Family, legacy, passion, pride. While these are not terms that would usually be associated with a global industry organisation, ICEFAT believes in their significance to the world of art logistics. Just ask our newest members. Six businesses have joined or re-joined ICEFAT in the last two years, and this month, their senior teams have provided some enlightening perspectives on the advantages of becoming a member of our art shipping organisation. The new intake of members offers testament to our commitment to quality of service and cooperation within the art world. Our international network of fine art shipping agents is passionate about developing the industry to make it as effective for the art market as possible. Please read on for an introduction to the newest agents to our global art shipping family.
Armstrong Fine Art Services
“We are so proud and honoured to join the ICEFAT family,” states Alexa Murray, Director, Fine Arts of Armstrong Fine Art Services. “We felt such a warm welcome by all members at the annual ICEFAT Convention in Athens and look forward to continuing to grow partnerships and personal connections with all members.” Following auditing against the ICEFAT Standards in late 2021, Armstrong became a member in early 2022.
As the third ICEFAT member in Canada (Pacart and Total Fine Arts are the other two), Armstrong provides vital on-the-ground expertise for global ICEFAT partners with clients looking to ship to Canada. As Canada is the second largest country in the world, Murray is keenly aware of the challenges of her landscape, saying: “our transportation times can be much longer than they would be for our European members and clients located within the centre of Canada rely heavily on our shuttle services to transport their exhibits or loans internationally”. Having local knowledge enables successful delivery of often complex projects.
In 2019 and 2022 Armstrong was the Official Shipping Partner of the Toronto Biennial of Art and worked with ICEFAT agents from 13 cities around the world to ship works to Toronto. Rightly celebrating this successful coordination effort, Murray says “We could not have done it without the support of our amazing partners.”
Gulf Warehousing Company (GWC)
The joining of Qatar-based GWC marked an historic step for ICEFAT, as our first ever member located in the Gulf region. The company passed our Standards audit to join in 2022, and GWC’s Director of Fine Art, Duncan Capp, says they are “proud to offer a full fine art service in Qatar, with the high service levels expected from a member of ICEFAT [which] has resulted in our operation having more credibility internationally.”
Capp underlines GWC’s record across its institutional and commercial clients as it “provides every possible service to all Qatar-based museums and galleries.” Its Technical team is acutely aware of the broader region’s logistical complexities, being equally adept at delivering an Olafur Eliasson piece to a remote desert pavilion and installing works by KAWS and Jean-Michel Othoniel at Hamad International Airport. These services are complemented by a Conservation department that has restored works by artists such as Damien Hirst and Richard Serra.
GWC’s local knowledge is invaluable for ICEFAT agents globally that are looking to organise delivery, collection or airport transferal in Qatar. Capp notes the increasingly important place that the country holds in the global art world, noting that “with Qatar Airways’ ever growing route map and Hamad International Airport being a key Middle East airport hub, we have received more enquiries related to our full Airport Supervision service for transfers.” ICEFAT facilitates the global transportation of art with the least friction possible, so our first local member in the Gulf helps us fulfil that mission.
Discussing the reasons that Hungarian agent Museum Complex applied to join ICEFAT in 2020, Márk Vargha, the company’s Head of International Projects says, “we wanted our future clients to know that Museum Complex operates according to the highest standards of international fine art transport.” For Vargha, membership of ICEFAT provides his regional clients with the peace of mind that their artworks will be “handled with the utmost care.” The globally local connections that we facilitate have been utilised for Museum Complex’s operations in East Asia. In recent months, it has worked with South Korean ICEFAT member Dongbu to ship a Hungarian contemporary art showcase to Seoul and with Japanese agent Yamato to transport several large travelling exhibitions to Japan, including a unique ceramics collection from the Museum of Applied Arts Budapest.
As Hungary’s only ICEFAT agent, Museum Complex provides invaluable local insight for clients looking to ship into the country and beyond. “We are not fully surrounded with ICEFAT agents in the neighbouring countries,” says Vargha, “so in many cases we have to cover areas from our Budapest headquarters that are much larger than our own country.” The company quite literally understands the landscape for carrying out art shipping projects that may be difficult to plan as an external shipper, given, “the highway network is not that developed towards the east of the region.” An ICEFAT agent in the region guarantees shipments will always be in expert hands, no matter the terrain.
We were pleased to welcome HIZKIA Amsterdam (formerly Crown Fine Art Netherlands) in 2021 following the acquisition of the company. While the previous entity was an ICEFAT member, we require any agent that comes under new ownership to reapply for membership in order to safeguard the continuation of service quality. With HIZKIA Amsterdam building on Crown’s 30 years of experience in the Benelux region, the agent offers invaluable practical expertise to our broader membership. It also stands at the forefront of conversations around sustainability in the art world, utilising the ‘Turtle’ reusable art shipping crate alongside traditional materials. It is important to us that the different regional voices across the art shipping industry are given prominence in an organisation of almost 80 members, so the entry of HIZKIA Amsterdam allows us to broaden the perspectives of the industry from which we all can benefit.
Crozier USA & Crozier Switzerland
New York, USA and Zurich, Switzerland
While many ICEFAT agents maintain a presence in multiple countries, we require each country-specific operation to apply as a separate member to ensure that the local quality of the agent is guaranteed. Crozier is one example of this, with its USA and Switzerland operations re-joining ICEFAT in 2020 (Crozier UK is also a member).
Johan Kritzinger, Director, Project Management for Crozier USA, points to how Crozier’s legacy in the industry is tied to ICEFAT’s history. He says, “Bob Crozier [the company’s founder] had a hand in establishing some of the standards set by ICEFAT. It is part of our legacy to contribute and collaborate with organizations that continue to set the highest standards in our industry today and into the future.” Philipp Müller, General Manager in Switzerland, also values the collaboration ICEFAT membership facilitates and says, “we are strong believers that being members helps us to better connect with each other and share best practices across our sector.”
For Müller, ICEFAT agents’ international local knowledge “helps with connectivity in areas of the world where we lack regular exchange and close relationships with partners.” Both USA and Switzerland entities regularly collaborate with ICEFAT counterparts globally. In recent months, Crozier USA has worked with new member GWC on the delivery and return of a major exhibition in Qatar, and with German agent KNAB to move a private collection from Massachusetts to Munich. Crozier Switzerland worked on the opening of a major new museum complex in Lausanne, Plateform 10, cooperating with 7 ICEFAT members across Europe and Asia to bring the project together. International operations like this are greatly aided by the connections fostered by our organisation.
We see our organisation as a peerless network that operates collectively. We are delighted to welcome these six members into the organisation to boost our mission to transport the world’s cultural treasures. With a local presence across the world’s art capitals and almost everywhere in between, we are proud that our “family” is moving from strength to strength with new members representing the next generation of the industry around the world.