In 1994, the world-famous Munch painting ‘The Scream’ was stolen by thieves in Oslo, Norway. Two men took less than a minute to climb a ladder, smash through the window of the National Art Museum and remove the painting from the wall with wire cutters. The entire incident was caught on CCTV; however, cameras alone were never going to be enough to protect such a valuable piece of art. Such was the oversight in their security provisions that the thieves actually left a thank you note to the museum for their “poor security”.
Art gallery thefts are not uncommon, and another high-profile theft happened in 2008, when pieces by Cezanne, Degas, Monet and Van Gogh were stolen in less than 5 minutes from a gallery in Zurich. Famous pieces of art command high prices on the black market and because of this very few are ever successfully recovered, which makes it all the more important to have proper security controls in place.
They key way to ensure that a museum or art gallery is protected is to create a complex, multi-layered security system that plans for the worst eventualities, and access control equipment can play an important role. Where CCTV may simply document a crime taking place, access control equipment can actually help prevent and deter crime.
The conundrum for many gallery and museum owners is how to balance making exhibits easily accessible and appealing while still maintaining high-levels of protection. While art galleries and museums are public places and should not look like prisons, it is important that security fundamentals are not overlooked. Compromises can be found and sometimes security measures actually enhance the experience of the visitor. Barriers and turnstiles should be installed at entry and exit points around the building which can help to manage human traffic and allow security personnel to successfully monitor and check who is accessing the building. This not only helps to cut down on incidents but also reassures the public that their security is taken seriously.
What’s more, a multi-tiered privilege system must be in place which ensures that only the people who need access to certain areas of the building are given it. Museums and galleries are at high risk of so-called ‘inside jobs’ and so these types of measures are an absolute must. High risk areas where paintings, artwork and antiques are kept in storage should always be secured with access control such as biometric fingerprint readers, keypad or fob systems.
Together with other solutions like manned guarding, plainclothes supervisors, alarmed windows, motion detection, environmental sensors, glazing and vibration sensors, access control equipment can form a comprehensive security plan as detailed as the pieces of art hanging on the walls.
Gateway Automation provides a range of products including access control equipment to help businesses and individuals secure their sites against crime. We also provide nationwide servicing and repairs to gates, barriers and other perimeter security equipment. To find out more please call us on 01522 682255.