Life ad­vice

The as­sis­tant di­rec­tor of the Na­tional Gallery of Aus­tralia, Adam Wor­rall, has been de­sign­ing ex­hi­bi­tions for 30 years. But his lat­est project in­volved bor­row­ing jewels fit for a queen – lit­er­ally

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - Stellar - - Contents -

The Na­tional Gallery of Aus­tralia’s Adam Wor­rall on se­cur­ing jewels fit for a queen.

The jewels in our new Cartier ex­hi­bi­tion came from many places around the world. There were se­cu­rity lo­gis­tics around mov­ing jew­ellery that I never ex­pected be­cause I had never worked on an ex­hi­bi­tion of this kind be­fore. I can’t talk about these is­sues be­cause they’re top se­cret. If I told you, you’d likely be able to spot some­body on a plane and know they’re car­ry­ing a bag full of $30 mil­lion in jew­ellery.

I can tell you that there are se­cu­rity es­corts for the courier (the per­son trans­port­ing the items) along ev­ery sin­gle step of the way. From the mo­ment the courier leaves the mu­se­ums or pri­vate res­i­dences, to the air­port, through cus­toms and im­mi­gra­tion, un­til they get on the plane, there is se­cu­rity per­son­nel. It’s just like hav­ing a child; you’ve got to keep an eye on them at all times. The se­cu­rity will see that the bag with the jew­ellery gets put into an over­head locker, and ob­serve the locker be­ing locked. The se­cu­rity does not leave un­til the last door of the plane is ready to be closed, and air­line staff won’t open the door at the next desti­na­tion un­til se­cu­rity is stand­ing out­side the door of that plane.

It is a very tight op­er­a­tion. These are mil­lions of dol­lars worth of items we’re talk­ing about. Peo­ple al­ways ask me if some­thing has ever got­ten stolen or lost in tran­sit – the an­swer is “No.” Fin­gers crossed. Trust is a big part of how these ex­hi­bi­tions come to­gether. We asked for items that have never been loaned to Cartier ex­hi­bi­tions be­fore, and were amazed by the num­ber of peo­ple who said “Yes.” Cartier has also been im­pressed by the jewels we’ve man­aged to se­cure for this show.

One of the high­lights is the Queen’s ex­clu­sive loan to us. We wrote a let­ter to her, which was de­liv­ered by the keeper of the Queen’s col­lec­tion, and re­ceived word that she had worked out what jew­ellery she would be wear­ing be­tween May and Septem­ber of this year, and so she gen­er­ously agreed to loan items to us.

The Queen has cho­sen items from her per­sonal col­lec­tion that we asked for, but also things that have an at­tach­ment to Aus­tralia. She has worn the Wil­liamson brooch (with the pink di­a­mond) to Aus­tralia a num­ber of times. We’re par­tic­u­larly ex­cited to have the Cartier Halo tiara loaned by the Queen to the Duchess of Cam­bridge for her to wear on her wed­ding day in 2011 [pic­tured]. Cartier: The Ex­hi­bi­tion runs un­til July 22; tick­ets start at $20 from nga.gov.au.

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