The building also includes a viewing room that can be used for showing works, appraisals, restoration or photography as well as gallery space. An on-site crate shop allows workers to build customized crates and other storage materials; the company hired Florida native and crating expert Richard Martinez from New York’s Boxart to lend expertise. He is Museo Vault’s service manager and one of the company’s 11 fulltime employees.
When Museo Vault first opened, only one floor was built out with pre-fabricated units that ranged from 50 square feet to 500 square feet. Another floor was set aside for custom-made units, with the company leaving the other three floors to be filled in as needed. By the end of this summer, Amor said, the final floor will be built out. Storage prices average about $3 per square foot per month.
A regular self-storage facility near Midtown Miami, by comparison, charges between $1.20 and nearly $2 a square foot per month, depending on the unit’s size.
Amor said the company tries to accommodate every type of need, whether individual or institutional.
“If you are a client that has a vast collection of art and needs 4,000 square feet, we can build it from scratch,” she said. “If you are remodeling the dining room and kitchen and want to remove three pieces for a couple of months and you just need a slot to store three flat works, we have that too. And everything in between.”
Ruderman said he, Lombardi and other partners worked hard to spread the word out about the business in the early days.
The Margulies Collection, which has kept its art collection in Wynwood for 14 years, was one of the company’s earliest clients. Curator Katherine Hinds said she first learned of Museo Vault through Lombardi, an art lover himself who would frequent the collection..
Hinds said the company handles the logistics necessary when the collection loans important works to museums.
“Today, art is made of very unorthodox materials,” Hinds said. “It’s not always a straightforward crate. They’re very adept at knowing the historical importance of works and knowing how to handle the unorthodox nature of contemporary art.”
Lombardi also contacted the Bass Museum of Art in Miami Beach about the facility, said director of exhibitions Chelsea Guerdat.
At the time, South Florida offered only a couple of other options, Guerdat said. Those included Fortress Miami and Artex in Broward. But Museo Vault was eager to work with the institution, designing the space they needed and offering incentives.
The Bass first used the company for storage, but only moved some items from other facilities on a trial run. Eventually the museum started tapping the company’s resources to make local deliveries and pack, crate and ship works.
“They focused on the local market first and provided good services to the local community,” Guerdat said. “That grew with time...First it was storage, then it was shipping, crating, viewing areas. And now to have gotten all of that right so far, they’ve been able to branch out.”
Amor said that after a difficult 2008, business improved in the following years. By 2010, she said, the company saw a boom in international clients as well as a solid number of relationships with institutions.