Artwork and Artefact Protection at Waddesdon Manor
Waddesdon Manor was built by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild between 1874 and 1885 to display his outstanding collection of arts and to entertain the fashionable world. Opened to the public in 1957, it’s managed by The Rothschild Foundation, a family charitable trust, on behalf of the National Trust. Waddesdon is internationally famous for its collection of eighteenth-century decorative arts, together with important British, Dutch and French paintings. One evening in June 2003 the Johnson family (a notorious crime gang) broke into Waddesdon Manor and stole gold snuff boxes and antiques worth over £5m. This event triggered a comprehensive security upgrade at which point Fortecho started discussions with the Waddesdon management.
- Management were looking at physical and electronic security to work in unison.
- The building is Grade 1 listed, with many different rooms, so a hard-wired solution internally was not viable. The building also has thick stone walls, so a wireless system that could penetrate these walls would be required.
- Artworks are on open display, some hanging on walls, some on shelves, some on tabletops, so a fully flexible object protection system was required. The objects are extremely diverse and include many paintings, prints, tapestries, porcelain, furniture, clocks, books and silverware.
- The system needed to be integrated with other security systems with 24-hour monitoring.
Tags are attached invisibly to or near artworks, and the receivers are placed in “back of house” areas.
Long life tags transmit a heartbeat signal every 30 seconds for a minimum period of seven years thus reducing the human cost involved in swapping tags on expensive artworks.
When a tag is triggered, it transmits detailed information to the Fortecho software via the network of concealed receivers four times/second.
The same software warns if the receiver network is in any way compromised.
In the event of an alarm, the Fortecho software displays the location of the artwork, and the CCTV system is immediately activated for visual verification and evidence. The system requires minimal day-to-day management and alarm thresholds can be set for individual works of art.