Some Help for Artists, Galleries, Private Collections and Museums Impacted by Hurricane Sandy [UPDATED]

by Hrag Vartanian on October 31, 2012

Photo of a flooded West 21st Street, in the middle of the Chelsea gallery district. (Image courtesy curator Lindsay Howard)

As the Eastern Seaboard continues to recover from Hurricane Sandy, those impacted by the devastating storm are slowly coming to terms with the shock of losing art, furniture and other possessions, but we want them to know there are a few resources that can possibly help them with their recovery.

Help with Art Conservation & Recovery

We connected with a representative of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC), and they confirmed that their AIC-CERT program (CERT stands for Collection Emergency Response Team) has a help number, (202) 661-8068, and email, [email protected], that can aid any institution, organization, collectors, or artists who were impacted by Hurricane Sandy. Their volunteers are trained in dealing with art-related disaster relief and they can act as a remote or onsite resource for those unsure on how to proceed.

Eric Pourchot, institutional advancement director at AIC, explained that the organization has so far received four calls and two emails related to Sandy, but that is not unusual. “That’s typical as it takes people a while to assess what they need,” Pourchot says. Often calls and emails start rolling in 5–7 days after the disaster.

Pourchot mentioned that many people in the culture field are unaware of the resources available to people who need help after natural disasters. He explained that AIC confronted a similar situation in Joplin, Missouri, a city that was devastated by tornadoes last year. Pourchot said that the art institutions were not impacted by the disaster but a local artist community was ravaged by the disaster and by the time AIC-CERT arrived they realized that many artists had thrown out a lot of work that could’ve been saved with some conservation.

In addition to helping the tornado victims of Joplin, AIC-CERT has also helped institutions that were affected by Hurricane Ike and the recent Midwestern floods.

The following is the information in their “Resources for artists and galleries affected by Hurricane Sandy/ AIC-CERT” that they have begun circulating:

*****Do not throw damaged art away without first consulting a conservator!*****

Sources of assistance for artists and galleries:

Craft Emergency Relief Fund (CERF):, 802-229-2306

New York Foundation for the Arts:

AIC’s Find a Conservator service:

ArtsReady Useful Links:

See especially the links to funding for emergency relief.

Disaster response resources and salvage guides: 

AIC: (

NCPTT, Wet Recovery resources:

Heritage Preservation:

Connecting 2 Collections forum on disaster recovery:

Christie’s Reaches Out to Downtown Artists/Galleries

Sara Friedlander, Associate Vice President, Head of First Open at Christie’s in New York, says that the auction house would like to offer a helping hand to downtown artists or galleries who may need help. “We believe the art world is an ecosystem and what is happening downtown effects uptown,” she says.

Friedlander is arranging space at Christie’s for artists to use their laptops and charge their phones, and may be able to assist galleries with storage space for their art. Those interested, please call (212) 468-7177.

Legal Advice for Artists & Art Nonprofits

We received a note from artist, lawyer, and art blogger Sergio Muñoz Sarmiento that he is offering free legal advice to New York-based artists and nonprofit organizations that have been impacted by Post-tropical Cyclone Sandy.

His note to us read:

Given the devastation that many artists have faced post-Sandy, I will be taking phone calls from visual artists who were affected by Sandy if they have any questions pertaining to their damaged artwork or studios. Obviously, I’m not charging for the call; I just want to make my services available for anyone who is at a loss as to what rights they have or how they should go about in getting compensated for their losses.

If you can make this info available I would appreciate it. They can contact me at (347) 763–2023.

We asked him for specifics on what kind of matters would be appropriate to call him about and he mentioned:

Given the nature of the hurricane, any calls pertaining to an artist’s lost or damaged artworks, whether it was in their studio, home, gallery, or museum, and also calls pertaining to any damages to their studios or living areas.

For those artists or organizations in need. It sounds like a great offer.


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