And those institutions that do have
inventory systems are increasingly at risk
of cyber-hacking. While the theft of credit
card numbers and other personal data
dominates the cyber-insurance discussion,
Roman says, both insurers and museums
routinely overlook the risks posed by
criminals who hack into databases to adjust
inventory records and artifact valuations—
making pilferage and undetectable theft
more easy—or to learn details about a
museum’s plans for transporting works of
art in order to intercept and steal them.
IN AN EFFORT to maintain or boost their attendance, museums are trying new strategies that range from pushing the
envelope with exhibition content to generating revenue by utilizing their real estate in
creative ways. These gambits are keeping insurance carriers on their toes, placing
even greater importance on loss-control programs and risk management.
“[Museum-goers] are getting tired
of the same-old, same-old,” observes
Shirl Hedges, an underwriting manager
at Philadelphia Insurance Cos., who
counts cultural organizations among
her specialties. “So museums are
constantly challenging themselves to
do something different to get people
through the door. That makes them
fun little animals to insure!”
Ideally, museum administrators
can predict audience behavior ahead
of time and plan accordingly. For
instance, curators at the National
Gallery in London knew they’d created
a blockbuster when advance tickets
for “Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court
of Milan” sold out six months before the
exhibition opened in November.
But officials at New York City’s
Metropolitan Museum of Art instead saw a
slow build in interest for their summertime
show “Alexander McQueen: Savage
Beauty”—which, with 661,509 visitors,
ranked eighth among the institution’s Top
10 most-attended special exhibitions. In the
show’s final days, people waited hours in lines
that snaked throughout the building, outside
and around it.
In a stagnant economy, such success
makes other cultural institutions envious.
But growing crowds also fuel a potential
rise in liabilities, from slip-and-fall claims
When it comes to museums or
cultural centers, “if you can’t
provide a safe environment, you
shouldn’t invite the public in.”
Rich Standring, Risk Services Manager,
Fireman’s Fund Insurance Co.
Harold Holzer, senior vice president of
external affairs. Anticipating a bottleneck
around a particular holographic display,
for instance, curators changed its design to
accommodate more viewers simultaneously.
Still, although the McQueen show
received favorable reviews, many visitors
complained about the wait, overcrowding,
and rude patrons who cut the line or
created trouble for security guards.
Museums also continue to explore
other ways of generating revenue above
and beyond exhibitions. Many are
offering musical performances as well
as wine-and-cheese nights, sometimes
complemented by behind-the-scenes
tours through typically private spaces
such as basements and attics.
However, “Once you start adding
these things, you’re opening up a whole
slew of new exposures,” says Bradley
Jones, a risk manager with Fireman’s
Fund. It’s critical for museums—
particularly smaller ones that lack in-
house risk managers—to approach their
carriers ahead of time, he says, to review
policy limits and conduct due diligence.
Loss prevention could mean
serving only white wine at social
events, because it’s less likely to stain,
The key to managing success is evaluating
potential concerns with a risk manager
ahead of time. “If you can anticipate that a
[negative] situation will occur and you don’t
take appropriate action, you’re negligent,”
observes Rich Standring, a risk services
manager for Fireman’s Fund Insurance Co.
“If you can’t provide a safe environment,
you shouldn’t invite the public in.” NU
Museums are constantly challenging themselves to do something different to get people through the door. That makes them fun little animals to insure!” Shirl Hedges, Underwriting Manager, Philadelphia Insurance Cos.
to disgruntled patrons who start fights
with other visitors and guards, which
make pre-planning essential.
The National Gallery was fortunate in
having time to plan ahead for managing its
blockbuster show. It restricted the number
of simultaneous gallery visitors to just 180—
fewer than the 230 maximum allowed—
and admitted them at timed intervals.
The Met also addressed some potential
crowd-control issues ahead of time, says
February 20, 2012 | National Underwriter Property & Casualty | 19