How to Store Your Artwork Like an Expert
May 5, 2020
While most artists would want their pieces to end up taking a share of that $64 billion art market, the reality is that they may end up selling only a few paintings — with the majority of their work having to go into storage for a few weeks, months or even years.
Some pieces may not be good enough to capture the eyes of art enthusiasts, while others have so much sentimental value attached to them that you choose to hold on to them forever. However, if you want to maintain the quality and value of your artworks, dumping them in a closet, storage unit, or corners of your studio just won't cut it. Whether it's your child's crayon doodles that always give you a warm feeling in your heart or it's a masterpiece you've worked on for years, art needs to be stored in a certain way to ensure that the paint, frame, and canvas aren't damaged.
Preparing Your Art for Storage
Depending on the size of your artwork, type of paint, and whether or not it is framed, there are various things you must do to prepare it for storage. Before you touch any art, make sure that you're wearing latex gloves to prevent damaging hypersensitive art materials if you touch them during the process. The next step is using a dry microfiber cloth to gently remove dust from all surfaces with particular attention to any fabric or paint components.
If your art is framed, wrap acid-free tissue around it to protect it while giving it breathing room and roll it into a bubble wrap or felt padding to protect the frame. If your art is unframed, carefully wrap it in glassine and position it between two pieces of foam board, plywood or cardboard that are slightly larger than the artwork, and secure it with tape. Place each wrapped artwork into a sturdy, appropriately sized box.
Choosing an Ideal Storage Location
Art requires special conditions to maintain its quality, and not just any room will do. First of all, the room should be as dark as possible; light can cause all kinds of damage to your art, so choose a windowless room like a study, the basement, or attic.
Once you have an ideal location, you must ensure that it stays at a constant temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit and humidity of 50 percent. Fluctuations in temperature and humidity can cause changes in the size and shape of your artwork, yellowing of paper, fading of dyes, and the growth of mold. If you are storing your art at home, you'll need a humidifier and thermostat to keep the temperature and humidity at ideal levels. If not, look for temperature-controlled storage units in your area or ask an art gallery near you for recommended storage services.
Moving Your Art into Storage
After finding an ideal location and preparing your art for storage, the final step is moving your art into the storage unit. When doing so, handle your art carefully and try moving slowly, handling only one piece at a time. Even when properly wrapped, you don't want your artwork touching the floor of the storage room. Instead, elevate your pieces on racks or risers. To avoid putting too much pressure on your artworks, stand them on their sides like books on a bookshelf instead of stacking them flat on top of each other. Don't forget to label and keep records of each stored piece. And if in doubt, leave it to the pros like Cargo Cabbie.
All artwork, loose or framed, must be kept in a safe environment free from dust, insects, air pollutants, sunlight, and mold. But, even when you've stored it in a perfect environment, it's important to check on your stored artwork periodically to ensure that it's performing well and to catch problems or subtle changes early.
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Author: Katlyn Bennett