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50 Mondriaans on the move

In 2016, 50 pieces of art by Piet Mondriaan and his contemporaries of the Dutch art movement De Stijl will be ‘on tour’ in Brazil. This is how KLM shipped the pieces from Amsterdam to São Paulo.

Get on board
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An enormous feat

The art is expected to draw over a million visitors. On loan from the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, the pieces will be exhibited in four cities across Brazil. For the first time, Brazilian Mondriaan fans can admire his masterpieces in their own home country. Yet flying such artistic baggage from the Netherlands to Brazil requires strict organisation and special expertise, which makes KLM the right airline for the job.

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The preparations

90 percent humidity

Art shipper Hizkia van Kralingen transports museum pieces practically every day and has been working with KLM for over 25 years. When the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag asked him to coordinate the shipping of the Mondriaans, he knew exactly what to do: “Months prior to the transport, a museum staff member and I flew to Brazil. We talked to the exhibit organisers, local shipping companies and customs.” Proper preparation is key when you are shipping such valuable cargo: “The humidity at the airport of São Paulo is 90%. You absolutely don’t want to take a painting out of the sealed case for a customs inspection."


Turtle carrier

You can’t ship art in a suitcase. It has to travel in a well-insulated, reusable case especially designed for art transport. Long before the trip, the art was placed in these so-called ‘Turtles’. This allowed the carrier to provide the exact measurements of the cargo to Brazilian customs. Like a turtle, this case has a hard shell and a soft interior that protects the paintings from temperature changes and turbulence during transportation.  

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On the day of the flight, the sealed cases were transported to Amsterdam Airport Schiphol by lorry. The Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, KLM and Hizkia van Kralingen all gathered there to accompany the flight.

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On board

Hazardous materials

Even on board the aircraft, there are numerous protocols to follow. The artwork must be kept away from liquids or inflammable items and the pallets must be placed in such a way that the art faces forward to prevent any damage caused by turbulence. Under the watchful eye of the art shipping company, KLM experts prepared the pallets. The cargo hold, where the Mondriaans were stored, was heated to exactly 18°C, the ideal temperature for art.

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Arrival in Brazil

Dutch heritage

Once the artwork arrived in Brazil, a local shipping company took over. But someone from the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag did accompany the works to check for any damage upon arrival. Van Kralingen is very proud of this project: “My greatest motivation is to showcase Dutch heritage to the rest of the world.” The exhibit will travel to four cities: São Paulo, Brasilia, Belo Horizonte and Rio de Janeiro, and will be displayed in the cultural centres of the sponsor: Banco do Brasil.


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