I know your passion is collecting art…however for investment quality art, good record keeping is an absolute MUST! Maintaining sound object records can save art collectors, museum registrars, collector’s heirs, insurance adjusters, attorneys, and appraisers a great deal of time, money, and energy when it comes time for resolving art-related issues.
The ideal record keeping system should maintain:
A hard-copy file. The file may contain:
The original receipt of purchase, deed of gift, or statement of trade for the object of art.
Any print photographs of the object.
Any correspondence directly related to the object and its history. Examples could include: a letter from the artist discussing the work, transportation receipts, exhibition catalogs where the object is illustrated and/or mentioned, press clipping or critical reviews mentioning the work, or any other print information about the object’s provenance.
Electronic records and files.
Object information needs to be included in an electronic database system, which uses metadata standards for art-related information. (Standards include Getty Vocabularies and VRA Core.) The use of cataloging standards will contribute to data integrity and the longevity of data, as data can be easily migrated to new systems as art collections, information about individual works, and the information technology evolves.
For a variety of reasons, collecting, recording, and maintaining this art object information from the moment of interest and object acquisition is helpful for the art collector in the long run. You’ll be happy you took the time to protect your art assets.