It might go without saying that big time art collectors need somewhere to put their art world possessions when not on display, and there are indeed secure deposits which specialise in these particular arrangements. However most us don’t have such a luxury, and we may have more of an emotional rather than financial investment in the artworks we’ve picked up hanging on walls, or those created by nearest and dearest. So when it comes to moving and redecorating, and storage might be required, particular care needs to be given to ensuring that it is packed up securely.
First assess the materials the art is made of and any vulnerabilities. I am writing here mainly from the perspective of paintings, drawings, photographs and such wall art. It may be useful to consider if its framing is protective enough of the medium even for just basic handling, nevermind moving. Nothing should be directly touching the front of the art, even when fully packed. Have a look at this website which deals with mounting art for ideas and instructions for assemblage. If you already have a mounting, remove anything sharp that would be used to affix to walls, as you don’t want that getting the way and causing damage. Sculpture is a different matter, and by its very nature may need more specialist advice depending on what it is made of.
When it comes to actually preparing for storage many people turn immediately to the bubble wrap at this point, slapping a load on and hoping for the best. This will protect against knocks and scrapes, but it isn’t really a suitable material, as it may retain moisture and thus introduce the first stages of decay to your artwork. Far better is to use a generous amount of tissue-thin wrapping paper – it will do the same job at preventing physical defects whilst moving, whilst allowing a regular natural airflow to your art. You need to ensure the paper is acid free to prevent chemical reaction during storage, otherwise you will be introducing a new problem to the proceedings! Some prefer to use foam instead or as well, whatever option is fine as long as the art is well covered and the materials allow some “breathing” potential. Once wrapped, then cover with further paper and blankets etc. And if you have more than one item, labelling is very important!
Even though it is thoroughly wrapped, you can offer further protection to your art by considering the storage tactic in more depth. Like many items and materials discussed on this website, art is sensitive to climate conditions, such as heat, light and humidity, and climate controlled storage is ideal for this, and storage off the ground is also recommended to reduce the effect of rising ground moisture. A good solution is to keep your art in a cabinet or box with separators (again of a soft non-plastic material). This will keep the art securely stored and easy to retrieve for the day that it goes back up on display again.
Posted in: Storage Info