Caring for Your Art Collection


Experts discuss best practices and why caring for your artwork matters.

As an art collector, it's important to know how to properly care for your collection. This includes protecting your artworks, valuing them correctly and maintaining them over time. But finding the right specialists and knowing the right questions to ask in each stage of the ownership process can be difficult. Here are some tips before we join our art experts Tom O'Connor, Susan McDonough and Rowan Geiger on how to best care for your art collection.

How to Protect Your Art Collection

Get insurance: Insurance will protect your artworks in the event of theft, damage or other loss. Make sure you get a policy that covers the full value of your collection.

Store your art properly: storing your art in a cool, dry place will help preserve it over time. If you live in an area with high humidity, consider investing in a dehumidifier for your storage space. You should also avoid storing works of art near sources of heat or light, as this can damage them.

Display your art carefully: if you choose to display works from your collection, make sure they're hung securely and out of reach of small children or pets. Avoid placing artwork near windows or other sources of direct sunlight, as this can fade the colors over time. Dust regularly and use only gentle cleaning products on your artwork.

How to Value Your Art Collection

It's important to have a good understanding of the value of your art collection so that you can insure it properly and make informed decisions about selling or donating pieces. The value of a work of art can be determined by several factors, including its age, condition, provenance (the history of ownership) and market demand. An appraiser can provide you with an accurate estimate of the value of your collection.

You can also research recent auction prices for similar works of art to get an idea of what they might be worth on the open market. However, it's important to keep in mind that auction prices are not always indicative of true market value, as they can be influenced by a number factors, including the prestige of the auction house and the desirability of the piece among collectors.

How to Maintain Your Art Collection

Once you have taken steps to protect and value your collection, you'll need to maintain it over time so that it retains its quality and value. Regularly inspect each piece for signs of damage, such as cracks, chips or mold growth. Dust regularly and clean gently with a soft cloth dampened with distilled water. Avoid using cleaning products on any part of the artwork unless directed to do so by a professional conservator. If you plan on moving any pieces from one location to another, hire professional art handlers to do so.

Panel Discussion with Tom O'Connor, Susan McDonough and Rowan Geiger

Join Tom O’Conner, of O’Conner & Associates Art Advisors, Susan McDonough of McDonough Fine Art Appraisals, LLC, and Rowan Geiger, Director and Principal Conservator of SF Art Conservation, for a moderated panel discussion on knowing what to ask before you buy; doing due diligence regarding authenticity, title, condition, and acquisition price; working with conservators and protecting your collection against physical risk; and managing your collection as a long-term asset.

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Tom O'Connor

Tom O’Connor has been an art advisor for over twenty five years. In that time he has helped hundreds of corporations and individuals to acquire unique and interesting art collections. He is adept at addressing large scale and campus wide projects. Tom specializes in sourcing and commissioning monumental paintings, sculpture and artwork in other media. Originally from New York, Tom returns...

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Rowan Geiger

Rowan Geiger, the Director and Principal Conservator of SF Art Conservation, holds a Masters degree in Art Conservation from the Royal College of Art, London. In addition to three years in studio training at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, she has held staff positions at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Asian Art Museum, San Francisco; Stanford...

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Susan McDonough

Susan McDonough, AAA, is the owner of McDonough Fine Art Appraisals, LLC, which provides appraisal and research services for fine art. She is a certified appraiser and a member of the Board of Directors of the Appraisers Association of America. Prior to establishing her own practice, she was the Director of Publications and Press Relations at Hackett-Freedman Gallery in San Francisco. She has...

Meet the Expert