May
22
Storing Valuable Artwork: 5 Factors to Consider

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It is said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and this definitely holds true for artwork.  Even those who admire the skill of a painter or the relative value of a piece of art may not see the beauty in the same way as other viewers, or appreciate it enough to purchase a masterpiece and turn it into a priceless family heirloom.

If you happen to be an art lover, chances are you have plenty of pieces that you need to store for later use.  Perhaps you rotate your collection periodically or maybe you collect art as an investment.  Why you have valuable artwork is not as important as the fact that you understand how to properly preserve the value.

Any time you store artwork there is some risk of damage or loss.  Unless you plan to loan it out to museums or galleries, however, you may have little choice but to make arrangements for proper storage in the interim.

If you want to ensure the safety of your precious artwork, there are several factors to consider when selecting an appropriate storage facility.  Here are some items for your checklist.

1. Framed vs Loose

If your artwork came with an original frame, you'll preserve the value best by leaving the entire piece as is.  This, of course, means storing a piece of art made larger, bulkier, and heavier by the frame.

This isn't necessarily a problem.  It just entails using proper packaging materials and finding a storage space large enough to hold your art.  If artwork is loose, on the other hand (not framed), you're not entirely off the hook.

Loose art may seem less problematic to store, but you don't necessarily want to roll it up and put in it a tube like a map or a poster.  This could cause paint to crack or flake, for example.  You're much better off storing artwork flat if you want to preserve it.

In this case your best bet is to find a filing cabinet for map storage so that you have ample space to lay paintings flat (between suitable protective sheets).  Whether your art is framed or loose you can find ways to properly store it.

2. Packaging

There is a science behind preserving artwork and you should speak with professionals (say, at museums or galleries) to ensure that you're doing it right.  Proper packaging for artwork could include acid-free, lignin-free paper, custom crates, or dedicated filing drawers.

What you want to avoid are common mistakes like wrapping paintings in plastic sheeting or cling wrap pieces that can lock in moisture and lead to mold or rot.  You do, however, need to protect artwork (if possible) from potentially dry or dusty conditions.

3. Storage Facility

When choosing a storage facility for art you should base your decisions not solely on cost but also on the features offered.  In truth, many facilities might not be suitable for the delicate items you're planning to store.

In order to preserve artwork to the best of your ability, you'll need climate controls, including temperature and humidity.  You'll also want to find out what kind of security is provided to ensure that priceless artwork doesn't become a target for thieves.

4. Proper Documentation

In case of theft, damage, or other instances of loss, you'll want to make sure you've properly cataloged your art collection.  This means creating and maintaining a paper trail that accounts for every location in which your artwork is stored or displayed.

You should also keep current, time stamped photos of artwork to verify the condition and to act as proof should any damage occur.  Taking these steps is not only important so that you have some measure of recourse should your artwork be damaged, but also for insurance purposes.

Make sure that you fully understand the policies of any storage facility you choose, including liability and warranties, for example, before you sign the contract.

5. Insurance

Any time you're dealing with valuable assets insurance is a must.  Storage facilities go to great lengths to ensure the safety of valuable objects their clients entrust to them, but even they have their limits.

What if a natural disaster like a flood or tornado occurs, destroying your art in the process?  If the facility's insurance can't or won't pay for some reason, you need to have a backup plan in place to recuperate costs, which means insuring your artistic treasures.

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