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The Courier: An Artwork’s Travel Buddy

Crystal Bridges often lends artworks to other museums for exhibitions. These are opportunities for institutions to share their works with new audiences and present their objects in different contexts. When works are particularly valuable or fragile, the museum sends a courier to accompany the object. A courier stays with the work from the moment it is packed to the time it arrives safely.

Last year, Crystal Bridges lent Asher B. Durand’s Kindred Spirits to the exhibition, Thomas Cole’s Journey: Atlantic Crossings, at The Metropolitan Museum of Art and The National Gallery, London. When one of our staff members went to London to retrieve it, she documented the long return journey.

Asher B. Durand (1796-1886) Kindred Spirits 1849 Oil on canvas

Asher B. Durand (1796-1886)
Kindred Spirits
Oil on canvas
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas


Prior to loaning Kindred Spirits to the exhibition in New York and London, we packed it in a specially designed crate. Bon voyage, Kindred Spirits!



The painting was repacked into its two-layer crate for its return travel from London to Bentonville.



Our crated painting and others were strapped into a fine arts shipping truck to travel from London to Luxembourg. With a courier and two drivers on board the truck, an artwork is never left unattended.



Before loading the crate onto a freighter airplane, it was packed onto a pallet and wrapped in many protective layers at a warehouse. With the help of advanced equipment and several personnel, our crate was palletized with other packages.



The pallet containing Kindred Spirits was loaded onto the freighter flight in Luxembourg. An agent identified our crate in the cargo hold of the plane prior to departure.



Upon arrival in Dallas, the cargo was offloaded via an opening in the plane’s nose. Our crate was unpacked from the pallet.



The crated painting was again strapped into a truck for the final leg of the journey back to Crystal Bridges.




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