Understanding the dynamics of corporate collecting

On Tuesday, September 20, Nathalie Moureau, a professor at Université Paul Valéry in Montpellier (France), revealed the results of the first survey of corporate art and heritage collections in France. Her research, supported by AXA ART France, aims to decipher the relationship between art, heritage and corporations. ALL ARTICLES  |  Research & Foresight
Sep 28, 2016

Since the end of 2015, economist and art market specialist Nathalie Moureau has scoured France to discover its corporate art and heritage collections. More than a hundred companies have played along and agreed to participate.

The goal was to enhance our knowledge of corporate collections in order to better protect them.

Sylvie Gleises
CEO of AXA ART’s Southern and Western Europe region

Often, when companies contact us about their art collections, we observe that they are inadequately insured. This is because art and heritage assets are so unique. As specialists, we realize how important it is to better understand this ecosystem and thereby help companies face the risks affecting these collections more effectively.

With more than 50 years of experience and operations in 26 countries around the world, AXA ART is a leading insurer of corporate collections. AXA ART France has shared the findings of this research.

Art vs. heritage: a portrait of corporate collections

Art collections, which encompass works of art, and heritage collections, gathering pieces related to the company’s business, are part of the same family but have very distinct personalities. They differ in size, age, growth, motivation behind their creation, and the issues surrounding the decision to acquire a new work.

A valuable company asset, still in its early stages

The United States played a pioneering role in corporate collecting. Already at the end of the 19th century, railroad companies were commissioning works from artists to publicize the delights of train travel. In France, where the state has historically played a strong role in cultural production, the practice of corporate collecting did not emerge until the 1980s.

Heritage and art collections are both relatively young, but occupy different positions in corporate organizations. Due to their significant size (see key figures above), 40% of heritage collections have a dedicated team to manage them, while for 44% of art collections there is no staff member assigned exclusively to the collection.

The research carried out by Nathalie Moureau does not claim to be exhaustive, but draws attention to recent practices in France that should be supported and encouraged.