Proper artwork storage is not just about keeping it out of the way; it’s crucial for maintaining its value and aesthetic integrity over time. Whether you’re a budding collector or managing a professional gallery, understanding the things you need to know about storing artwork is essential. This guide provides seven vital tips that ensure your collection remains preserved under the best conditions possible. We’ll cover environmental control, choosing the right storage spaces, proper framing techniques, and more to help you maintain everything in pristine condition. Engaging with these guidelines will empower you to protect your investment and enjoy your collection for many years to come.

Understanding the Impact of Environmental Conditions

A white thermostat that shows 63 degrees

One of the main things you need to know about storing artwork is the ideal temperature, around 70 degrees.

Artwork is sensitive to its environment; thus, controlling temperature and humidity is crucial. Temperature should ideally be maintained around 70°F, with fluctuations kept to a minimum to prevent materials from expanding and contracting, which can cause damage over time. Humidity levels should be stable at around 50% to prevent the growth of mold and mildew. Light exposure also needs careful management—UV rays can fade colors and degrade materials rapidly. For items on display, consider using UV-filtering glass or acrylic, and for those in storage, ensure they are kept in dark, non-direct light environments. Such meticulous environmental control will greatly extend the life and beauty of your collection.

Choosing the Right Storage Location

Hallway with red storage units

Renting a quality storage unit is perfect for those who cannot provide optimal conditions at home.

Choosing an appropriate storage location is critical for the preservation of artwork. The space should allow each piece enough room to avoid contact with other items, which could cause scratches or pressure points. Make sure your storage area at home is dry, cool, and secure. Investing in proper storage is investing in longevity. It’s also essential to consider the safety and security of the location. For instance, self storage might be perfect for collectors who cannot provide optimal conditions at home. These facilities often offer climate control, security measures like surveillance and restricted access, and protection against environmental hazards such as water and fire damage.


Proper Framing and Mounting Techniques

Framing and mounting are more than aesthetic choices; they’re about preservation. Using archival-quality materials for framing, like acid-free mats and backing, helps prevent deterioration over time. The mounting technique should also ensure that the artwork is not under stress. For example, canvas paintings should be stretched properly on wooden bars to maintain tension without warping. Paper works may require hinging with archival tapes that do not degrade or damage the paper. Consultation with professionals can provide guidance tailored to specific types of artwork, ensuring that each piece is displayed beautifully while being preserved effectively.

The Role of Protective Coverings

Protective coverings play a significant role in the conservation of artwork during storage. Materials like acid-free tissue are perfect for wrapping paintings or delicate prints to prevent surface damage and dust accumulation. Padded covers can shield against physical damage and dust for three-dimensional works, such as sculptures. These coverings must allow the artwork to breathe, avoiding moisture buildup that could lead to mold or mildew. Ensuring that your protective materials are of the highest quality and appropriately used can significantly mitigate risks associated with long-term storage. Additionally, consider using silica gel packets within the storage containers to help control moisture levels for items that will be stored for extended periods. This extra step helps maintain an optimal microenvironment for your collection, further protecting it from potential harm.

Handling and Transportation

Hand in a blue rubber glove

When handling art pieces, wear gloves to prevent the transfer of skin oils to the artwork.

Handling and transportation are critical things you need to know about storing artwork safely. Always move it by lifting it from the frame or base, avoiding contact with the artwork surface. Wearing gloves can prevent the transfer of skin oils to the artwork, which can degrade materials over time. When transporting items, especially over long distances, using custom-designed crates that provide stability and shock absorption can prevent damage. These crates should be climate-controlled if the artwork is especially sensitive. Regular training on proper handling can also be beneficial for those who manage art collections, ensuring that all handlers are knowledgeable and careful.

Regular Maintenance and Monitoring

Maintaining and monitoring your stored pieces regularly can prevent many common issues from developing into serious problems. Establish a routine to inspect artwork for any signs of damage, such as mold growth, fading colors, or cracking. The integrity of frames and supports should also be checked to ensure they remain secure and effective. Dusting and cleaning should be done with appropriate materials that do not leave residues or cause damage. Keeping a detailed report for each piece can help track any changes over time and is crucial for professional collections.

Consulting with Professional Conservators

When uncertain about the best way to handle a specific piece, consulting with a professional conservator can be invaluable. Conservators can provide expert advice based on the latest research and extensive field experience. They can address complex issues related to specific materials or techniques used in your artwork. Finding a trusted conservator can ensure that your art receives the best care possible- This is especially important for old, fragile, or extremely valuable pieces. This professional input is a critical component of maintaining a high-quality collection.

Final Thoughts on the Things You Need to Know About Storing Artwork

Remembering these key things you need to know about storing artwork can significantly enhance the longevity of your collection. By following these detailed practices, you ensure that your art, whether three-dimensional or two-dimensional pieces, remains vibrant and intact for future generations to admire and enjoy. It’s vital to regularly assess and adapt your storage strategies as your collection grows and changes. Consulting with art preservation professionals can provide tailored solutions and peace of mind for those who encounter unique challenges or possess especially valuable pieces. This way, you will maintain their condition and value for years to come.