Storage Tips For Your Art Collection

Posted on | March 6, 2012 | 4 Comments

Art is meant to be seen and enjoyed, and the best storage area that most of us have is right there on the walls of our climate-controlled homes. Occasionally, however, it becomes necessary, especially for avid collectors, to store art—either temporarily or long-term. By following a few safety guidelines, you can protect the value and appearance of your collection for many years to come.

Unfortunately, two of the most common storage places in most homes – the attic and basement – are also poor environments for storing valuables. A typical day in the attic consists of dramatic swings of both extreme temperature and humidity. A basement is usually better for temperature, but here the enemy is humidity.

A basement can work well, providing you control the humidity and it remains dry — even in flood conditions. Check the humidity with a humidistat throughout the year. Winters are often quite dry compared to summers, which can be very humid — especially in the southeast. Installing a humidifier and/or dehumidifier will regulate conditions and protect your collection. Portraits Courtesy of Byron Tracy Snyder

Keep your storage area clean and free from pests. Creepy-crawlys such as silverfish, roaches, flies, termites, mice (and more) can wreak havoc on an art collection. Plastic sheeting and storage containers can provide protection against insects, dust and an unexpected water leaks.

Store stretched canvas paintings on their edge. Storing a canvas flat will result in canvas sag. Always protect the painting surface. The best protection from abrasion is the space that a frame will provide. Cardboard liners or plastic sleeves also work well. Never lean anything against a canvas. If you must lean several unframed canvases together, temporarily, be sure to lean them against the corner of the wood frame, not the canvas.

Paper media, such as charcoal, pastel or watercolor renderings, should be protected with a rigid flat substrate. Storing it framed behind glass also works well. If the work is not framed, sandwich it between acid free paper and cardboard or foam core board. Unlike canvas paintings, paper media, if not secured tightly between a rigid substrate, should be stored horizontally. Flat (lateral) file systems work well for this.

Submitted by Byron Tracy Snyder

Byron Tracy Snyder is painter of portraits and landscapes. He works predominately in oil colors, painting commissioned portraits in NC & the Southesast.

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4 Responses to “Storage Tips For Your Art Collection”

  1. Ellen
    March 6th, 2012 @ 1:14 PM

    Excellent article…good advice….same I give to my photography clients…”Cool, Dry, Dark”….always…smiles

  2. Dustin Peck
    March 7th, 2012 @ 7:48 AM

    Light Impressions
    is an excellent source for archival products like neutral ph paper, card board, foam core and storage boxes. These boxes are well made and good looking as well. Great way to store flat art on a shelf in the studio, office or library. They have many matting and framing solutions as well.

  3. Liz Hughes
    March 8th, 2012 @ 12:12 AM

    Thanks Dustin for additional insight into resources available when storing art.

  4. Liz Hughes
    March 8th, 2012 @ 12:15 AM

    It seems that the professionals are all in agreement. Thanks Ellen!

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