Artwork is meant to be seen and enjoyed. But if you don’t have enough room for all your paintings and drawings, or are moving and need to keep your art packed temporarily, proper storage is essential. Whether you are an artist, a collector, or simply have a few paintings you love, here are some storage tips to keep in mind so that your artwork will remain as beautiful as the day you put it away.
- Do not store in a basement, garage, or attic – Many people have extra space in their basement, garage, or attic, so these are logical places people think to store their artwork. But these locations are also known for having high humidity and temperature fluctuations –the enemy of artwork. Too much humidity can cause a canvas and wood frame to swell, while air that is too dry can cause them to tighten and shrink.
- Control the climate – Store your artwork in an environment that has consistent levels of humidity and temperature. On average, the ideal storage for most types of artwork is a steady 50% relative humidity and 70 degrees. If the area you are going to store your artwork cannot maintain these levels, you may want to consider putting your artwork in a climate controlled storage facility. There are special self-storage facilities available like UOVO that are designed specifically for the preservation of artwork.
- Store framed paintings vertically – Pressure can damage paintings so it is important to store paintings vertically, like you would books on a bookshelf. Be sure that smaller frames and any protruding hanging screws are not leaning into larger canvases, as this can cause distortion. You can also place the artwork back to back with cardboard in between each work.
- Store prints & posters flat – Avoid keeping prints and posters rolled up. This can cause folds, wrinkles, and other types of damage. It is best to store them flat in a drawer located away from natural light.
- Wrap them up – For long-term art storage, consider wrapping your artwork with archival wrap or tissue. You can wrap framed artwork with archival polyethylene plastic. This type of wrap resists water vapor and chemicals. If you have unframed artwork on paper, use acid-free tissue paper to separate each work. Some people try to wrap their artwork with kitchen plastic wrap. This is not recommended because the plastic can negatively affect the art’s pigments and dyes.
- Watch the light – UV light can cause color discoloration so it is best to keep artwork out of direct sunlight.
- Elevate – Don’t place your artwork on the floor. Place them on a raised shelf or pallet. This will help maintain appropriate airflow and help prevent mold and mildew. Concrete floors can be especially damaging because the dampness can seep through the floor.
Once you’ve stored your artwork it is important to remember to check on it periodically to make sure that it is not being damaged. A little preparation now and maintenance later can help you preserve your artwork for years to come!