How To Store Your Fine Art
Undoubtedly, masterpieces of art are items of treasure. Artists from hundreds of years ago created their most beautiful works in a time where you and I have not yet been born. Imagine these artworks being preserved to this very day – a solid testament to our human history and various cultures. It is no wonder that fine art is so revered, and priced so highly.
With great value, comes a great need to protect that value and prevent it from dipping. There is a need to keep these treasures in a safe location when they are not on display. Due to their fragile nature, fine art must be kept in an environment tailored for them.
Any art collector will be able to tell you with confidence: it is much easier to protect your fine artwork from dirt and damage than it is to clean it after the damage has been done. (And even then, there are different types of varnish for different types of artwork to be familiar with.)
Because besides theft, fine art and paintings are also susceptible to being deteriorated by natural conditions, like changes in temperature or the cleanliness of a resting place. While keeping your fine art collection at home seems like the most obvious choice, do take note of the following necessary conditions needed to maintain your collection in good shape.
1. Climate Control
The first requirement to safely keep your fine art is a climate and humidity controlled storage space. This is absolutely necessary as paintings are prone to mould and mildew that can cause severe damage. In any regular environment, insects like termites may also emerge from the woodworks and eat away at your precious collections. Damage like this will likely never be able to be reversed, thus draining your efforts at acquiring these collections in the first place.
Being stored in an unsuitable temperature for a prolonged period may cause the paint on your art piece to become brittle, thereby increasing the chance of cracks and peels on the surface. Likewise, being exposed to direct sunlight for an extended period of time will cause the art pieces to gradually lose their colour and turn yellow.
If you want a perfect environment where climate control will not be a problem, then an environment completely tailored towards your fine art needs to be one of the highest priorities. The right temperature, whether or not sunlight should be allowed in, and the level of humidity are all important factors to consider when you are looking to prolong the longevity of your fine art collections. Famous museums that have kept the world’s most incredible paintings stand as testament to this factor.
2. Flat File Storage System
The second requirement is flat file storage. This form of storage system protects your art pieces from coming into contact with each other. You will be able to keep your fine art collections well-organised and in one place, without the danger of them being accidentally damaged or falling on top of one another. Being able to organise and sort your artwork will allow you to easily access them in the future, should you want to move them or simply check on them.
Some art collectors may make the mistake of storing artwork in a packing tube. Yet packing tubes are not optimal storage methods, especially when it comes to fine art. Long term storage in a tube could cause a transfer of paint or even cracks in the painting. Such damage cannot be easily rectified or fixed, and they tend to be long-lasting – which is bad news for your artwork.
Hence, your storage location should allow you to store your fine art in a flat file storage system. Organisation and safety are significant factors to consider.
3. Fine Art Expertise
The third requirement is, without a doubt, fine art expertise. Fine art needs to handled delicately; the older the artwork, the more care needs to be put into preserving it. They also need to be packaged with care and sufficient protection when preparing them for shipping and transportation. Not everyone can claim to know how to treat fine artwork, take care of them, and transport them around without problems arising.
Many things can damage your fine art: humidity, moisture, sunlight, insects like termites, and even acidic pollutants! On top of that, a broken glass frame can also cause severe damage to your masterpieces. Often, once damage has been done, it is difficult to revert your artwork to its original state – hence the belief that preventing damage is better than trying to fix it after.
It is not at all the same as keeping a collection of books in your home, and merely arranging them in the bookshelf. There are many factors to consider, especially since the value of your fine art collection can be sky high, depending on where they come from – and who painted them in the first place.
Wherever your storage location may be, there needs to be someone with the expertise to treat the artwork with adequate care. Having someone handle fine art like regular, run-of-the-mill possessions without caring about the intricacies of such a responsibility might spell trouble for art collectors in the long run.
4. Acid-Free Materials
It should be obvious by now that fine artwork can be extremely fragile or delicate. Everything related to its care needs to be chosen in consideration of this aspect, even when it comes to storing and packing. All materials used to store and pack the art pieces, such as mounting boards and glue should be acid-free.
Materials that are not acid-free could dye the artwork when kept in contact with them over time. Remember: the damage might not happen right now and be immediately obvious, but over time, the effects will become more and more obvious – and even irreversible, if you are not careful. Artwork can absorb even airborne acids, and can become more acidic with age (and turn yellow). This is because acid eats away at the paper’s cellulose, and should be prevented at every turn.
Therefore, it is important to check your storage and packing materials, such as matboards, to make sure they are free of dangerous acids that can ruin the quality and overall look of your fine art collections before committing to them.
Last but not least, you will need security. Your storage location should be armed with round the clock security cameras, alarm system, and electronic monitoring that will alert you to any unauthorised access. Fine art often comes with a hefty price tag, depending on where it originates from and who its original painter was. This also means that thieves may eye your collection if placed in an exposed environment – and yes, that might even include your own home.
It is possible to create your own storage space at home, but do take note: setting up a robust and efficient system on your own to safekeep just a few of your paintings might be more expensive than keeping them in a private vault that specialises in fine art storage.
There are many factors to consider – especially the financial aspect of art protection. Spending more money for a storage system that might not work as well as external storage locations might seem like a complete waste of money in the event that your artwork gets damaged somehow, after all the work you put in.
If you are feeling unsafe about leaving your treasured artworks at home, then it is time to look outward for more secure and reliable options. This is why we recommend external storage locations that can meet your needs and assuage your fears of having your possessions stolen in the dead of night.
In addition, the storage location should be equipped with special non-liquid fire protection to safeguard the art pieces. There should also be heat and smoke sensors in place. This is, of course, in addition to having a tightly-controlled internal environment to ensure your art collections do not suffer from unnecessary acid, humidity, or light damage, and have a longer lease of life (and retain its value).
Keeping your fine art from external threats comes at a cost. As a collector, you can make a choice based on your own needs and tailor your storage environment to suit your fine art collections. Teams behind these storage locations are often dedicated to creating the most suitable solution, and generally offer excellent customer service round the clock.
As someone who owns highly valuable artwork and collections, likely amassed from all over the world, paying for reliability and a peace of mind should be a necessary expense and not a chore. In time, you will be relieved that you did it.
Find out more about Ultra Vault’s Fine Art Storage services in the following locations: