If there’s anyone who knows how to properly and safely store and display art, it’s a museum or gallery. When it comes to the large museums and galleries around the world, conservation of fine art, antiques and artefacts are what shape the storage and display practices they rely on.
For example, New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art’s guidelines and practices undertaken to preserve art pieces are outlined in the book The Care and Handling of Art Objects.
Here are some of the tips we can learn from museum guidelines when it comes to storing and displaying fine art.
Moving fine art and antique pieces is arguably the riskiest stage in placing art in storage or displaying it. The weight of an art piece or object will determine how many people are needed to move it as well as what equipment and protective materials are needed in the process. When it comes to moving sculptures, the sculpture should be detached from its pedestal, and each part moved separately. Furniture should never be pushed, but instead should be carried to prevent damage to the base of the pieces.
Many of the materials used for storing fine art can actually damage certain items, especially artefacts, as they have different inherent properties. Some materials may cause corrosion, discolouration or deterioration of objects.
The most important factor to consider when storing art or antiques is the lighting, climate and fumigation of a room. Paintings and works on paper are sensitive to direct sunlight, unfiltered florescent lamps and the heat of bulbs. Temperature and relative humidity should also be monitored in gallery and storage areas with the proper equipment. Not monitoring the humidity correctly can result in damage such as mould growth.
While in storage, the materials used to protect, shape or support an object are the first layer of protection against dirt, dust and other harmful influences. Some of the materials museums and galleries use to protect fine art while in storage include:
- Acid free tissue paper
- Melinex sleeves
- Polyethylene (self-sealing) bags
- Tyvek paper
A good practice is to always use protective materials which can be reused when art is taken off display or removed from storage.
Choosing the right materials for displaying and storing your fine art is one of the most important ways you can care for your pieces. The same temperature and climate control required for storage is also important for displaying art.
Books, like art, should also be treated carefully as they are particularly subject to mishandling. Bindings in books are frequently cracked along the spine in an attempt to open them flat for display.
Using safe protective materials and ensuring the conditions in the storage and display rooms are right, damage and deterioration of fine art is prevented.
Fine Art Moving and Storage Specialists
When it comes to keeping your art in the best condition during a relocation or while in storage, it pays to have the experts on your side. Grace Fine Art offer reliable art and antique removal services. Our storage facilities are state-of-the-art and offer the highest level of protection for your fine art pieces. With humidity and climate control storage solutions and a tailored white glove service, you can trust Grace to move and store your art. In addition, Grace are the only Australian member of International Convention of Exhibition and Fine Art Transport (ICEFAT), which means we provide the highest quality service on an international scale. Get in touch with our fine art specialists today.
 Shelley, M. 1987, The Care and Handling of Art Objects: Practices in the Metropolitan Museum of Art
 Museums Galleries Scottland, Advice Sheet: The effects of storage and display materials on museum objects