Traveling Exhibition Insurance: Making the Case for Appropriate Coverage

Is your touring exhibition, traveling collection, and/or loaned object properly insured? If you’re like most institutions, collectors, and touring agencies with exhibitions and collections on tour, the answer is: probably not.


This year, together, we grieved the loss of the National Museum of Brazil and we witnessed major destruction at the Notre Dame Basilica. Many museums are now taking extra precaution in the safe-keeping of their treasures within their museum walls. And given the global cultural benefits or sharing objects with other institutions, it’s important for all museums to take great care of its collections and those objects that are on loan. Even with precaution, proper insurance is extremely important. In the event of damage or a loss, such an unfortunate thing shouldn’t cause considerable financial strain. So, how are you insuring your loaned objects?


Many museums are often wary of touring their collections at all because they fear losing control of their irreplaceable valuables. Other museums embrace the opportunity to share their collections. These lending museums might entrust their staff to make arrangements to transport their museum’s objects/artifacts/exhibitions. Some hire a consultant or a booking agency to do this for them. In any case, it’s extremely likely that the proper steps are not taken to prepare the collection or exhibition to tour. In our experience in touring exhibitions and collections regionally and globally, we’ve seen first-hand that the majority of museums and touring companies are not properly insuring their traveling assets.

It’s important to Flying Fish to exercise best practices in touring exhibitions and thus we encourage our clients and friends to do the same. Your items are likely to be irreplaceable and highly valuable. With the right type of property insurance (and ideally, coupled with experienced management and logistics planning), you can be confident in your coverage should disaster strike.

If you’re like most institutions or touring companies, you’re depending on the host venue to cover your valuables under their policy. Such a transition in policies would typically take place as soon as the exhibition arrives at the host venue and will carry through until it arrives at the next venue, and so on. An attentive project manager and steward to the collection will typically collect a COI so the host venue has proof of their new policy requirements to include the touring assets. They may also add transit insurance to the services received from their logistics provider. But what happens when the host venue or their insurance agent overlooks their insurance requirement; perhaps they default on their premium payments; or perhaps major disaster strikes and the host venue reaches their coverage limit and coverage cannot extend to your property on loan with them.


When Flying Fish began consulting with its clients, we began serving as stewards to our clients’ touring exhibitions. In this position, it is our job to foresee these events unfolding. Throughout many years of experience in touring exhibitions to numerous cities all over the world, we’ve been in enough circumstances and heard enough horror stories to know better than to rely on each host venue to treat a touring property like their own personal treasure. It is our recommendation then that the producer/owner of any collection, object, and/or exhibition that is on tour secures either a Stock Throughput policy (also called a Marine policy) or ensure there is contingent cargo transportation coverage (in the event that something were to happen and the adequate insurance and/or limit was not obtained by the host venue). This removes the burden from the host venue to attempt to cover the loaned assets properly under a new or revised policy; and this ensures no gaps in coverage, ever.

If you have questions about your touring exhibition or artifacts and would like to consult with Flying Fish, get in touch. If you simply would appreciate a referral for your insurance coverage, write us a note, and we’ll gladly connect you with someone who can help.

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