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What Are the Best Tips for Fine Art Storage?

Paintings should be stored in a frame whenever possible.
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  • Written By: N. Swensson
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 03 October 2014
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Improper fine art storage can ruin a collection and erase its potential value, so it is important for both private collectors as well as museums and galleries to protect their pieces. Storage facilities for paintings and other collectibles should have the proper temperature and humidity, and framed art should be protected as much as possible. Individual cabinets and other containers should adequately shield prints from light, heat, and environmental pollutants, all of which can destroy fine art. If a collection is being placed in long-term storage or moved, it must be kept secure and protected from potential damage during transport. Private companies exist that specialize in fine art storage and house collections in their own facilities or provide consultations to help a collector equip his or her space properly.

Temperature and humidity are two of the most important elements that can affect the quality of paintings and other fine art. Paper and canvas are susceptible to mold and mildew, which need warm, moist environments in order to grow. On the other hand, dry air can also damage paintings, which should not be stored or displayed near heating vents or in rooms with very low humidity levels. These factors also need to be considered when choosing a long-term storage facility, which should always be climate controlled and kept at an optimal temperature for fine art storage.

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Paintings can lose their value if they are framed, because framing exposes them to light, heat, and moisture, which can cause fading and degradation of the materials. The best way to prevent this type of damage is to store paintings in acid-free paper folders inside of metal cabinets. Each print should be stored flat and not be touching another one. As many collectors prefer to display their pieces, however, protective framing materials are also available. An acid-free mat should be used to avoid contact between the painting and the glass. The glass should also have an ultraviolet light filter applied to it. Some experts recommend leaving prints on display for a few months at a time and then rotating them with others to help preserve them.

Long-term fine art storage should be properly climate controlled. It should also have security cameras or other measures that protect the collection from theft or vandalism. If paintings are being moved, it is best to wrap them flat, because rolling them can cause the paint to crack or peel. Large pieces that must be rolled and shipped in tubes should be removed from the packaging and flattened as soon as possible after reaching their destinations. There are private companies available that specialize in moving and storage of fine art and that can provide these services to many clients, including private or corporate collectors, galleries, and museums.

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