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Collection Management 101

Collection Management 101

Step 1 – Cataloging a Collection

Cataloging serves as the crucial first step in effectively managing a principal’s fine art collection. This entails meticulously gathering and documenting all pertinent information for each artwork. Based on any standardized museum registrar’s template your Principal’s catalog should include the following details such as: artist name, title, medium, dimensions, provenance, condition reports, and acquisition history. As a USPAP compliant appraiser, it’s best practice to use the comprehensive Getty Research Institute’s CDWA or Categories for the Description of Works of Art. The CDWA establishes standard language referenced art professionals for generations. Photographs of the work should include the front back and signature of any work.

A comprehensive, and accurate catalog forms the foundation upon which subsequent management decisions are made, facilitating organization, accessibility, and informed decision-making. Moreover, it ensures the preservation of valuable information for future reference, enabling estate managers to track the collection’s evolution over time and make strategic decisions to enhance its value and legacy. 

Establishing a baseline value of your principals artworks, provides essential financial data reducing your Principal’s tax exposure. Moreover, as the collection evolves over time, tracking its value enables estate managers to make strategic decisions aimed at enhancing its financial and cultural legacy while maximizing its potential as a tangible asset class. 

If you have any questions or need assistance with managing your collection, whether it’s cataloging, valuation, or risk management, please don’t hesitate to reach out. In the next installment, we’ll delve deeper into the critical importance of establishing provenance and its implications for preserving the integrity and value of your artworks.

Elizabeth Ruffner: ISA Member since 201;, USPAP Compliant 2023



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