How to store art – Everything you need to know

How to store art

If you own several paintings and you need to store some away for safekeeping, you must make sure everything is done right. You want to make sure that your paintings are store properly to keep them in perfect condition until you are ready to parade them again.

There are a lot of risks associated with storing paintings, especially high-value ones or ones that you cherish. Although nerve-wracking, storing your art improperly can end up costing you thousands in both damages and repairs. However, when done right, setting up at-home storage space for your artwork can save you monthly expenditure in commercial storage space.

Plus, with your paintings close to you, you will always have peace of mind knowing that they are tucked away safely in a quiet corner of your home. Even if you intend to store your art in a storage unit, it is important to know how to store art properly. All art deserves to be stored properly, regardless of how expensive or inexpensive it was.

When you store your paintings correctly, you will find it a lot easier to rotate the display of your pieces depending on the mood or season. Furthermore, it is not advised that you hang a painting for too long as it can cause fading and cracking. As such, you should rotate your pieces, especially those painted on canvas using acrylic paint, now and again to prevent that from happening.

Without further ado, let’s dig into the basic of how you should store your art correctly:

Cleaning and preparing your paintings before storage

Before you pack away any painting or artwork, for that matter, it is essential to give it a good clean in order to protect it. Wiping down your paintings before you put them away will be instrumental in making sure that no damage whatsoever comes to them.

When cleaning, you want to use a microfiber cloth to get rid of any dust from all the surfaces. Be gentle when wiping and be careful not to use too much force or friction. Also, pay close attention to any paint or fabric layers and remember to clean the accents or frames.

If your painting contains any metallic elements, consider giving it a rub down with a bit of oil to prevent any rust from forming. If you want, you can also use some quality polish on the wooden frames for an added layer of protection.

To protect the integrity of any framed painting or artwork, add some corners made out of cardboard over the edges of the frame and tape them in place. If your space is limited, you can also remove the frame to maximize your storage space.

If your art has heavy frames that come with sharp hooks for hangings attached, be sure to face the paintings towards each other so that the surfaces do not get ripped when moving them. If there are any glass components in your artwork, you will also need to secure the artwork from damage.

Broken glass can cause some serious damage to art so use some glass tape to secure the glass in place during storage. Apply the tape to the glass in a star formation to give your art the maximum protection it deserves. To avoid damage altogether, you can also remove the glass until you are ready to display your art or painting again.

Pack away your paintings or artwork before storage

If you intend to store your paintings for a long time, it means that you will have to pack them securely until you are ready to bring them out again. The good news is that once you have done everything to prepare and clean your large paintings, picture, framed posters, or anything else for that matter, then the process of packing it away is relatively straightforward.

To pack your painting safely, it is best to invest in mirror boxes. The bad news is that you will need to carry out a bit of research to find mirror boxes in your location, as they aren’t typically readily available at a grocery store. Mirror boxes can be quite an expense, but if you want to give your paintings the best protection possible, then they are your best bet.

Mirror boxes are durable and will keep your paintings and artwork safe for years. You can find mirror boxes at moving companies that will sell them to you. When buying your mirror boxes, also include some acid-free packing paper and tapes. Invest in some paper pads as well to help provide much-needed cushioning to your artwork.

Be very careful when handling your paintings. Not many people know this, but the natural oil found on your hands can also cause some damage to them. As such, if you are handling valuable paintings, always have gloves on. This will prevent you from leaving fingerprints on works or, worse, scratching a sensitive surface with your fingernails.

Prepare the ideal storage environment that will suit the quality of your paintings or artwork

1. Start by picking the right storage space

Most people looking to store their paintings simply find space for them in their attic or basement. Although there is nothing wrong with keeping your paintings in a basement or attic, there are a few considerations that you have to pay attention to if you want your pieces to last.

You want to make sure that your attic or basement has optimal conditions to store your paintings in. For instance, you should only keep your artworks in your attic or basement if they are fully finished, well insulated, and climate-controlled from severe temperatures. Basements also tend to flood easily, so you need to make sure that the chances of that happening are slim.

For artwork and paintings to last, they need to be stored in an area with cool temperatures and extremely low or no humidity at all. Extreme temperature changes have been known to damage artwork. Humidity usually causes chemical reactions in paintings to occur, so it should be avoided at every cost.

In most homes, attics and basements are usually great places to store your paintings. The only problem is that most basements experience high humidity and flooding. Attics aren’t all that great either, as they tend to become sweltering in the summer and bone-cold during the wintery months.

2. So what about your closet?

Storing your paintings at the back of your closet is generally an acceptable idea, but only if you have sufficient space. Garages are also nice storage solutions. The only downside is the concrete floors, which absorb water. If you place your artwork directly on a damp concrete floor, it will absorb the dampness, which will damage your paintings.

The recommended humidity level of galleries is 55%. If you have a hygrometer, you can use it to measure the moisture levels of your attic or basement to determine if it is the right storage space for your loved pieces. Using air blowers in an attic or basement has also been known to improve ventilation and check excess amounts of moisture.

3. Ensure that the storage area is cool, dry, and dark

Make sure that you only store your paintings or artwork in a cool, dry, and dark area where minimal fluctuations in temperature occur. It helps to use blackout curtains to cover any light sources or direct sunlight. One of the primary reasons painting deteriorates is as a result of excessive exposure to the sunlight.

Oil and acrylic paintings tend to be resilient than other types. However, it is still not recommended that you expose them directly to sunlight. The pigmentation in oil paintings tends to lighten in direct sunlight and darken when stored in total darkness. The canvas can also start to deteriorate if it is exposed to the sun.

Watercolor paintings are the most sensitive and usually fade very quickly when proper care is not given. Photos and other paper-based works are also extremely delicate. As such, create a cool, dry environment that does not get direct exposure to the sun and your priceless pieces should be just fine when stored.

4. Consider Solander boxes for smaller pieces

If you want to store away smaller paintings or artwork, you should look into getting a solander box. A solander box is an acid-free book form case that is often used to store old maps, letters, documents, manuscripts, and other valuable artifacts.

5. Go for a storage unit

If you can afford it, the best thing that you can do for the quality and safety of your paintings is to store them in a storage unit. Storage units at most self-storage facilities are usually clean and dry. Better yet, some specialize in storing paintings because they are climate-controlled.

With a climate-controlled self-storage unit, you can stash your paintings and artwork away and not have to worry about severe temperature fluctuations or high humidity causing damage. What’s so great about such storage units is that many are secure with 24/7 managers and video surveillance.

6. Avoid placing your paintings directly on the floor

Aside from concrete floors having the ability to absorb water, floors can also accumulate quite a bit of dust, which is not good for your paintings. Plus, laying your canvas pieces on the floor exposes them to all sorts of vulnerabilities, such as spills and pests. Therefore, your art pieces should always be elevated off the ground.

Creating a simple shelf, riser, or anything that will keep your art off the ground is recommended. If you need to stack your paintings, but yours is a small space, don’t stack the piled up, flat side down. Instead, store your paintings like you would your books on a bookshelf.

7. Store large pieces of artwork or painting in a crate

One cheap and easy way to store your large artworks and canvas prints is to keep them safe in a crate. Most galleries and art dealers have been known to store large pieces in a crate as it is easily the safest way to transport them. A wooden crate is affordable yet tough enough to provide valuable protection from damage. Even if a large object should fall on a crate, it is relatively safe to assume that your paintings will not sustain any damage.

8. Remember to document all your paintings or art before storage

Before you pack up your paintings for storage, make sure that you document everything just in case of damage, theft, or loss. This is especially important whenever you are dealing with expensive or valuable pieces of art. You want to maintain a photo inventory that contains the condition of every work that you want to store away. It is also a good idea to note down any existing damage before stashing your paintings away.

What else should you keep in mind when storing art?

1. Use breathable material

When packing away your artwork or paintings, use tissue paper, foam, or any other breathable material. The breathable material will provide some cushioning, but it will also allow free air circulation while keeping your pieces protected from the elements and bugs.

2. Do not roll your canvas

Some people prefer to roll their canvases and store them in a tube. Although this seems like a good idea, most people roll their canvases incorrectly, which often leads to damage. If you are storing your canvas in a tube, make sure that you roll the canvas with the paint facing out. Otherwise, you risk causing the paint to crack or wrap if you roll it the other way.

3. Back it up

If you plan to store your paintings upright, support the paintings with a backing board or any other sturdy cardboard or piece of wood that you find. This will keep the paintings securely in place and prevent them from slipping.

4. Don’t use bubble wrap

Although it makes sense to use bubble wrap when storing your paints, it is recommended that you don’t. Bubble wrap or plastic wraps are not breathable and they will block air circulation, thus causing condensation that will damage your paintings.

Final thoughts

You may need to store your art for an array of reasons, whether you are moving house, redecorating or you simply want to give your old paintings and artwork a breather.

Storing artwork is something that requires a tremendous amount of care, particularly when dealing with a priceless piece. Not to worry, though. These tips we’ve shared will ensure that you keep your paintings safely secure so that you can continue to enjoy them for years to come.

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