Three Tips For Protecting Your Fine Art Collection

 Image Courtesy of Lowy.

Image Courtesy of Lowy.

If you are a new art collector you are probably wondering how to keep your paintings and sculptures looking their best and how to ensure their longevity. Even though conservation and restoration treatments require the advice and services of a professional conservator, fortunately, as an art collector you can be pro-active. By providing preventive care you can protect the artworks in your collection from physical damage. In this post we’ll show you three ways to keep your artworks in the best possible condition, avoid accidents and minimize conservation requirements.

1 Climate control for artwork

Ensure the long-term health of your art by ensuring its environment is balanced. In other words, keep fluctuations in relative humidity and temperature to a minimum. Extreme changes in temperature and humidity damage paintings, works on paper and other works of art by causing paint to flake or crack or an object to grow mold. Similarly, don’t store works of art in an attic or a basement, as these rooms may not have stable environments. Keep art away from external walls (more on that below), avoid stacking paintings and cover artworks with a breathable cloth.

2 Protect your paintings and drawings from direct light

One of the worst things you can do to your treasured artworks is to hang them in direct sunlight. Works on paper are particularly vulnerable as they are so fragile. You can protect works on paper by framing them with an ultraviolet filtering glass or Plexiglas. This can help protect them from harmful ultraviolet lights that cause fading and yellowing.

Protective film can also be applied to windows. Manufacturers recommend replacing these products every fifteen years. Even if you have taken the precaution of covering windows with an ultraviolet filtering coating or with light-diffusing shades, exposure to direct sunlight is still harmful. Exposure to constant high levels of indoor lighting, too, can cause serious deterioration so consider that before hanging your art.

3 Hang and frame your picture correctly

It’s better to have your paintings hung by a reputable picture hanger rather than tackle the job yourself - particularly if the painting and frame are heavy. Before having the work hung on your wall, make sure to check the wire on a newly purchased painting: the piece may be fit with screw eyes that have loosened over time which could be an accident waiting to happen.

In order to avoid environmental damage, hang your art on interior walls, which are less susceptible to changes in temperature and humidity than exterior walls. It’s also preferable to not hang works of art near an air conditioning vent, a humidifier or a working fireplace. Similarly, open windows, bathroom humidity and kitchen grease can all lead to condition issues.

Works on paper in your collection should be mounted with acid-free materials to prevent chemical damage. If you notice a discoloration on a work on paper just under the edge of the mat, then it may indicate an acidic mat that should be replaced.

Many thanks to Lowy for letting us post this helpful information!