What Are the Best Tips for Shipping Fine Art?

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  • Written By: B. Koch
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Last Modified Date: 23 September 2019
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Shipping fine art can be a complicated task. The work of art must be packaged properly, shipped safely, and protected. In order to make sure a piece arrives at its destination safely, correct packaging materials must be used, and the work must be insured properly. Some choose to hire specialized art handlers and shippers to ensure that their work gets to its destination safely.

It is important that proper packaging materials be used for shipping fine art. While some materials are safe to come into contact with works of art, others are not. White linen and cotton fabric or batting are safe choices as are ropes and ties that are nonabrasive and are not dyed. Some plastics are safe to use, but others can become unstable when subjected to the heat or humidity a piece of work may encounter while being shipped on a long trip.

One example of an unstable plastic that is often used in packaging is bubble wrap. When in direct contact with stained wood in a warm, humid environment, bubble wrap can damage the finish on a piece of art. If bubble wrap or other plastic is used, the object should first be wrapped in a layer or fabric or linen so that the plastic never comes in direct contact with the piece.


In order to ensure that a work of art is packaged in the best way, it is wise to consult an art handler. Art handlers have specific experience in moving, shipping, and transporting art, and they know the best way to package pieces of art to minimize damage during shipping. Most museums and galleries have their own art handlers.

Depending on the distance the piece needs to be moved as well as the size and value of the work, the best method of shipping fine art may be through a specialized art shipping service. These services often provide trucks that are especially equipped to move pieces of art and that are often climate controlled so that the artwork is not adversely affected by changes in temperature or humidity during the trip. These services also provide security, guaranteeing that the artwork will never be left unaccompanied during the trip. They also take great care to monitor the exact location of each package while shipping fine art.

It is not uncommon for artists or curators to insure their work before shipping fine art. Art insurance is available through a number of vendors, some specializing in protecting fine art. If shipping a less expensive item, insurance may instead be available through the shipping company itself.


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Post 3
How do they ship large, strangely shaped pieces of sculpture? I know I have seen some that are very big, obviously cannot come apart and are shaped like tangles of wire. You would need a huge box, filled with packing materials and its own dedicated spot on a plane.

It must be expensive to ship fine art.

Post 2

If you are going to ship fine art it is probably worth it to contact a company who specializes in that kind of thing rather than try to prepare the package yourself. It is tricky to get everything secured properly and art is very fragile. Leave it to the professionals who can guarantee that your art has been properly packaged.

Post 1

It is standard to always take out a comprehensive insurance policy on any piece of art you ship any distance. It is just responsible. The insurance policy should cover the full market value of the piece if it is lost, stolen or damaged under almost any circumstances.

Random things happen all the time and there is no way to prevent accidents. It is the sad but unavoidable truth that great pieces of art have been lost because of shipping disasters. Cover yourself by insuring your art during shipping.

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