As situations in your life change – be it a move, renovation or simply a change in taste – you may no longer have a need for some of your displayed artwork. Rather than tossing it away or stacking it in a closet unprotected, the proper packing of artwork protects and preserves it for future use.
Cleaning prior to storage
Prior to packing away any artwork, a careful cleaning goes a long way to protect it. With a clean microfiber cloth, remove the dust from all surfaces, paying particular attention to any paint or fabric components. Clean any hardware accents or frames as well. Wipe metal objects with a little oil to avoid rust formation. A quality polish sprayed on wood frames and components offers added protection.
To protect the frame and integrity of the structure, add cardboard corners over the edges of the frame taped in place. A covering, such as a blanket, bubble wrap or felt, wrapped and secured with tape provides extra protection. To create a shield against water or moisture, place the wrapped artwork in a plastic bag that you tie close before final boxing. You can find boxes specifically made for packing larger paintings at most packing supply stores. When packing the artwork – stand them on end – do not lay the items flat or stacked atop one another, because the frames can collapse under their own weight.
Resist the urge to roll up unframed artwork, because this makes creases in the material and cracking of the paint. Instead, carefully wrap the artwork in glassine – an air and water resistant product. Position the wrapped artwork between two pieces of a sturdy material slightly larger than the artwork itself, such as foam board, cardboard or plywood, and secure it with tape. As with the framed artwork, you can create an added layer of water resistance by placing the artwork in a plastic bag and tying it securely prior to packing it away in a sturdy, appropriately sized box.
An important factor in storing your artwork is the temperature of the unit or location where you plan to store the items. Take the area’s relative humidity and the artwork’s potential exposure to moisture into consideration. Fluctuations in temperature can cause expansion and contraction of materials, which may lead to warping, fading of dyes, yellowing of paper or even mold growth. Maintain a 70-degree Fahrenheit temperature for best results when storing artwork. Windowless storage areas make an ideal storage location, because materials degrade more quickly when exposed to light.