By Ryan Peterson, DPR Art Rescue, LLC

My First Art Rescue


Most people don’t automatically associate health care with fine art. Yet, in several ways, my prior experience running a private healthcare facility is similar to the business of art rescue. Most noticeable, owning and operating any small business requires a strong level of involvement in day-to-day procedures. Insurance regulations also come into play within both industries. Health insurance companies can interfere with appropriate patient treatment, like the obstacles DPR sometimes faces when determining art rescue logistics. Also, as in healthcare, DPR agents guide clients through potentially intimidating claims processes. Finally, both fields present the challenges of ever-changing industries and technologies, whether rescuing a painting or rescuing a patient.

Despite these correlations, the world of fine art is relatively new to me. Since starting at DPR, I’ve been eager to see an art rescue in action. This past June, I received a call from Stan Bernacki, President of Bernacki & Associates, asking if I’d like to come along on a DPR art rescue mission. Of courses, I was on board! Not only would this be an exciting opportunity to observe the dedication of DPR’s rescue team up-close but, as Marketing Director, I view projects through a completely different set of eyes. First, I try to understand the process – from motivation to technique. Second, I critique the work. Even an organization as skilled as DPR can aim to make things better. With no two art rescues the same, there’s always room for improvement.

On the day of the rescue, I pulled up to a beautiful French Chateau home tucked away on a great private lot not far from Lake Michigan. Though I expected to come upon a few individuals hauling boxes out of the basement, I was blown away by the number of DPR personnel at the scene! The driveway was crammed with bustling activity. DPR professional art handlers and first responders seemed everywhere and three climate-controlled trucks took priority in the driveway, poised and standing ready to receive damaged objects. I noticed a House Manager (a representative on behalf of the homeowners) overseeing the property. I introduced myself and, my anticipation growing, we navigated our way to the basement.

Flood damage. The place was a mess. Destroyed carpets - already pulled back the day before by a disaster repair company – left only a raw concrete floor. Walls were mottled in water stains. Water-damaged furniture was stacked and stored improperly in closets. Blowers ran everywhere, drying the last of the remaining moisture. Quite a difference from the grand exterior! Luckily, our crew was already in motion, clearing objects upstairs to a temporary staging area. We continued through the basement room to room, sometimes returning to the same room several times, as art handlers shuffled in and out. Items were documented – photographed, written up, and categorized appropriately. Then, they were sent outside, wrapped in clean moving blankets, and properly loaded into DPR trucks where the process of rescuing them could truly begin.

We went over every inch of that basement, making sure nothing was missed. And, six hours later, we were done. The objects were finally en route to our storage facility, secured in climate and security controlled conditions while awaiting further client directions. It was around 8.00 p.m. and our crew was tired after a long day. But, after a few months of conservation and restoration, 90% of the items were delivered back to the client. We did it…and we did it right.