The Coffee Shop, NYC by Laura Kaardal

Art Collecting is an Investment Worth Protecting

There’s really no comparison between a mutual fund and an oil painting. Unlike a stock portfolio, an art collection is a financial investment that can bring pleasure to its investor on a daily basis, but this pleasure can come at a price. Even the most fastidious art collectors can fall victim to an expensive disaster if proper attention isn’t paid to the art.   

Here are three common art collection pitfalls and ways to avoid them:

1. Light Damage

All light is damaging to art, but some types of light are more devastating than others. Natural light is the most damaging, while incandescent light is the least harmful. Nonetheless, all light damage is cumulative. Over time colors can fade and the art can become brittle.

To Prevent Damage: If you’re displaying art, make sure it’s placed away from any direct light and avoid the length of exposure for any piece. Use heavy curtains in rooms where valuable art is displayed and illuminate the room with incandescent bulbs.

2. Fluctuating Temperatures

Most art is made from organic materials like paper or clay. Organic materials are incredibly sensitive to the elements and will absorb or release moisture in response to their environments, so it’s important to strictly regulate your collection’s surroundings.

To Prevent Damage: When you’re choosing where you want to display art, avoid hanging pieces on exterior walls, or near water sources like bathrooms and kitchens. Invest in a programmable thermostat and maintain a steady temperature of 55 – 65 degrees. If you live in a particularly humid environment, invest in a dehumidifier. Temperature fluctuation can be incredibly damaging to art, so it’s important to keep temperatures steady and avoid dramatic changes in environment.

Situation Pink by Paolo Durandetto

3. Insect Infestations

Silverfish are particularly drawn to paper, but they’re not the only insects that can ruin art. Flies ruining art is so common, in fact, that it’s officially called a “flyspot” if a fly has found its way into a painting.

To Prevent Damage: Always properly frame art and ensure that there are no possible ways an insect could slither into a frame. Check the back of frames periodically to check for any signs of insect infestation. If you’re hanging art, make sure there is not any moisture or water damage on the wall where you’re placing the piece.

What's the bottom line?

Even with protection, damage can happen to art that is out of your control. These small but essential steps will help prevent the most basic exposure to damage. In addition, protect your art collection with regular updates to your inventory, paired with an art insurance policy.

Find more storage best practices and expert tips for preserving your art collection in our free e-book, Essential Guide to Collecting Art.