Since the founding of the Zürcher Kunstgesellschaft in 1787 a great number of works have been carried through our doors. To date we have received and documented over 3,800 paintings and sculptures – not including works from the photo-, Dada-, video- and print & drawing collections. Whether purchases, gifts or permanent loans, every object receives a catalogue number, and a label which is attached both to the work itself and the frame. Subsequent to this an inventory sheet is completed which contains the artist’s name, title of work, date of origin, measurements, proof of provenance, literature references as well as a photographic image for identification. Finally all works are entered in a large catalogue, digitally recorded and secured on computer.
As Kunsthaus registrar we are also responsible for sending out works on loan. As it has not escaped the attention of external exhibitors that both great and small masterpieces are to be found hanging in Zurich, we receive over 150 loan requests annually from all corners of the globe. Often enquiries are made about several works at once or even entire groups of work. Each of these loan requests sets the wheels in motion. First of all our restorers check the condition of the works (conservation needs, fitness for transport). If an object is fragile, then either accompaniment by courier is recommended or the request is turned down. A second criterion is the nature of the exhibiting institute itself. Are the security standards adequate? Are the climatic controls and conditions ideal? Once these questions have been answered the management makes a decision about whether to approve the loan request. If the contractual conditions are accepted, then the real work begins. Our colleagues in technical services then have to promptly turn their attention to the issue of packing the work. At this stage the external measurements of the painting are needed and the question of how to obtain an air-conditioned packing crate, in particular for sculptures, comes to the fore. In the majority of cases the transport company delivers the packing crate which is then adapted to the dimensions of the artwork. Prints and drawings receive a passé-partout as extra protection and are framed before they disappear into their crate. Thanks to all these precautions damage is a very rare event. Nonetheless, every object is insured before it leaves the museum to enthrall a new set of viewers. As soon as a work returns to the Kunsthaus it is subject to a thorough examination and so long as nothing has changed it is returned to the collection or storage.