A longtime lover of art, Jasminka Gabrie is grateful for every day she spends in her gallery surrounded by beauty. She’s been in the art business for 30 years, and she quickly learned how to store paintings to keep up with revolving shows and to make sure her clients receive purchases in pristine condition.
“Art is the heart and soul of the artist,” she said. “It’s created with a lot of love and it’s owned with a lot of love. It’s not like an appliance. You can’t run out and buy another one.”
Gabrie has moved thousands of paintings during her career as owner of Galerie Gabrie and as a personal collector. So if you’re looking to learn how to store paintings, read on for her tried-and-true tips along with suggestions from a professional art handler with nearly two decades experience. These guys will help get your art through a move or long-term storage and avoid damage along the way.
Move and Store Paintings Face-to-Face to Preserve Them
If your art has heavy frames with sharp hooks attached, make sure to face paintings towards each other to elude rips and tears when you move and store them.
“The hooks on the back of artwork can ruin the frames, so we go back-to-back and face to face because it adds protection,” said Gabrie.
You should also carry paintings with the art facing your body, so they do not bump or hit anything that could tear the canvas.
“Always carry a frame by the wire, to carry the art properly,” she said.
It’s also important to move paintings upright, a detail inexperienced movers often neglect, said Antonio Vigil of Cooke’s Crating and Fine Art Transportation.
“Cover art in enough cardboard that they all stand up straight,” the pro art handler said. “If you lean a smaller painting against the inside of a larger painting, the smaller can rip or damage the larger one.”
Choose climate controlled trucks and storage units to keep paintings in good condition between destinations, he added.
Secure Glass Frames Before Long-Term Storage
Broken glass can cause major damage to art, so use tape to secure the potentially-harmful shards and keep them away from paintings.
Vigil, who has moved thousands of paintings during his career, suggests if you don’t have glass tape, painter’s tape works too. Apply it to the glass in the shape of a star for maximum protection.
“In case the glass does break, it won’t fall into the artwork and cause damage,” he said.
For expensive paintings to avoid shattered glass, Gabrie says you can also switch out the glass for acrylic until you’re ready to hang the art once again. Or you can remove frames to maximize long-term storage space. Galleries like hers can help with this.
“If the art is going to be stored for five years or more, it might be better to store it unframed, if the frame is not valuable,” said Gabrie. “Like if you have 10 watercolor paintings and you put the sheets together, you can fit them in one crate instead of packing 10 frames, which can be cumbersome.”
Store Art in Padding and Boxes or Crates
Wrap paintings and artwork to help protect canvases from damage, like water and dust.
Tissue paper, brown paper or bubble wrap are all good choices, but you may want to double up on padding during a move or storage for extra protection.
“Any time a painting is moved from the gallery, it’s wrapped in a quilted blanket or it’s placed in a box so we carry the box instead of the painting itself,” said Gabrie. “When we ship paintings, we build crates and overnight them when possible.”
Pack paintings in moving trucks first before you add other items. Put them against the walls, and strap them down to prevent them from wobbling, said Vigil.
“We use a lot of cardboard and blankets to create a barrier between the artwork,” he said.
If you’re concerned with your packing abilities, contact with your local gallery to see if they will pack up your art to ensure safe travels. Galerie Gabrie is always happy to help customers and newcomers with this service.
“We’re big on being stewards of the paintings,” Gabrie said. “We treat all the art with respect.”