February 11, 2024


….As Getting Business Right

Steps taken by museums to avoid theft of art

3 min read
Mona lisa painting

Museums are cherished all over the world, but some have the more sinister intention of stealing the artworks. This is so serious that every year, well over 50,000 works of art are stolen from different museums all over the globe. Much of these artworks are then funnelled into the global black market for such stolen artworks where they are sold for millions upon millions of dollars. This brings a very important question to mind: how do museums prevent art theft? 

The first thing that museums can do to prevent theft of their valuable collections is actually to take a step that seems to be very obvious to everyone. This is to beef up their security systems and surveillance networks. Even though many people have watched movies where museums were depicted as having the most sophisticated security systems in place, the reality is very far from that. Many museums all over the globe have inferior security systems in place. Such explains why a remarkable portion of art theft in the first instance is considered to be crimes of opportunity. It is also best to have products not used for display to be stored in airtight cabinets in the storage facility which is well protected from any outsiders.

Museum display

So, the very first step that any museum should take to minimize or prevent theft is to take its security very seriously. There is the need to invest in the security arrangements for the museum, and this will be for their benefit at the end of the day. There are some cases where the staff of the museum connives with outsiders to steal from the museum itself. Excellent security and employee screening is required to watch out for such theft so that the museum displays are well preserved.

Working closely with the police and other law enforcement organizations is another effective way by which museums can prevent theft. It has been noticed that many museums become reluctant to report cases of theft to the police for whatever reason. As they are often targets of thieves, it only makes sense for museums to work closely and hand in hand with the police and various law enforcement agents in the region.

Another way by which museums prevent art theft is by working closely with the government in eradicating the black market for artworks. As virtually all the artworks that were stolen are taken to the underground black market for sale, museums do a lot by working with the government in snuffing life out of this illicit trade. The expectation is that by making the black market unattractive, thieves are also going to lose the motivation to conduct their art heists.

So, as seen from the sections above, museums employ several measures and strategies when it comes to preventing the theft of artworks. However, museums will be able to record excellent success with their efforts when they work with all stakeholders involved. As theft of artworks is global and multidimensional, it only makes sense that all the tips to prevent the crime are also comprehensive. It is hoped that with time, museums are going to be able to achieve that lofty goal of bringing art theft to near zero. It is a big dream but one that is very much achievable, it is often said it is impossible until someone does it.

Keeping out art safe is very important not only for the current people but for the future also. Art holds plenty of history and gives off a different learning experience when you can go in person and witness the artwork up close and personal. It is a whole different experience altogether.

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