Moving Artwork | Protecting Your Investment

Packing artwork and mirrors for a move can be a little nerve-racking. Whether you have an original Chagall sketch or an oil on canvas that your grandfather painted, great care must be taken when packaging any artwork for a move. 

1. Tape - Broken glass is the leading cause of damage to artwork during transport. Glass is fragile and can break due to sudden movement, being dropped, or being crushed. The key is to be prepared for this to happen by placing an 'x' across the surface of the glass with packaging tape. If the glass breaks, it will stay in place as opposed to broken shards cutting the valuable art below. Glass can be replaced inexpensively, but what it was intended to protect is often irreplaceable. 

2. Cardboard -  Another way to protect your art is to sandwich it between layers of cardboard or foam board. This creates a solid surface before transporting which is especially helpful with any painting on canvas. Loose objects during a move can become projectiles that can pierce soft wrappings and dent or rip the canvas. While this can be repaired by an archival specialist, it is an expensive process. 

3. Stand Upright - Artwork and mirrors must be both stored and transported upright. First, and foremost, this prevents a heavier object from being placed on framed pieces, causing the glass to break. A lesser known reason deals with the archival framing process itself. Original sketches and limited edition artwork are often hung from the matting with archival, linen tape. The acid-free tape is used for mounting valuable items because it leaves zero adhesive residue, which maintains the integrity of the artwork. It is also meant to 'break free' if the artwork ever falls. This is so it can move with the glass as opposed to being cut by broken glass, as formerly mentioned. Storing artwork upside-down can cause the hinge to fail.

4. Bubble or Foam Wrap - Padding should also be used around artwork to protect the frame. Intricately carved gold leaf framing breaks easily and shiny, lacquered frames can scratch without proper protection. While the artwork is the valuable item, custom framing can be expensive and, if original, can add to the value. 

5. Specialty Boxes - Many moving companies can supply specialty, foam-lined boxes designed expressly for packing and safely transporting art. While expensive, they can be re-used in future moves, or sold online to other families planning a move. 

6. Storage - When standing frames upright for moving or storage, be sure to have them face each other front to front and back to back. This protects each frame from the hanging hardware of the frame directly in front of it. Hanging hardware and the screws that secure them can gouge frames made of soft wood, gold leaf, and lacquer. 

7. Corner Protection - Never set a framed piece of art -- valuable or sentimental -- on its corner, even for a moment. Not only would this action cause the glass to break, but it would also damage the structural integrity of the frame itself. In fact, when a frame needs to be broken down and re-built, this is exactly how custom framers do it. Frames are both glued and nailed together. The downward pressure on the corners breaks the glue seal and then the nails can follow smoothly, without doing damage to the frame.

8. Insurance - Before packing and moving any artwork, check with your insurance agent to make sure your policy is up-to-date. Document each piece with photographs and keep all the certificate of authenticity in a different location during the move. 

Talk to local moving companies for more tips of moving your artwork.