Tips for storing artwork

Storage guide - July 31, 2019

It might not surprise you that much when we say that storing your artwork is not the same as storing your old shoes or plastic pots. Howbeit, we will still say it. Because it is important to make that differentiation right from the beginning. Further meaning that you will need to allocate ample time in order to do this right. And the way to do it right is described in the text that follows, so make sure to read on.

A word of notice, however, is important. If you choose a reputable moving company New York, you won’t have to worry much about the proper storage unit, not the climate control, since they will have it all under control. You ought to, however, know how to prepare your artwork for storage. All the rest will be handled by the company of your choice since they most probably have a lot of experience and knowledge on the matter.

A gallery filled with antique artwork
Properly storing artwork is crucial for its safety and value. Professional storage unit owners know all about this.

Preparing artwork for storage

First things first – cleaning your artwork. You would start with a clean microfiber cloth, and remove any dust from hard surfaces. Try to get to those cracks and crevices to the best of your abilities, but do not risk damaging the piece. If necessary, we suggest that you use a wood polish or metal polish, in order to avoid any rust or scruffing.

Do not restrain from consulting a hardware store, and see what polish is best for your piece. This is done in order to prevent any dust particles, rust or damage from settling on your art. If you find this business to tricky, and too much to handle, know that there is another option. Consult your appraiser for a condition report, and have the piece professionally cleaned.

Speaking with experts and professionals

Speaking of professionals, you can also ask one for the best wrapping techniques. Collectors tend to have their pieces wrapped with saran before storing artwork. However, there is a risk that comes with this. Even if you use all the right styrofoam and cardboard with the goal of separating the art from the saran wrap, you risk trapping humidity inside. Some suggest that avoiding wrap altogether is the best option. Make sure to ask at least 3 experts before making a decision.

Art storage experts like to use crescent boards to separate pieces from touching when stacked or in transit. These acid-free professional mounting boards are great for its multipurpose of protecting the art, as well as letting it breathe. If you plan on moving your art, ask your residential movers Brooklyn if they have them in-store.

Five paintings in golden frames on a white wall
If any of the necessary steps confuses you, ask the people in your local galleries and museums if they can spare a bit of advice.

It is of paramount importance that you use only the materials that are acid-free. This means making sure that the framing and storage materials are all acid-free. Nothing else ought to be used. Materials that contain acid in them age faster and are prone to dying the back of the canvas or print, which can negatively affect the value of the piece.

Finding the proper room for storing artwork

Choosing professional storage units will save you a lot of hassle that follows. Still, if renting is not an option right now, listen closely. A closet or a small office in your home can be good options for storing artwork. However, it is important that the room that you choose is finished. This means that you ought to avoid attics or basements, unless they are finished, and have climate control. Make sure that there are no open windows, nor air vents. If a vent is unavoidable, speak to a specialist about creating a deflective device, so that the air does not blow directly on the artwork. In addition, you should be mindful of any dust, mold, or musty smells that could be the indicator of a bigger issue.

The last thing to try your best to avoid is storing your art in a  room that has an exterior wall. Ideally, you want to pick a room that is completely inside the house, having no contact with the outside. This eliminates harmful sunlight and weather that can damage and fade artwork.

Making sure that the climate is right

If you really want to follow all the rules when storing artwork, try to keep the humidity of the room at 40-50%, with the temperature between 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit (21-24 degrees Celsius). Although it sounds close to impossible at first, this is actually fairly easy to achieve with a humidifier. With a severe climate, you can get cracked paint, wrapping, yellowing of paper, and mold growth on your artwork. Still, when it comes to climate control, your two main enemies are rapid changes in temperature and humidity.

A celsius centigrade gauge glass
As long as you keep the temperature and humidity in check, your artwork ought to be just fine.

Now, when it comes to storing artwork, you do not need to stress too much, unless you are storing Ilya Repin’s paintings. When you think about it, your antique artwork has survived possibly hundreds of years in places that are not climate controlled. Meaning that they can be regarded as rather durable. Some of the pieces that have been around since before air conditioning can withstand a certain range of temperatures with ease. However, working with modern art means that you must be more cognizant. For example, an encaustic painting which is made of a wax-based paint tends to melt with surprising speed. Leaving it unattended during the summer months can end in disaster. Still, even though your art’s age is a factor to consider, we suggest that you stick by the golden rule. No matter the composition or age, you do not want a change in humidity of more than 5% in 24 hours.

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