System Tallies Art Collection

Earlier this year, Harris Bank decided to inventory its extensive collection of paintings, sculptures, and antique rugs. But staffers thought it was too time-consuming to sift through the file cards and photos that catalogued the works.

Imaging provided a cost-effective solution.

"It took them about six months to put the system together," said William R. Moroney, publisher of the newsletter, Financial Imaging News. "Auditors finally were able to determine the value of the entire collection."

Barbara Wystrach, vice president at the Chicago-based bank, said the imaging system will save time and money as the collection grows. She added that there is talk of using the system to keep track of the bank's furniture inventory.

The system itself was built by Charles Kanupp, a technical specialist at Harris. Its components include a video camera, software called Pixsure File, an image-capture board, and a program developed by Mr. Kanupp with DMC Enterprises, a consulting firm in Chicago.

Filming the collection and setting up the database took about three months of part-time work, Mr. Kanupp said.

"We played each video cassette back until we got the right exposure for the image."

Most companies record their collections on cards similar to those once used at Harris, said Anne Lyman, partner in Lyman/Heizler Associates, a Chicago-based art advisory firm. But such systems are cumbersome and can make identification difficult for anyone unfamiliar with the artwork.

"Harris is very avant garde," Ms. Lyman said. "I don't believe any of the major corporate collections in Chicago have this type of system."

Harris declined to reveal the cost of the system. But banking consultant James S. Cowen said an art archiving system can be created for between $25,000 and $30,000.

PHOTO : AVEC MOI-MEME, a work by Sonia Delaunay, is part of the Harris Bank collection.

Lynn Homa is a freelance writer based in New York.

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