Museum Insurance Built for Today's Cultural Activities


In late 2019, thieves broke into the Green Vault at Dresden's Royal Palace Museum and made off with up to 1B euros worth of 17th-century jewelry. More recently, in March of 2020, a Van Gogh oil painting was stolen from the Singer Laren Museum in the Netherlands while the facility was closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In both cases, a lack of credible leads along with insufficient museum insurance has left doubt as to whether the artifacts or their value will ever be recovered.

Though heists like this do occur, a museum or cultural institution is more likely to face these common claim and liability issues:


  • Damage or vandalism to exhibits
  • Damage to items out on museum loan
  • Water damage to museum property
  • Injury of patrons due to slips and falls


Museums have always had to contend with these operational exposures, but as museum attendance stagnates and cultural institutions seek new ways to draw in crowds, new exposure challenges are arising.

Some of the creative exhibits and events museums are now hosting include climbing walls, water areas, yoga practice, food or animal festivals, and more. These interactive events can generate renewed interest in cultural institutions, but they also come with more risks and greater potential losses.

To cover risks both new and old, cultural institutions need museum insurance with coverages tailored to their collections, premises, property, and activities.


The New Museum Experiences of Today

As museums compete with various other means for education and social interaction, they are innovating ways to reach a wider demographic. For many, this has included tapping into the social media space by creating "shareable" spaces and experiences both in museums and in surrounding cityscapes.

One example is the Renwick Gallery in Washington DC, which reopened after a full museum renovation. Wonder, the debut exhibit, was designed to startle, overwhelm, and fascinate museum-goers with an immersive experience.

Other museums and cultural spaces are bringing immersive experiences to visitors through technology. The ARTECH House in New York, for example, uses a laser show to create the sensation of stepping into the engine room of a spaceship.

By using their space and hours in non-traditional ways, museums are also trying to attract segments of the public that typically wouldn't have the time or interest to visit. The Victoria and Albert Museum of Design in London remained open through the night during Alexander McQueen's Savage Beauty exhibit. Meanwhile, New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET) regularly hosts teen nights for youth and MET Fridays until 9:00 p.m. with activities such as drawing class, art interpretation talks, cocktail hours, concerts, and performances.


Museum Insurance Considerations

As museums and cultural institutions innovate new ways to use their space and resources, they need the proper insurance coverage to protect valuable fine arts collections, people, and property.

To cover these unique risks, standard museum insurance should include:

General Liability Coverage

This provides coverage for claims related to third-party bodily injury due to slips and falls, as well as damaged museum property or installations.

Fine Arts Coverage

This protects valuable items in case they are damaged while on display, out on loan, in transit, or in storage.

Property Coverage

This covers buildings, business personal property, and business income. Fire, weather, and vandalism are just a few of the culprits that can cause costly damage to property and business operations.

Special Events Coverage

This is coverage for events and fundraising activities that fall outside of the museum's typical exposures. This may include beer festivals, concerts, or crafts festivals. Other special event circumstances and services that are likely to require additional insurance include the following:


  • Valet parking (Auto Liability)
  • Serving alcohol (Liquor Liability)
  • Events with a high volume of people (Special Events Insurance)
  • Amusement type exhibits, such as tube/water slides, climbing walls, zip lines, etc. (Possible separate General Liability policy and higher Umbrella limits)
  • Exhibits which move beyond the traditional boundaries of the institution (Fine Arts Coverage or Exhibition Coverage)
  • Overnight and day activities for children (Sexual Abuse and Molestation Liability)
  • STEM curriculums (Educators Professional Insurance)
  • Boats, kayaks, and other activities on lakes, rivers, oceans. (Marine/Hull Insurance)


To best protect their museum or cultural institution, operators should consult their insurance agent to understand their museum exposures and coverage needs. Agents can advise insureds on when special events coverage is needed, valuation of property and business income limits, and what insurance umbrella limits are adequate.


Museum & Cultural Institution Protection from PHLY

To get a best-fit insurance package for their museum's unique risks, operators will need a reliable insurance carrier that knows the industry and has the flexibility to cover specific exposures.

Philadelphia Insurance Companies (PHLY) has more than 30 years of underwriting experience in the public services sector, and we offer a comprehensive insurance program to meet the needs of museums and cultural institutions. Our representatives work with agents and insureds to design policies to cover their collections, buildings and business personal property, and business income.

PHLY's standard Museum and Cultural Insurance Program comes with General Liability Coverage, Elite Property coverages, Fine Arts Collection protection, and Automobile Liability. Additional coverages such as Liquor Liability, Directors and Officers Liability, Cyber Liability, and Special Events Insurance can also be written into policies.

With the majority of exposures covered under one policy by one carrier, museum operators can eliminate gaps in coverage, benefit from more competitive premiums, and receive all of the coverage support they need in one place.


Why Philadelphia Insurance Companies?

PHLY's flexible insurance policies are supported by our financial strength and risk management services. Our financial superiority is demonstrated by our AM Best A++ rating and recognition as a member of Ward's Top 50 Property and Casualty insurance companies.

PHLY insureds can also take advantage of our industry-leading risk management solutions which include:


  • Online training on a variety of relevant topics
  • Abuse prevention training
  • Emergency response plans
  • On-site consultation to determine slip and fall risks
  • Defensive driving training


As public interest evolves, the experiences museums offer are changing. To provide fun and safe cultural products and services, museum insurance policies need to evolve as well. To learn more about PHLY coverage for museums and cultural institutions, contact us today.

If you are a museum operator, inquire with your insurance agent about PHLY coverage. If you're an agent, please speak with your PHLY representative directly.

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