Packing to ship or move anything is risky, but paintings come with their own hazards. If they are framed with
glass, you want to
the glass does
t break and if they are simple canvas pieces, you want to
sure the painting is not torn or pierced. Whether you are moving them or shipping them, paintings require
extra care during the packing process. Pack paintings by collecting boxes that will fit them comfortably and
securely and using bubble wrap, newspaper
s and other packing materials to ensure they are protected during
Try not to use Styrofoam packing "peanuts" when you are packing paintings. They are messy, difficult to
remove from certain surfaces and bad for the environment. Use something that
can be recycled, such as
newspaper or scrap papers.
Take your paintings off the wall and place them on a flat, stable surface.
Make an "X" across the front of the paintings with masking tape if they are framed with glass
protect the paintings an
d keep the glass in place in case it breaks or cracks when the paintings are
Cover the glass or top of the painting with a piece of heavy cardboard
. This could be part of a box that you
are not using. The cardboard should be large enough to cover th
, but not bigger than the entire
board, foam or even loose carpet padding if you do not have any cardboard. The purpose is to
reduce the amount of static cling that can develop between the bubble wrap and the painting.
paintings in a thick layer of bubble wrap
Depending on the shape of the paintings, you can wrap
horizontally or vertically, or both, whichever keeps the paintings more secure.
Secure the edges of the bubble wrap with masking tape, at the back of the pain
tings. The paintings should
feel tightly wrapped and secure once you are done.
Look for boxes that are appropriately sized for your paintings. Most moving and shipping companies sell
mirror and art boxes.
Get boxes that are a bit larger than the paintings
you will be packing. You will need to factor in the room
that bubble wrap and other packing materials might take.
Place paintings one at a time inside the boxes. If there is extra space inside the box, stuff newspaper, rags
or other filling into the box s
o the painting has little room to move.
Gently move the box back and forth to see if the painting can move. If it can, fill the box with more packing
Close the boxes and use packing tape to seal up all the edges.
Write "Fragile" with thick black
marker on the side of the box so the people moving it will know that
something breakable and valuable is inside.
Use a telescopic box if your painting is too large for the average sized boxes that you get from shipping
supply stores or other retailers. Thi
s type of box is actually 2 boxes that fit inside each other. They work
well for paintings that are larger
than 30ins X 36ins (76cm X 91
Fill the spaces between the telescope boxes with wadded newspaper, bubble wrap or other packing
you will need:
Newspaper or packing material
for this Information
From Wiki How)
General Care of Paintings
The first thing that a collector can do to ensure that his or her paintings are in good condition is to examine
them periodically and
carefully. Look for signs of deterioration that may require treatment. If it is a
stretched painting, is the canvas buckled at the corners, split at the tacking edge or looking very brittle on
the turned over edge? If so, the painting may need lining or at
the very least the edges may need lining.
Look for tiny holes, which could possibly mean wood boring insects in the stretcher. If seen, consider
having it stretched on new wood. Are all the keys (wooden wedges) in place? Loose keys can be easily
the front and should be carefully eased out. Replace the missing ones and check the canvas
tension. The painting should be taught, not wavy or buckling. Tapping in the keys to improve tension
should not be done too forcefully. Too much pressure can cause
the painting to split at the turned over
edge. Is the paint layer flaking or losing particles of paint? If so, lay the painting flat in a safe place until it
can be fixed. Is the paint cloudy or opaque looking? The humidity may be too high or the painting
was stored in a very humid environment. Finally, check the hardware. Is the wire cord frayed and are the
brackets and screws securely attached? Can the picture hook hold the weight of the painting? A heavy
picture requires two hooks. I can attest to t
he importance of these issues, having restored many paintings
that have been damaged from falling right off the wall.
When carrying paintings, avoid holding a painting by the top edge of the frame. It is better to lift the
painting from the outer edges or
from underneath. Be careful not to lift an ornate frame by the elaborate
ldings as they can easily break off. Also, standing an ornate frame on the floor will generally result in
ldings. Reattach any broken bits with white glue before they are
lost. In order to prevent
accidental knocks to the
back of a painting, a piece of
(archival backing board) cut to the size of
the painting can be attached to the back of the stretcher. At issue is whether or not to cut holes in the
e securing it to the painting to allow for air circulation.
It is believed
microclimate behind the picture and
Dust and lint can be removed with a soft natural hair brush or soft cloth. A piece of velvet works ver
however do not do this if there are any signs of
loose or flaking paint as they will catch and be pulled off.
Any cleaning should be done by a trained restorer.
Avoid hanging paintings over a fireplace or a heater because of exposure to soot and h
eat. Likewise they
should not be hung directly below air conditioning ducts or in direct sunlight. Glazing the glass or applying
window tint is recommended if need be. Halogen or fluorescent bulbs emit ultraviolet light which can fade
pigments but ordinary
incandescent bulbs are considered safe to use. Overhead spotlights or tracking is a
safer way to light paintings than lights that hook on the top. As the attached lights are turned on and off,
the heat given off can adversely affect the painting by causin
g uneven contraction and expansion.
Expansion and contraction in old and brittle paint may cause cracking or separation from the ground or
preparatory layer. It is best not to hang paintings on un
insulated outer walls because of the danger of
. If need be however, put rubber spacers on the back to prevent moisture from being trapped
behind the picture. Kitchens and bathrooms also are not good environments for paintings because of
smoke and humidity.
When storing paintings, be mindful of the env
ironmental conditions. Attics and basements are not good
because they are excessively dry or damp and lack good air circulation. Concrete floors are terrible for
paintings as dampness is absorbed up from the concrete. When stacking paintings horizontally,
use pads between them and under them. Be careful the wire and hooks from one are not protruding into
another. If many paintings are stored, consider building racks to keep them separated.
Changes in temperature
the humidity and thus the expansion and contraction of a painting on
canvas. As the temperature and humidity climb, a painting will be visibly slack on its stretchers. When the
humidity decreases the canvas begins to tighten and appear more taught as it s
hould be. Generally, this
alternate relaxing and tightening will in time cause the paint to crack and sometimes let go, hence lifting
and flaking particles of paint. In general, gradual temperature changes are not as harmful as severe ones.
ings should be kept at about 65
. The humidity should be generally kept at
, which can be accomplished by setting the air conditioner at no higher than
. When the humidity goes over 70
elop and attack both the front and
back of the painting. In such a case the painting needs to be professionally treated to kill the
Sources for this information
From Tess Everett Murphy
‘Caring for your Paintings’ brochure, American Institute of Conservation (AIC)
Stout, George L. The Care of Pictures Dover Publications, New York, 1975
w To Take Care of Your Pictures, A primer of Practical Information
, Keck, Caroline
Museum of Modern Art and Brooklyn Museum, 1954