Preserving Art Collections: Tips on Preserving Art In Your Home

POBA has formed a unique partnership with the Appraisers Association of America, which has given POBA some special tips for you to consider in preserving art collections at home.

While art collections are meant to be seen and enjoyed, many collectors and families don’t have the space in general, or the proper space for display, and many are all too aware of the potential for physical damage. It is essential for the long life and value of any artwork or collection to take care of it so it can be both enjoyed and preserved.

Here are 10 Tips from the Appraisers Association of America, POBA’s partner in providing expert guidance, to help protect your art and your collections at home.

Tips on Preserving Art Collections

  • Shield your collection from direct sunlight and strong lighting. Consider installing UV-filters on your windows to limit exposure to direct sunlight.
  • Never store items directly on the floor, even temporarily, unless the item is meant to stand on the floor (e.g., a sculpture).
  • Maintain a steady temperature and humidity in rooms containing valuable works. A temperature of 72 degrees and a relative humidity of 45–55% are recommended for general collections. For specific materials, such as pastels and metals, consult a conservator, and of course see other POBA Tips, here.
  • Avoid placing unprotected artwork directly above a working fireplace or beneath active air ducts.
  • Use a professional art handler to install important artwork.
  • Avoid placing artwork in high-traffic areas, and ask a conservator how best to protect work from accidents of daily life – scratching, toppling, knicking, etc.
  • Install smoke detectors in every room that contains valuable art work.
  • Add moisture alert sensors in basements, in areas adjacent to radiators and other potential sources of flooding, or if you live in high humidity areas.
  • Properly outfit and secure storage spaces for holding art works with shelving to separate each object and with locking doors.
  • Use only archival-quality materials to protect important artwork, and consult an art handler about which kind of protective materials are best for your collection.

(adapted from: The Expert’s Guide to Collecting, 2013 written to guide the public as they buy, sell, insure and maintain artworks and collectables. © 2013 Appraisers Association of America)

Following these general tips can help you with preserving art collections, and allow you to avoid the kinds of surprises and challenges that are an obvious source of worry. Artists and art collectors alike learned from Hurricane Sandy that it takes more than putting works in a dry room to preserve them for value, for history, and for enjoyment. While natural disasters are blessedly rare, they are instructive for even more typical situations where damage can happen through daily activity – improper installation, poor control of light, temperature and humidity, during shipping, and, of course, inadequate storage practices.   Applying these tips for the art works that mean the most to you will help to keep them safe and sound and allow you to enjoy them most easily and often.  POBA also suggests:

  • Ask POBA.  Handling an artist’s works or an inherited collection can be a big task. Each collection is different and benefits from good guidance and proper care.   POBA makes it as easy as possible.  Contact us through POBA Concierge if you need help with online and physical storage, archiving, cataloging, and more to preserve, protect, and promote an artist’s work or legacy.

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Find more Tips from estate lawyers, gallerists, archivists, and other POBA experts. Check back often for updates, too!

Contact the POBA Concierge if you need help with online and physical storage, archiving, cataloging, appraising and more to preserve, protect, and promote a creative legacy or collection.

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