Tips on how to prepare precious artwork for long term storage

Tips on how to prepare precious artwork for long term storage

Storing pictures is different than storing artwork. It takes tremendous care to ensure your artwork isn’t going to have any issues in storage. A priceless (or very expensive) piece of art can be ruined if proper care isn’t performed.

You’ll want to avoid tears, stains, smudges, pests, warping, fading, or tarnishing. Most, if not all, of these can be avoided when proper care is prescribed. Here are tips to make sure your fine art is cared for properly.

Of the following tips, these three are the most important for ANY painting or artwork.

Have a climate-controlled area

Keep the room at 70 degrees Farenhight.

Temperature is the number one element that ruins artwork (and wine for that matter). Fluctuating temperature will cause the painting to expand and shrink. Thus causing the painting to lose its shape and structure — especially if it’s made with a wood frame. The paint can crack, the painting can warp, the material can yellow, or the paper can mold if the proper temperature (and humidity) are not maintained. 

Maintain proper humidity

Keep the humidity at 50%. 

Too dry and the painting can chip. Too wet and you run the risk of mold or warping.

If you’re self-storing, keep a thermometer with a humidity reading to know what the current condition is. 

Purchase a humidifier or a dehumidifier if the conditions are not what they need to be.

Have a dark space ready

Light is a big culprit for fading, yellowing, and dryness. Keeping art wrapped and in a dark place will ensure that you are not deteriorating the quality of the image.

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Ensuring your art is ready for storage

In order to store your art, it must be ready to store. Here are a few things to check before putting it in long term storage:

  • Dry. Ensure the paints or oils are completely dry before storing them. Some oils take as long as a year to completely dry.
  • Clean. Use a microfiber cloth or soft makeup brush to wipe away any dust or dirt.
  • Protect. Use specific material to prepare for storing. Use Canson Glassine to protect your art. It’s a non-abrasive the will keep it from smudging and becoming damaged. Use bubble wrap for 3D art or sculptures.
  • Boxes. Use acid-free boxes large enough for art and sculptures.
  • Gloves. Use cotton or powder-free latex to handle artwork. The oil on your skin and fingers can interfere with the chemicals in the painting. Thus, possibly damaging it.

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Properly handling and packing your artwork

Take your time as you handle the art. It’s better to properly handle artwork and have it returned in the same condition rather than it be damaged when taken from storage.

Roll artwork in the Glassine paper and place in boxes. Use acid-free paper to line the box for extra padding. Label what’s inside the box so you can easily remember.

If it’s a larger piece, wrap it in bubble wrap and place flat off the ground. Avoid putting it on its side if you can. Being flat will reduce the likelihood of it warping.

Keep all boxes and artworks off the ground so water and pests can’t get to it.

Check back in about a month to see the condition of the artwork pieces. If the boxes are chewed, then extra attention will be to be given to avoid pests. 

If you are unsure of how to properly store expensive pieces of art, then consult a professional.

Contact Moishe’s Self Storage if you’re looking for cheap storage units in New York City to hold wine, art, or other things. Our Manhattan/The Bronx and Queens/Brooklyn Storage Facilities are conveniently located near you. We offer over 20 different storage unit sizes, available to individuals, students, and businesses. Reserve your room, view specials, or contact us.


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