Protecting Cultural Heritage


Protecting Cultural Heritage

Art Guardians have over 15 years experience in the Protection of Cultural Heritage. Dedicated to a discreet and confidential service, Art Guardians has expertise in investigating and resolving Art Crime, Art Fraud, Art Authenticity and matters relating to the security and protection of Cultural Heritage.

Art Guardians assess problematic work circulating within the art market belonging to Contemporary Australian artists such as Albert Tucker, Brett Whitely and Robert Dickerson as well as Australian Indigenous painters from Utopia, Central Arnhem Land and Groote Eylandt.

Art Guardians provide expert museum-standard advice and assessment across Australia in the areas of Art Crime, Art Authenticity, Significance & Preservation Needs Assessments, Collection Management, Museum Training, Tourism Accreditation and Event management & Logistics.

Art Guardians appraise and manage private estates for individuals and art collectors, including those belonging to leading Australian artists, as well as many public collections across Australia. Connoisseurs or those just beginning their own collections can be offered advice on potential art selection and how to donate works through the Federal Tax Incentives for the Arts Scheme.

Art Guardians assist in disaster preparedness, such as how to manage your collection during the bushfire season, and policy development for small museums.

Collection Assessments

ART GUARDIANS are respected by the National Library of Australia as qualified and experienced assessors of the Community Heritage Grants offered each year to museums and historical collections across Australia. Since 2007, ART GUARDIANS have provided both NLA Significance Assessments and NLA Preservation Needs Assessments to a wide range of collecting institutions in Vic, SA, & NSW - specializing in remote and regional Australia. ART GUARDIANS offer strategic and best practice management of public and community collections.

Grants are open each year in late March and submission is required by end May. The outcome is announced early November and successful applicants have approximately 12 months to complete their assessments. The NLA offers vital information to applicants, which you should consider at the earliest opportunity.

How to Prepare For a NLA Significance Assessment

How to Prepare For a NLA Preservation Needs Assessment

ART GUARDIANS have provided assessments to Museums, Art Galleries, Cultural Centres, Historical Societies, Heritage Homes, Government Archives and Public Repositories. ART GUARDIANS prepare a thorough review of collections and deliver state-of-the-art reports according to the standards set by the Australian Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Materials (AICCM).

ART GUARDIANS are registered as qualified heritage consultants with Museums Australia (NSW); Museums Australia (VIC); Museums Australia (SA); Museums Australia (QLD); Australian Archivists Society; Heritage Victoria; and Australian Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Materials.

Art Crime

Stolen or fraudulent art has been traded around the world for centuries and remains a very lucrative business. Often linked to organised crime by international authorities, the FBI and UNESCO have estimated that global black market trade in stolen cultural property pulls an annual turnover of over 6 billion dollars.

In Australia, the creation and trading of fraudulent artworks are by far the greater concern than crimes related to stolen or looted art. ART GUARDIANS have been examining questionable artwork for several years now and whilst the market always cautions 'buyer beware' much stronger public policies need to be in place. Due diligence and rigorous scrutiny of provenance records are vital to breaking the cycle.

Collectors need to be aware of both problematic art and problematic dealers, as do institutions. For almost 15 years the Australian academic community has analysed art crime and sought to develop practical ways to address this threat to the art industry.

In 1999, the Australian Institute of Criminology held the first Australian conference 'Art crime: protecting art, protecting artists and protecting consumers'. By 2015, a second conference was staged by the University of Western Sydney 'The Art Game Symposium'.

The work of leading indigenous artist, Rover Thomas, was jeopardised in 2007 when Melbourne couple Pamela and Ivan Liberto were found reproducing the artists' work which they had passed on to auction houses and subsequently purchased by unknowing collectors. Convicted and jailed for art fraud, the Liberto's still claim the works were original.

ART GUARDIANS have expertise in the scientific examination and materials analysis of works that have been found to be problematic, including the close scrutiny of works purported to be by leading Australian artists such as Albert Tucker, Brett Whitely, Charles Blackman, Robert Dickerson and Grace Cossington-Smith.

Collection Management

ART GUARDIANS have been selected to manage, appraise and assess a vast number of artworks from private collections - ranging from collections held by connoisseurs, artists themselves or early career collectors.

In 2008, ART GUARDIANS were appointed to work with the Albert Tucker Estate to review, assess, photograph and record the entire remaining collection now held by his widow, Barbara Tucker. Maxine Holden began an intense research program that included a full review of Tuckers artworks, private collection, papers and archival records, working alongside Barbara for almost two years in the preparation of a catalogue raisonnè (yet to be published).

Albert Tucker was a leading and significant interpreter of Australian themes, recognised and acknowledged nationally and internationally as one of the greatest Australian artists to date. Born in Melbourne in 1914, he pioneered modern expressionism in Australia and drew many of his early images from the aftermath of World War II and the Depression. He lived in Europe and America from 1947 until 1960 and gained a notable reputation for his one-man exhibitions in New York, Amsterdam, Paris, Rome, London and Mexico City.

Tuckers' works were drawn or painted using a variety of medium including pen, ink, pastel, crayon, watercolour, gouache, oil paint, and synthetic polymer paint on a variety of surfaces including paper, card, canvas, hardboard, composition board, plywood and gauze.

In the mid 1950s Albert Tucker began to explore the textures of the Australian outback and its primeval, frontier qualities. He developed several series related to this period, including Explorers, Intruders and Antipodean Heads. Perhaps best known for works from the series Image of Modern Evil, Albert Tucker pushed the bounds of Modernism with his interpretation of Melbourne's post-war anarchy and moral desolation represented in a central female form (both abstract and erotic) and an impenetrable city (both corrupt and foreboding).

Image of Modern Evil began in 1943 as Night Images and continued to evolve and appear in Tucker's work until his death. A limited edition of bronze sculptures (relating to the Image of Modern Evil) were created in 1972. His paintings are held in many major worldwide collections and continue to draw critical acclaim long after his death.

Heritage Accreditation

Over the years, Art Guardians have assisted community heritage facilities in the Museums Australia Accreditation Program (MAP) including the Victorian National Trusts' Old Melbourne Gaol and Parks Victoria's State Coal Mine. Museums Australia (Victoria) runs this program across the State and assists with attainment of ten key principles. Art Guardians can support your organisation in preparing for accreditation and addressing these principles.

For many years Art Guardians were engaged in the Building Better Regional Museums program and saw many remote and regional cultural organisations achieve funding to improve and acknowledge their built heritage.

Local History

Local History Collections are an important key to understanding our past. Interpreting and defining your history helps tell the unique story of your community.

ART GUARDIANS can help your organisation create a lasting and valuable memoir of the people, buildings, places and events that shaped your heritage.

We manage the archives of historical societies, schools, churches, railways, newspapers, cottage industries, sporting clubs, mechanical institutes, fire stations, timber mills, corporate organisations, civic municipalities and lots more.

Local history enriches our lives and represents our past. Let us help you record and manage your community’s cultural heritage.

We have over 15 years experience in the history sector with expertise in archival and collection management. Contact ART GUARDIANS to discuss your research needs.


ART GUARDIANS are skilled professionals who are able to assess and manage your collection, ensuring appropriate care and protection that satisfies both personal and insurance needs to museum standard.

The analysis of art objects is vital in the process of authentication. This process involves assessing and reviewing the objects' provenance, technique and historical background, coupled with the application of modern scientific methods. Forgeries are common in the national and international art market and are increasingly challenging to detect by the use of traditional methods only.

This vital task of analysis involves an array of techniques including optical microscopy, X-ray diffraction (XRD), X-ray fluorescence (XRF) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM), as well as infrared (IR) and Raman spectroscopy. At this level of assessment, ART GUARDIANS are examining what might be considered 'the DNA' of an object - tracing the origin to the paints or inks used, the canvas or paper base on which the work is supported, the type of timbers used to construct a mount, even the brush strokes of markings left by the artist.

ART GUARDIANS carry out such forensic testing, on site, to examine works using Infrared and Ultra Violet technologies providing an initial report and qualified assessment on the condition of each object - investigating each work for authentication, detection of alteration and determination of origin. The object may then be taken to state-of-the-art laboratories for more complex and professional analysis.

ART GUARDIANS will complete fully documented statements in accordance with the National Standards for Australian Museums and Galleries. ART GUARDIANS are trusted specialists in their field, supporting a great range of organisations whose collections may be large or small.


ART GUARDIANS are often asked to value objects and collections for insurance purposes, on behalf of Deceased Estates or for the cultural gifts program 'Tax Incentives for the Arts'. As members of the AVAA (Auctioneers & Valuers Association of Australia) ART GUARDIANS are qualified valuers and will ensure items or collections meet the assessment criteria established by the Australian Government.

In assessing an object, its current market value must be established. After a thorough examination, ART GUARDIANS provide a detailed Condition Report before carrying out investigative research to determine its value using the sales comparison method whereby sales figures from both the primary and secondary art markets over a period of years helps formulate the value. This is followed by an existing collection comparison where similar works by the same artist and of the approximate date and series type help establish the value.

Once again, provenance plays a critical role in both authentication and valuation - as without a history of ownership, tracking its origins or estimating its value becomes a more complex and problematic exercise.


ART GUARDIANS have been engaged with the Victorian Tourism industry since 2010, operating as consultative advisers to the City of Greater Geelong, the Baw Baw Shire Council, the Wellington Shire Council and the City of Latrobe.

ART GUARDIANS have also provided professional services to the West Gippsland Tourism Association in the design, preparation and publication of the Tourism Victoria Official Visitors Guide for West Gippsland 2011, 2012 and 2013.

Working on behalf of the Walhalla Mountain Rivers Tourism Association, ART GUARDIANS have delivered strategic advice for the planning and delivery of the Annual Walhalla Vinter Ljusfest for five consecutive years. This project was established in 2011 under the auspices of Regional Development Victoria's Putting Locals First project and with generous financial support from Tourism Victoria.

As part of the WMRTA, the town runs and manages the Walhalla Goldfields Railway. ART GUARDIANS have provided policy and procedure, as well as senior executive support to the Board of Management since 2013.

Training & Workshops

ART GUARDIANS are qualified educators within the academic and museum fields. Training and education will always comply with the National Standards for Australian Museums and Galleries. ART GUARDIANS offer the following training opportunities:

Collection Management: Basic Care
This workshop will give an introduction to best practices in caring for any collection. Topics covered will include: handling guidelines, assessing storage materials and special needs items, prioritizing for treatment, and understanding preservation and conservation terminology. This program is appropriate for those looking to develop new skills, as well as for individuals wanting to increase their knowledge about best practices in the care of cultural & historical collections.

Protecting Collections: Disaster Prevention, Planning & Response
This workshop will guide participants in risk mitigation, emergency planning and preparedness, response, and recovery. Topics covered will include: developing an emergency preparedness and response plan, learning to implement the plan under duress, setting pre- and post-disaster action priorities for collections, & practical decision-making skills during an emergency or disaster.

When To Say No - Refining Your Collection Policy
A fundamental component of your museum or collection is a series of policies that define your collecting objectives and set forth any procedures that you want staff, volunteers, the public or your colleagues to follow - whether collecting, acquiring, disposing or gifting. It is also vital to clarification of purpose and consistency in decision making. This workshop helps you understand when to collect and when to say 'No'.

Loan Agreements - Why They Are Vital
Just as important to any collection is the capacity to bring in works to bolster an exhibition or to allow loans from your collection to travel elsewhere, bringing a positive focus to your collection as a whole. This workshop will explain why loans should further the intent of your collection objectives and needs to be considered at a high level. The importance of condition reporting and time limits will also be addressed.

Digitising Basics
Every institution struggles with pressure to be visible on the web and to make its collections accessible to wider audiences, and many face daunting hurdles to implementing digitisation programs. This program will cover basic issues in digital preservation - including an introduction to digitisation, hands-on steps for digitizing objects, selection of materials, creating a suitable database, accessing digitised materials and possible funding sources to create your web presence.

Preparing a Significance Assessment Grant
This seminar will cover the important issues that should be considered when preparing to submit an NLA Significance Assessment Grant. Emphasis will be on preparing the grant narrative, making the case for your project, getting requisite information from consultants, and putting together a good budget. This seminar is for those who have identified a need within their collection and want to learn strategies for preparing a strong application.

Archive Basics
This workshop will guide participants in proper archival procedures to enable safe and effective management of collections. Topics will include the fundamentals of archival appraisal, acquisition, and assessment, proper storage materials and common preservation problems associated with paper-based archival collections. This program will touch briefly on processing, arrangement, and description. ART GUARDIANS offers an introduction to best practices in the field.

Archive Care & Preservation
Preservation is a fundamental component to any archival program. This class will provide students with a practical approach to preserving the manuscript collections and records housed in their repositories and can significantly benefit an institution, regardless of its size or scope. The emphasis will be on stabilizing materials (for example, by removing damaging fasteners), re-housing, flattening rolled or folded documents, encapsulation, photocopying, and segregating fragile items. Through the preventive actions archivists contribute to extending the useful life of collections entrusted to their care.


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