Storing Artwork

Whether you’re storing valuable canvases or children’s watercolors, all art should be treated with gentle care.

When you’re moving, downsizing or just changing scenery, sometimes you end up storing artwork. People often store artwork that they plan to pull back out later, either to display it someplace new, give it away as a gift,  or sell it. Since individual items are sensitive to wear and tear in unique ways, proper procedures for storing each item should be carefully followed.

So, how do you do that?

According to professional organizer Caroline Guntur, the proper procedures depend on the type of work.

“In my opinion, there are three types or artwork: valuable artwork, filler art, and priceless art,” she explained.

She defines valuable artwork as collectibles.

“They will most likely trade for a large amount of money, and they might even be famous,” Guntur said. “This type of art needs to be stored according to archival guidelines. They represent our cultural heritage, and should be treated as such by a professional.”

This type of artwork should be shelved to protect from water damage and stored vertically, from smallest to largest with foam board or plywood in between each piece. Do not roll the art. This will causes paint cracking and creases. Paintings should be wrapped in air- and water-resistant products and stored at 70 degrees Fahrenheit and 40-50 percent humidity.

Gunter classifies pieces that have no appraised value or sentimental attachment as filler art. These are just pieces of art people enjoy.

“Unframed pieces can be stored flat, or rolled in tubes. Frames pieced should be stored in flat sturdy boxes,” she explained. “Many companies that have archival-quality storage products will have an assortment of boxes, and tubes to choose from, depending on size. Both framed and unframed pieces can be wrapped in archival-quality paper to prevent any damage.”

Priceless art, she explains, includes any type of art that you have a sentimental attachment to, for example, something you painted yourself, or maybe a drawing your kid brought home from school.

“This type of art can be easily scanned and turned into a beautiful photo book that will excite both the artist and his or her admirers,” Guntur said. “Priceless art shouldn’t be stored. It should be displayed. It was meant to be shared with the world and not tucked away in a corner.”

If it absolutely must be stored, Guntur suggests storing kids’ artwork in a custom binder with their name and the current year on it.

“If you are storing your own artwork, why not write the story behind it as well?” Guntur asked. “Your children and future generations will want to know what inspired it. It should be kept archival-safe, of course, either in a binder, a box, or rolled in a tube.”

Melanie Hess

Melanie Hess

Melanie Hess is a writer and public relations specialist based in Dallas, Texas. She has an extensive background in both web and print writing and has successfully completed projects for both small and large business, including nonprofits, real estate, automotive, education and more .Melanie holds industry-related bachelor's and master's degrees. Her interests range from creative storage and moving on a budget to and start-ups and healthcare.
Melanie Hess

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