How to Fly 50 Mondrian Paintings to Brazil

Posted by at 11:41

Early this week, KLM flew 50 paintings by Piet Mondrian and 25 drawings and etchings from the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag to Brazil. It’s a special cargo that involves quite a few steps in the process. Let me tell you just how KLM Cargo does it.

The Gemeentemuseum Den Haag has got the world’s largest collection of paintings by Piet Mondrian, almost 300 pieces of artwork. This year, a major portion of the collection is scheduled for exhibition in Brazil – in São Paulo, Brasilia, Belo Horizonte and, finally, in Rio de Janeiro. They will remain in each place for three months. The traveling exhibition, an initiative of Banco do Brasil, shows mainly artworks by Piet Mondrian, completed with works by artists of De Stijl, such as Bart van der Leck and Theo van Doesburg.

ART Campagne Hizkia Gemeentemuseum_MG_1997_NLibbert


It’s quite a task to get them there. The Dutch company Hizkia Van Kralingen specialises in the packing and transport of art and is in demand around the globe for its skills.

Mondrian Painting in box

To protect the paintings as well as possible, HVK packs them in boxes – called ‘Turtles’ – which they have designed themselves. Thanks to a system of flexible corner blocks, they can transport artworks of just about any size.

ART Campagne Hizkia Gemeentemuseum_MG_1931_NLibbert

The boxes are built of materials that ensure a stable interior climate and absorb external vibrations. This way, we can make sure we give those Mondrians, which we hold so dear, a safe trip. Just the way they like it! ;)

ART Campagne vertrek SPL_MG_6028_NLibbert

Day of departure

At 5:00 AM, Hizkia Van Kralingen delivered the Mondrian family to KLM Cargo by lorry. That’s right, 5:00 in the MORNING! And, yes, I was there to see it. Of course, there was a lot of security present. After all, you can imagine that these paintings are worth a few pennies.

ART Campagne vertrek SPL_MG_6230_NLibbert

Once all the paintings were unloaded, they were carried – ever-so-carefully – into the Cargo Building, where they were sealed and affixed to pallets. This made it possible to load them into the aircraft easily.

ART Campagne vertrek SPL_MG_6877_NLibbert

Loading the aircraft

The pallets were then loaded into the aircraft by using a special lift. An interesting factoid: The paintings were placed in a standing position and in the direction in which they flew. That makes them less susceptible to vibration. Also, the area where the Mondrians stayed was warmed to 18° C. Nice and warm.

ART Campagne vertrek SPL_MG_6368_NLibbert

ART Campagne vertrek SPL_MG_6475_NLibbert

Arrival in Brazil

When the aircraft landed in sunny Brazil, the Mondrian family was unloaded and brought directly to the cargo shed. From there, they were taken by lorry to the exhibition space. This, of course, has to happen pretty quickly, because we’d like to keep them out of the tropical temperatures. They don’t particularly seem to like that…

ART Campagne vertrek SPL_MG_6857_NLibbert

The exhibition will open 25 January in São Paulo. Do you plan to pay a visit?

I made this video to give you an idea!

23 Responses to How to Fly 50 Mondrian Paintings to Brazil

  1. Marta de Souza

    So good to hear about that exhibition here in São Paulo. I will be there for sure and will be nice to check all that art work, knowing previously how carefully the cargo was treated.
    Thanks for KLM for this detailed post… kind and warm regards far from Brazil!!

    • Djamilla

      Thanks for your kind words, Marta!
      And how cool that you’ll be visting the exhibition.
      Will you let us know how it was?

      • Marta de Souza

        Hi Djamilla! Went to the exhibition last Saturday and posted pics on Twitter. Have a nice day!

  2. Paul Smeele

    As a retired 747 captain I really appreciate the posts coming to me via this blog.
    Thank you for this way of keeping in touch with the company!
    One small remark: even in English Mondriaan is called Mondriaan, not Mondrian.

    Keep up the good work!

    • Djamilla

      How lovely to hear this from you, Paul!
      Isn’t it just great that you can keep updated through mediums like these. And it’s these kind of responses that keep me inspired. Thanks for that!

      And responding to Piet’s last name; since he became internationally known, he decided to change his name into Mondran. Pretty smart already back then in 1902, don’t you think? ;)

      • Wim van Sinderen

        Corrections: Mondran = Mondrian / 1902 = 1940’s

  3. Stef

    Leuk stuk en trots om voor Van Kralingen te werken!

    • Djamilla

      Wat gaaf om te horen, Stef!
      Jullie hebben een prachtig bedrijf. Terecht dat je trots bent!

  4. Judith

    Great blog, nice video – awesome Hizkia and team!! If only you would be Members of ICEFAT lol.
    Talk soon!

    • Djamilla

      Thanks for your nice respond, Judith!
      And who knows what the future brings concerning ICEFAT… ;)

  5. Orlando

    Just loved your reference to the “few pennies” involved. LOL
    Just love the way you make daily airport operations to become a special event.
    Just love KLMs way to show themselves to the world.
    Cheers from Brazil!

    • Djamilla

      Just LOVE your awesome feedback, Orlando!
      You just put a smile on my face. ;)
      Thanks for that.

  6. Antonio vieiera de Paulo

    Ansioso para ver as obras.Estarei aguardando por elas em Belo Horizonte.Lembrarei com certeza do cuidado e carinho que tiveram para que chegassem ate nos em segurança.Espero ver em breve também as lindas aeronaves azuis da KLM nos céus de Minas Gerais/Brasil ligando os aeroportos de Confins e Schiphol em vôos sem conexões .

  7. Betty

    So to say: state of the art flying by KLM!

    • Djamilla

      You are so right, Betty!! ;)

  8. George Araújo

    I am a Klm colleague from Guarulhos Airport (tkt counter). I am very proud to be part of this team.

    • Djamilla

      So am I, George!
      Say hi to the team from me. ;)

  9. Ernst Daniel Nijboer

    Great news that the works of Piet Mondriaan will be exhibit in Brazil.
    Mondriaan was, and still is, one of the inspiring artist for the contemporary artists in Brazil. Piet Mondriaan inspires Brazilian artists

    • Djamilla

      What a great video, Ernst.
      Inspiring indeed!!
      Thanks for sharing it with us.

  10. Arie de Groot

    hi folk, beste mensen helaas weet ik weining af van de werken van Piet Mondriaan maar wel heb ik ongeveer 70 Suske en Wiske albums getekend door o.a. Willie van de Steen, en wie heft die nooit gelezen? in #118 gaat het om de Super Constellation grandioos!, mijn vraag is hoeveel albums van S. & W. hebben tekeningen van KLM toestellen? zo ver ik weet o.a. #104 DC 9 or DC 10, #118, #198 City hopper en een drie jet engine toestel,# 222 B 474 Jumbo jet, # 230 B747, # 241 B747, #248 B747. er zijn ook albums met Schiphol Oost getekend, welk album is de KLM Cargo, helaas miet in mijn verzameling. ik ben heel benieuwd hoeveel. alvast bedank groeten van uit Schotland

    • Djamilla

      Wauw! Je weet wel heel erg veel van Suske & Wiske, Arie.
      Wat gaaf dat je zoveel exemplaren van Willie van de Steen hebt liggen.
      Helaas kan ik je niet vertellen in welke nummers KLM of KLM Cargo voorkomt…
      Misschien kun je deze vraag aan Willie stellen? Die weet het vast! ;)

  11. Luis Cláudio da Silva Macedo

    Bom dia senhores, moro em Santos, litoral de São Paulo e eu vou ver esses quadros maravilhosos no CCBB. I will see all!!!

    • Djamilla

      How awesome, Luis!!
      Now I am a bit jealous… ;)

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