Art security has been improved

Dunedin Public Art Gallery director Cam McCracken tells Rebecca Fox how the gallery protects itself from art crime.

Dunedin Public Art Gallery director Cam McCracken. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Dunedin Public Art Gallery director Cam McCracken. Photo by Peter McIntosh.

Since the late 1990s, Dunedin Public Art Gallery has made steady, incremental improvements to its processes as technology, industry knowledge and budgets have allowed, director Cam McCracken says.

Mostly these improvements have been in terms of security.

''Where we have a stronger visitor host presence in the gallery space - the number of front-of-house staff in the galleries is determined by the type of exhibition, the vulnerability of the work on display or the level of interactivity or audience participation.''

The gallery also has more security cameras in place and more sophisticated hanging technologies.

In more recent times, the gallery had not had to deal with other cases of vandalism or fraud, he said.

Technology has helped galleries in a number of ways, for example there are online data bases such as that catalogue lost or stolen works in a very accessible and thorough way.

''Before the digital age, this information was selective and very difficult to access.''

He agree there is a need for a register of lost works in New Zealand.

Art crimes happen very rarely but do tend to make the news when they occur because they don't happen every day and the dollar values involved can be quite high, he said.

''In terms of individuals protecting themselves from dubious purchases, especially if large sums of money are involved, we would always recommend a reputable independent expert examine the art work and its provenance before purchase.''

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