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Hundreds, if not thousands, of companies around the world collect art, Emily Norton shows why, and how, a collection can work for businesses

3 min read

While some corporate collections are little more than decoration, others are historical. Some collections are looked after by a staff of curators while others rely on outside advisers to ensure professional management. Some are largely open the public and others are only accessible to employees, clients and invited guests.

The top corporate art collections however fall under a category of their own, as proactive collectors. They do more than simply own work. International giants UBS and Deutsche Bank, for example, have worked hard to ensure that art is an integral aspect of their corporate identities.

Most large companies recognise the need to hang something on their walls. But why do some companies choose to be proactive collectors? The simple answer is that they have recognised that art can be an effective tool in branding both internally and externally.

By creating a stimulating and dynamic environment for employees and clients they stand out in the marketplace. Through strategic sponsorships of art institutions and events, companies not only bolster their art holdings, they also take advantage of unique opportunities for CSR and community involvement. The majority of these companies take the next step and offer staff and clients the chance to learn more about the art through dynamic partnerships within the art world.

UBS, which owns 35,000 pieces of modern and contemporary art, mainly acquires works by emerging and mid-career artists – a choice made because UBS discovered an opportunity to support living artists at important stages in their careers. Thanks to a planned schedule of moves, artworks are routinely rotated between offices around the globe, as well as, loaned out to major arts institutions including MoMA and Tate.

In Sweden law firm Vinge has taken what started as one Partner’s passion for collecting and created a vibrant work place. Parallel with collecting and exhibiting work by contemporary Swedish artists Vinge also sponsors both Moderna Museet and MARKET Art Fair. The collection combined with the sponsorships offer staff and clients tailored experiences within the arts.

Not everyone can be Deutsche Bank-with over 56,000 works of art on paper and a large scale international programme of arts based events and sponsorship, but with a relatively small investment of time and expertise, what was simply a decorative art collection can be transformed into a valuable asset and branding tool.

Emily Norton is one half of the art and communications consultancy Norton Cederström, based in Stockholm