum, directly to the acclimatized room. Not all boxes fitted through the doors, so a special permit to turn the mentioned box 90 degrees was given by ING.
After the delivery, the boxes were placed in the exhibition room to become acclimatized for at least 24 hours. The opening was in presence of the Japanese Customs department, the curators of the participating collections, the curators of the receiving Okura Museum and the shippers.
At the opening of the exhibit in a couple of days, all participants also raised their glass to a job well done and a true achievement.
And we are only halfway. The return of the artworks to the lenders follows the same procedure.