Ideally none of us ever want to store art. Art is for being looked at, it should be framed and on display, that’s its purpose. However, sometimes we need to put it away for a little while. Maybe because you don’t have anywhere to display it right now, maybe because you’re holding on to it while you’re waiting to pass it on to someone who can store it. Whatever the reason, storing art is a business that needs to be done carefully. After all, the worst thing in the world would be to finally remove the art from storage and find it wasn’t in the mint condition it was in when you put it away. With that in mind, pay close attention to these crucial tips.
Carrying the Painting
The first thing you need to do when you store your painting is get to the place you’re going to be storing it. This is when it’s at its most vulnerable, so you need to take extra care. Carry only one painting at a time – it’s tempting to save time by moving paintings in stacks, but the accumulated weight can cause damage, and the movement could risk denting or scratching the paint or frames. If you’re moving a large painting, make sure there are at least two of you to do so, and that all of you have clean hands and preferably clean cotton gloves to keep your fingerprints off it. You’ll also want to take off any jewellery or watches, as they have sharp edges that shouldn’t be anywhere near a valuable painting.
When carrying the paintings, lift them with one hand at each side, don’t try lifting them from the top, and try to avoid touching the painted surface.
Finding the Right Storage Space
Where you store your paintings is as important as how you store them. Don’t put them in cellars or attics, which are likely to be either too dry or two damp, both conditions which have ways of messin up paint. You want somewhere with an adequate and consistent temperature, and a dehumidifier if necessary. If you need to store the paintings on top of or against each other, give them plenty of padding, and keep them off any concrete floors which are like sponges for the damp, and will happily leak that into the painting.
If you’re going to be storing paintings for a long time you’ll want to find some acid free paper or board to store them with, and keep them on a flat surface. Make sure the each painting is covered with a clean, dry cloth.
Come back to check on the paintings regularly, once a year you should take them out to give them a good airing and prevent mould and humidity from building up. Keep the temperature as consistent as possible, if temperatures and humidity vary too much the canvas can become slack in the frame at high humidity, and tightened at low humidity. With a lot of change you can end up with flakey and cracked paint, an absolute disaster. Ideally you want 55% humidity, 21 degrees Celsius. Any more than 70% and mould can develop, at which point you need professional help.
Finally, keep them away from sunlight, or the paint can fade.