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How to: Properly Store Paintings and Artwork

How to: Properly Store Paintings and Artwork

Storing paintings and artwork requires using safe materials and a good location to protect the art from all potential dangers. Acid-free, dye-free packing materials should be used to encapsulate the art pieces. A good, safe storage area that is secluded from regular traffic is ideal. Short-term and long-term storage of paintings and artwork requires careful planning ahead-of-time.

Dangers to Valuables

There are many dangers to valuable paintings and artwork that lurk around the corner.

Masterpieces can be damaged by any of the following:

  •  Dust
  •  Dye bleed
  •  Heat
  •  Insects
  •  Light
  •  Metal corrosion
  •  Mold & mildew
  •  Moisture
  •  Puncture
  •  Weight

Types of Art

Similar art pieces should be stored together. News clippings are acidic so they should be kept separately. A window mat is best for pastels, graphites and charcoals. For separate art pages, silicone release or wax paper can be used to prevent them from sticking together.

The Solander case has hinges on the side for easy viewing of artwork. Adding and removing pieces is simple with a Solander box. Framed paintings should be stored flat vertically to prevent folds, rips and wrinkles or damage due to weight.

Protective Material

Valuable paintings and artwork should be covered with acid-free, dye-free paper or mat board. There should be a half-inch space so that the protective paper is not in direct contact with the masterpiece. Most paintings have a top layer of varnish, which will stick to anything touching it. Allowing air to circulate around some pieces is recommended.

Protecting the edges from damage is especially important. Either a blanket or bubble wrap can provide a soft cushion to protect against damage. Once again, try not to have these cushioning materials directly touching the art. Hold it all together with packing tape.

Use an outer layer of slatted plywood for more protection.

Clear polyester is best for viewing double-sided art without disturbing the piece. Be careful with modern materials, like polyester film, that promise that they won’t yellow, crack or curl. While they might last for some time, these modern products are untested for years, decades or centuries.

Storage Location

The perfect storage area for artwork is the climate-controlled storage unit free from daily traffic and without any dangers from falling boxes. Potential accidents and artwork deterioration due to normal environmental light, temperature and humidity changes can be avoided in this remote space. Dramatic temperature changes can lead to condensation damaging the art.

Make sure there are no air, heating or water wires or pipes above the storage place. The artwork must be protected from any potential fires or floods. With the ideal storage space, your artwork will last for many years.


Paul Benjamin is a District Manager at EZ Storage, a self storage company that leases storage units in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, St Louis, and Detroit.


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