Why store artwork in a climate controlled storage unit?

November 1, 2018 Self Storage 101 / Types of Storage

In our last blog, we explained the advantages of climate controlled self-storage.  We also provided a list of items that you might want to consider storing in a climate-controlled unit. Now and in future blogs we’re going to discuss in more detail the what’s, why’s, and how’s of what should be stored in this environment.

When storing art, what should I look for in a self-storage facility?

Whether your storing an original Monet, an expensive reproduction, or a Pinterest-inspired DIY, climate-controlled storage is the best idea.  Fragile canvases that are exposed to heat and humidity can tighten, stretch, or slacken; this will eventually cause cracking and flaking of paint.  Humidity levels that are too high can expose artwork to mold and mildew. The unit should have a consistent temperature of 72°F along with a humidity level of 55%.  

There are those that might argue that storage units don’t provide the ideal level of protection for fragile and valuable artwork.  The truth is, however, that with proper care and preparation it is very simple to protect artwork in a storage unit.

The first thing on your to-do list should be to shop around for a reliable, secure storage facility.  You want a location that features the highest level of security technology, along with minimal human traffic around the perimeter of the building.  Look for a more secluded area with little vehicle traffic.

How should I prepare my artwork for self-storage?

  • Framed Art – Framed art should be wrapped in a storage blanket and secured with packing tape.  Avoid using any type of plastic as it does not ensure proper ventilation, which could result in damage. Breathable cloth is always recommended.  You might also want to consider quality cardboard corners to protect the frame. To add a layer of extra protection, enclose the front and back in hardboard padding and tape securely.  
  • Unframed Art – For unframed art, use wrappings made of silicone release paper and glassine paper.  As for framed art, enclose in hardboard padding, and tape securely. The hardboard padding provides an extra measure of support and protection.

How should I position my artwork?

  • To decrease the chance of any possible damage due to pressure, art should always be stored in an upright position.  Avoid placing artwork on the floor as there is a chance that it may absorb dampness.
  • If you’re storing your art pieces for an extended period, they should be removed from their packing for airing on a regular basis.  This prevents any accidental humidity build up, as well as mold and mildew.

Despite taking the most stringent precautions, there is always the chance that your artwork may sustain damage.  Your valuable paintings should be insured. If your art is currently covered under your homeowner’s policy, contact your insurance agent to determine whether the same coverage applies to stored art.

Most reputable self-storage facilities offer special policies for this situation.  Be sure to keep an inventory of your art, take pictures of each item, and obtain a third party appraisal for replacement value.  If you ever need to file a claim, this documentation will be critical.

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