Insuring a cultural icon
Whether you’re working for a sole trader or a multi-national corporation, the role of an insurance broker is the same – secure the cover your client needs, at the right price, with the service they deserve. And that’s no different when your client is the world’s leading museum of art, design and performance.
The Victoria and Albert Museum, also known as the V&A, is comprised of 145 galleries and stretches across 12.5 acres of London turf. Founded in 1852, the artefacts, antiquities and pieces of art that it hosts span 5000 years, including the world’s largest collection of postclassical sculpture. In fact, it boasts the most Italian Renaissance items kept outside Italy.
Anthony Misquitta is General Counsel for the V&A, and has worked for the museum since 2015. One of the biggest projects on his plate at the moment is called Here East.
“Here East is the name given to what used to be the Media Centre in the Olympic Park, Stratford. It is now a hub of design, performance, technology and education. We are delighted to be building a new Collections and Research Centre that will house 250,000 objects and 917 archives in state-of-the-art facilities. We are confident that it will be a ground-breaking venture, as no museum or archive has approached the storage and accessibility of its collection in the manner that we plan to. The centre is being designed by US architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro who famously designed the High Line and The Shed in New York.”
Alan Boswell Group is the insurance broker for the V&A, and Caroline Pyle, Associate Director, is the account manager. She helped source insurance for those building works, as well as the staff and visitors that are on-site. It’ll open in 2024, alongside the other project on the other side of the Olympic park. “Work has already commenced on a new V&A Museum. It’s on the waterfront, opposite the West Ham stadium, and will be a partnership with the Smithsonian Institution, which is the largest museum and research complex in the world. It’s part of the East Bank project, set up to celebrate the legacy of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, creating a centre for culture, education, innovation and growth in the Olympic Park.”
So what sort of insurance does an organisation like this need? The museum buildings and the collections themselves are covered by a government scheme… they’re priceless artefacts, after all. Alan Boswell Group provides cover for everything to do with the people of the V&A, which includes public liability, professional indemnity, employers’ liability and travel insurance. Anthony explains there used
to be reluctance associated with private insurance within the museum industry.
“Alan Boswell Group has taken great care to understand the V&A’s people, its projects and its culture. We are not a straightforward or conventional institution and where some might have been intimidated by the breadth of our activity and attempted to contain our ambitions, the team have embraced our eccentricities and relished the opportunity to join us for the ride.”
“DCMS (the Government Department that sponsors museums) used to prohibit national museums from taking out private insurance. It still prohibits us from insuring the collection and our building. However, the Government’s view on private insurance has softened in recent years and Dick Culpin (Caroline’s predecessor) has helped the V&A and other museums navigate the insurance landscape and manage our risk.”
We aim to be the natural choice for friendly and expert advice on insurance, and one of the best ways to maintain this level of service is through open and regular communication. In addition to Caroline and Dick from the Commercial team, the V&A account is managed by administration support and claims management. Visiting clients on-site to answer questions and allay any concerns is how we like to do things, no matter the size or industry of the client. We asked Anthony how he’s found our personal approach to insurance broking, and whether he’d recommend Alan Boswell Group: “I would and I have.
“My experience with Dick and Caroline has been great. They take a keen interest in the V&A’s collections, projects and exhibitions and do a great job of identifying the key insurable risks inherent in our activities. Their willingness to attend site visits in Stratford was above and beyond my expectations.”
Caroline Pyle – Associate Director
“I look after all of Alan Boswell Group’s museum clients – National Science, National Maritime, Imperial War and a fair few others. It’s a different mindset to dealing with ‘normal’ businesses, because you’re dealing with trustees and public money.
“The team behind me are incredibly experienced and have real specialist knowledge.
“I feel it’s an honour to work alongside such prestigious organisations and be a small part of helping them deliver their visions to the public, who travel from all over the world to visit them.”