Art storage is a delicate operation. For pieces with market value, you need to store them in a way that retains that value. The instant it’s lost, it’s technically no longer art, or at least on paper in terms of insurance. It’ll still be art, but far from a collectible piece of art.
To prevent your art from becoming technically not art, with no market value, you need to know how to store it in a way that gives maximum protection – inside and outside the frame.
The Best Way to Store Framed Art with Value
(Storing unframed art is covered in the next section)
1) Climate Control
Needless to say, you can’t do this in the loft or in the corner of a garage with a concrete floor. Instead, you need some space in one of your rooms. In a spare room, guest room, or even an active room you use regularly, take measures to control the climate. That’s harder to do in kitchens and bathrooms so those should not be used.
In any other room: Use a Dehumidifier to control humidity.
The two numbers you need are:
• 18-21 Degrees Celsius
• 55% Relative Humidity
Of course, that’s a guideline only. How warm you keep your home isn’t always by choice as cost factors in as well. Plus, you aren’t going to solely heat your home to keep your art in prime condition. It’s to keep you warm primarily, and as a side benefit, you can use that heat to regulate the temperature around the art you’re storing.
The World Health Organisation has these guidelines about temperatures at home.
• 24°C - cardiovascular risk
• 18-21°C - comfortable temperature
• 18°C - minimum for comfort
• 12-16°C - respiratory risk
• <12°C - cardiovascular risk
Therefore, regulate your room temperature to maintain a constant of 18 Degrees Celsius at minimum and no higher than 21 Degrees Celsius. That range is good for your health and protecting your art in the process because of the constant temperature. Fluctuating temperatures are not good for any type of art.
2) Cover the Art
It’s not enough to find a corner that your art will fit in and lean it against the wall. It needs covered to prevent any lingering dust from attaching to it. Use a clean cloth to cover the entire piece.
With the art covered up with a clean sheet of fabric material long enough to cover the entire frame, it’s not finished there. You cannot set it down and forget about it because if you don’t allow the frame to air occasionally, it’s a playground for bacteria, which could lead to mould growth.
Occasionally, remove the cover to allow air to circulate around the frame. Dust it down before covering it up again. Anti-Mould Cloths are ideal as they have an extra element of protection specific to preventing fungus growth.
Another cheaper solution is bubble wrap.
3) Seal the art beneath the cover
Once you’ve got the artwork covered up, seal it up to prevent air and bacteria from getting inside. Any type of tape will do because you’re not putting it in contact with the frame. It’s taping the bubble wrap or cloth covering it to form a tight seal, preventing any bacteria from getting to the art.
For added protection, you could wrap the framed artwork inside bubble wrap and then put the anti-mould cover over it. Just remember that you are still going to need to air it on occasion.
Storing Unframed Art
Since the purpose of the picture frame is primarily for protection, when the art is out the frame, there’s a layer of protection needs added to prevent any damage.
How to Prepare and Store Unframed Art
1) Silicone release paper
Use a sheet of this to cover the front of the artwork.
2) Glassine paper
This is a conservation material that can be used for storing art. With the front covered with silicone release paper, wrap the entire piece with Glassine paper.
3) Sandwich between two sheets of acid-free hardboard
This is to prevent any creasing or bending from occurring, which will cause damage. It gives a level of protection similar to what you’d get with a picture frame, only not as tightly sealed.
Once you have the front of the art protected with silicone release paper, wrapped in glassine paper, then sandwiched between two sheets of acid-free hardboard, you’ll then be able to store your art the same as you would if it was framed.
• In a room with a temperature of 18 – 21 Degrees Celsius
• 55% relative humidity levels
• Covered in either a blanket, anti-mould cloth or bubble wrap
• Sealed with tape to lock the art within the outer material covering it
Following that, you’ll need to repeat the process occasionally as it will need unwrapped to allow air to circulate around the art.