How to Prepare Your Paintings for a Move

As an aspiring artist or a long-time professional painter, you take great care to ensure each piece looks its best. You deliberate over tempera or oil paints. You thoughtfully choose between fan, angle, or rigger brushes. And you painstakingly select your references so each pose, angle, and shadow comes out the way you envisioned.

When you finally finish the last brush stroke, you can’t help but feel a sense of pride and accomplishment over a job well done. Even if you sell most of your pieces, you likely hang on to a few of your favorites for your personal collection. Your most recent work, for example, might hang in your living room for all your guests to see. Or maybe your first portrait still sits in the corner of your bedroom.

Naturally, you want to preserve your paintings so they last for generations. So what can you do to ensure your gallery survives your next move?


Consider Your Art’s Value

Your art likely carries a great deal of personal value, but how much is it worth from an economic standpoint? If your paintings represent a large portion of your income, you may wish to have an appraiser estimate their value.

Some of the most reliable appraisal organizations include:

On a budget? You can also choose online appraisals such as Mutual Art and Value My Stuff.

Once you know your painting’s value, you can determine whether a specific piece (or pieces) require additional insurance to cover them during transit. For highly priced items, you may wish to ship your art separately from the rest of your household goods through a specialized service. You can also talk to your moving company about their packing policies for fine art. Local Wheaton agents offer a variety of materials for purchase should you choose to pack yourself.

Tips to Pack Unframed Paintings

Unframed paintings require a delicate touch. The oils in your hands could easily attract dirt and smudge your artwork. To protect your painting while your prepare it, wear white cotton photography gloves, and then follow these steps.

  1. Wrap the painting in acid-free tissue paper. Do not use newspaper, as the inks can rub off onto your art. Parchment paper also has rough etches which can pit, scratch, and etch delicate pieces, so avoid it whenever possible.
  2. To secure the tissue paper, place acid-free photo and document tape on the corners. Only tape the tissue paper, not the painting itself.
  3. Mount your wrapped painting to a piece of sturdy cardboard with tape, and cover the other side with cardboard. You may use multiple layers on both sides for extra protection and use tape to keep everything together.
  4. Place the painting in a mirror box.

Once you finish, mark the box as fragile and inform your movers about the art to ensure they store it appropriately.

Tips to Pack Framed Paintings

Although framed paintings have a little more protection than unframed paintings, they can still suffer damage. If not packaged correctly, the canvas can stretch and shift in its frame, or the glass may shatter and tear the art underneath. Use these tips for framed artwork.

  1. As with unframed paintings, wrap the frame in acid-free tissue paper.
  2. Cover the art in bubble wrap. Make sure the corners have adequate coverage; they tend to absorb the most bumps during a move.
  3. Place a layer of cardboard on both sides of the bubble wrap, and secure them with tape.
  4. Insert the artwork into a mirror box or crate that fits the piece. Fill in any gaps with tissue paper to prevent shifting.
  5. Mark the box fragile.

And don’t forget to let your movers know that your pieces require careful handling. With these techniques, your art should arrive in pristine, exhibition-worthy condition.

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One Comment to “How to Prepare Your Paintings for a Move”
  1. Paige

    I would hate for a painting to be ruined during a move, especially if it was valuable to me. Thank you for sharing your advice!

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