Protect your investment and the art you love.
It's a matter both of the heart and the wallet.
You’ve gone from gallery to gallery, pored over your research, and scoured Instagram for “the next big thing” in the art world. You’ve chosen pieces that have not only spoke to you deeply on a personal level but that added value to your collection.
So, what happens when one of these pieces gets damaged? Are you prepared?
Protecting your collection from the start can save you money, stress and preserve the art you love. Take a look at these expert conservation tips every collector should know.
When in doubt, hire an art conservator.
Having a professional art conservator on your team is crucial when it comes to caring for your collection. A conservator's main goal is to stabilize the damage to a piece while retaining as much original material as possible and employing the best quality materials and most carefully considered methods available.
They are skillfully trained in making both visible and invisible repairs depending on your piece’s needs and can fix most poor framing, fire and water damage to your collection.
Conservators can create a condition report recording the damage and the necessary repairs, as well as an estimate.
“Many times people don’t realize they can get their insurance companies to pay for the damage,” Goodman notes. “I’m often hired to write condition reports along with an estimate that’s submitted to an insurance company.” And, some insurance policies will cover a conservator’s cost.
You can learn more about working with an art conservator here. That being said, there are some precautionary measures you can take to protect your collection.
Displaying art at home? Be conscientious.
There are a few things to be conscious of when displaying your collection at home if you want to avoid damaging your pieces.
First, we don’t want anything to come crashing down (and we’ve heard the horror stories), so make sure the hanging mechanism is suitable for the size and weight of your pieces.
Then, avoid any exposure to the elements by hanging art away from any doors, ventilation, or even fireplaces. In the same vein, you’ll want to place art out of direct sunlight. You can protect your art from these rays with either specialty glass in the frames or by installing a translucent protective film on your windows and skylights that block against UV light and heat.
You can find more tips here, like what temperature to keep your home at and how to rotate your art on display.
Finally, don’t skip out on quality solutions when it comes to art storage.
Did you know that wrapping pieces in plastic wrap can inadvertently trap humidity inside and allow mold to grow? That’s why experts typically do not suggest wrapping art for storage.
What else do they suggest?
Turning a closet or small office into an art storage room is an option, but you need to know what to look for when choosing a room in your house. Avoid attics or basements unless they are finished and have climate control. Hot and dry conditions can also be harmful, causing the paper to contract and tear.
And, no air vents or open windows! If there is a vent in your storage space, you can speak to a specialist about creating a deflective device so the air doesn’t blow directly on the artwork. You also want to be thoughtful about dust, mold, and any musty smells that could indicate a bigger problem.
One final thing to avoid is storing your art in a room that has an exterior wall. Ideally, you want to use a room that is completely inside the house. This eliminates the risk of windows bringing in sunlight and weather which can damage and fade artwork.
Find out more important tips for storing your collection here.
Framing can make all the difference.
“The biggest amount of damage I work on is improper framing,” confesses art conservator Laura Goodman.
Framing your art collection is an investment, and you want to choose the right glass to protect it from the elements. Here are the most common options:
Non-Glare Glass and Regular Glass: These are the materials mainly used on frames you will find at the craft and hardware store. These options provide half to zero protection against UV rays.
Plexiglass: A lighter weight glass, plexiglass protects against about 60% of UV rays.
Museum Glass: This is the most effective and recommended way to protect your art. While also the most expensive, it allows less than 1% light reflection and blocks 99% of damaging UV rays.
Strive for acid-free materials.
It’s not uncommon for art to be framed with incorrect tape and acidic board. Improper tapes can cause tearing and other damage. Acidic board and framing materials will cause the work to yellow and darken with age, which will all affect the value of the piece.
“Any framing you have around the artwork should be archival, meaning acid-free papers, mounts, and glues.” - Derek Smith, President of AXIS Fine Art Installation
Want to learn more about the importance of archival materials? Read our article Collector Chatter: Why You Need to Use Acid-Free Paper.
Always have a record your art inventory.
We can’t say it enough: document, document, document!
If a piece from your collection is damaged in the awful scenario of a flood, fire, or poor framing, for example, the documentation you have stored in your Artwork Archive account is the first step to remedying the situation.
Easy access to this documentation is paramount in filing an insurance claim—and you will want to have everything documented and ready ahead of time so you’re not scrambling when tragedy strikes.
Conservation is an art in and of itself.
Maintaining the quality of your carefully sought-out pieces ensures that their value goes otherwise unharmed. Between displaying and storing your art properly and consulting a qualified conservator, your collection will be something to take pride in for years to come.