9 Things to Know for Storing Your Artworks in the Right Way

Artwork Archive | July 31, 2020

Photo by Jean-Philippe Delberghe on Unsplash


Megan Jones is an author who works at aerindustries.com. She mostly writes about camping, interior and exterior maintenance, healthy living, and related topics. Having a huge experience in renovating and remodeling, Megan has gained some valuable knowledge, which she is now actively promoting.

If there’s one thing that we art lovers know, it’s this: art is priceless.

It doesn’t matter how much you got a piece for, but it was made with love. It is one-of-a-kind. And as such, it’s not like an appliance that you can simply go out to buy a new one should it get damaged.

Hence, knowing how to store your art in the right way is crucial to care for your pieces especially when you’re required to store them while you’re moving or redecorating your space. This knowledge is also essential if you’re thinking of rotating the display of your pieces. After all, hanging a painting for display for an extended period is detrimental for the piece as it can cause fading and cracking.


Avoid Direct Sunlight

One of the main reasons why paintings deteriorate from being displayed is its exposure to light, especially direct sunlight. That’s due to the chemical reaction of most painting mediums to ultraviolet radiation.

Oil and acrylics can be pretty resilient with minimal exposure, but it’s still not worth the gamble. The colors in an oil painting ten to lighten in the sunlight and darken when stored in complete darkness. Some research currently even suggests minimal exposure to sunlight over time. Canvas can also get damaged too, so any work with an exposed area of the canvas should not be displayed where sunlight can get to it.

Watercolor is the most sensitive and can fade fast if you’re not careful. So are photos and other works on paper even if they are encased under a UV plexiglass.


Pay Attention to Humidity

Another factor that can cause a chemical reaction to your paintings is humidity. The ideal humidity level for a gallery is 55%. Using a hygrometer to measure the inherent moisture inside an enclosed space is highly recommended.

The use of other equipment such as air blowers that can improve ventilation and help control excessive moisture is also suggested.


Store Art in a Cool, Dry, Dark Place

Concerning the previous tips, the ideal place to store your art in is a cool, dry, and dark place where minimal temperature fluctuations happen. Using a pedestal fan can significantly help in cooling down an otherwise hot and humid room if you don’t have a better option.

Using blackout curtains to cover windows and other sources of light are also recommended.


Don’t Clean Your Paintings

Because paintings are highly sensitive to moisture, there is no way to clean them with water and soap, no matter how gentle your chosen cleaning solution is. In fact, it is highly discouraged to touch the surface of your painting if you can avoid it.

The best thing that you can do to clean a dusty painting is to use a soft duster instead, with gentle and careful strokes to avoid chipping off any cracked paint flakes. You can also take your piece to a professional restorer if needed.


Consider a Solander Box

For smaller pieces, you can consider investing in a solander box. It is an acid-free book-form case that is typically used by conservationists to store old manuscripts, maps, and other valuable pieces of art and documents.


Keep Your Glass or Acrylics Squeaky Clean

It is strongly suggested to dust glass and acrylic cases regularly so that they don’t accumulate dirt and grime. If it simply can’t be avoided, though, you can use a gentle glass cleaner with a soft microfiber cloth. Make sure that the moisture won’t get inside the frame as well, for pieces that can’t be disassembled from their frames anymore.


Keep Your Stored Artwork Separated

Storing multiple unframed pieces flat to save storage space? No problem. Just make sure to use a conservation matboard that is at least two inches bigger on each side than your works in between each piece to avoid unwanted chemical reactions, acidic damage, and creasing.

Photo by Jean-Philippe Delberghe on Unsplash

Don’t Leave Your Art in a Tube

As such, it is not recommended to store your paintings rolled inside a tube as it can cause cracking and permanent creasing later on. Storing your pieces flat is always the best way to go if you’re not going to frame and hang them yet.


Watch Your Hands

Here’s another element that can cause a chemical reaction to your paintings: natural oil.

This is the reason why one should always wear cotton gloves when handling art pieces. This will also prevent you from leaving fingerprints on works that haven’t fully dried up yet, or worse, accidentally scratching something off with your fingernails.


And that’s it!

By keeping the tips that we have shared with you in mind, we’re confident that you will be able to preserve the pristine condition of the collection you’ve invested so much on for a very long time. Remember, art is a good investment that can significantly grow in value over time. It can also touch your lives and the others who have been privileged to view it, so care for them as much as you can and never take art ownership for granted.


Another great way to protect the value of your artwork? Document everything.

By using an inventory system like Artwork Archive to track the important aspects of your art collection, you can relax and enjoy your art—secure in the knowledge that all the important information you need goes wherever you do.

Artwork Archive's premier art collection software provides easy-to-use tools to help you digitize, organize and safeguard your artwork online.

Record all the relevant details of your art collection including acquisition details, provenance, location information, conditions and more … all in an elegant, modern-day interface.

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