Art is made to be displayed, but it can’t always be hanging on the walls. It may sometimes be necessary to put your art into storage. The good news is that by taking appropriate steps, your artwork can come out looking as good as when it went in.
Choosing the right unit
Potentially the most important thing to get right is the choice of storage unit itself. Not all self-storage units are appropriate for keeping delicate items like art in. The key thing to look for is a climate controlled unit. Intense fluctuations in heat, light, or moisture will damage art over a long period. Climate control keeps the temperature stable between 15-25°C while controlling the humidity of the environment. While these units are usually more expensive than normal self-storage units, it’s a worthwhile investment if you’re planning to store valuable art or store art for a long period.
The exact cleaning process is going to depend heavily on what type of art you have, but all pieces should be in pristine condition when they go into storage to avoid damage or discolouration. At a minimum, the items should be dust free when they go into storage. Leather and wood should be treated with an appropriate conditioner or polish and everything should be wiped down.
Once everything is clean, and before you pack it, it is worth creating an inventory of all the items you are storing. Take pictures of everything from all angles, and note any features. This will help you in the unlikely event your artwork is damaged or lost in storage. This is obviously more important the more valuable your art is.
Once clean, items should be prepared correctly for storage. Again, how this is done depends on the artwork itself. Paintings should be wrapped up. Plastic is a common material for this, but avoid it if possible. The lack of breathability will allow moisture to build up inside and damage the art. Similarly, newspaper can stain the artwork. The best cover is a heavy, breathable cloth which will provide some protection without causing staining or a build-up of moisture. Photographs should be kept in an airtight container which blocks any light.
Once an initial wrapping has been put on, an extra layer of protection can be provided by placing the artwork in boxes. The best option is a box specially designed for artwork, which will provide a better fit than repurposing an old box.
Once the items are wrapped and packed, arrange them in the unit in a way which will minimise the chance of anything happening to them. Most pieces of art should be stored upright, rather than stacked on the floor, to avoid any pressure on the canvas. Place the largest items towards the back of the unit, with smaller items in front.
Statues and sculptures should also be stored upright, not on their side or leaning on anything. Make sure each piece has space so nothing is likely to fall on it.
Ensure your art is insured when stored in a self storage unit. Your current home insurance, for example, may not cover items when away from home. You will most likely need a special insurance policy to cover items in self storage - Store Insure can help with this, so check out our instant Storage Insurance quote and cover online.