The Best Ways to Pack Artwork in a Move

June 22, 2020

Storm Clouds is an original acrylic painting by the artist, Dan Dunn

By Chelsea Reed

A new chapter unfolds in your life - you’re moving! This means, of course, that everything defining the unique character of your home is about to move with you… Including your art. If the prospect sounds daunting, fear not. We’ll share with you practical tips from art collectors how to safely transport your treasures to their new home.

“X” Marks the Spot

If the artwork is encased in glass, place masking tape diagonally across the panel in the shape of an X. This helps keep the glass together in case it breaks during transit. 

Mind the Bubble Wrap

His and Hers is an original acrylic painting by artist, Chester MartinBubble wrap is art’s best friend. Be mindful how you use it, though. The bubbles can deflate and become ineffective if they are too small or tight. Get the right bubble size for your packing weight. Dense foam may be better in some cases. 

Protect the Face

Wrap each piece in paper no matter how large or small it is. The paper will help protect the face from puncture or breaking apart. This applies to every kind of art, including canvas wraps, glass frames and miniatures. You can lay a piece of cut-to-fit cardboard over the face before wrapping for added protection. 

Oh, and one other thing - always use packing paper, not newspaper. The inks and acids on newspapers are not very kind to artwork. If your moving budget is tight, ask your local art studio, gift shop or grocery butcher to help you out. Packing paper is also sold at hardware stores for a decent price. It’s worth it to protect your treasured art collection!

Corners Count

After wrapping, you can place cardboard corners on the artpiece if the frame is heavy or valuable. Cardboard corners can be purchased, or you can make them yourself with an online template, a folding knife, and tape. 

Think Inside the Box

The most important thing to remember about packing artwork is to get a box that fits. Think like Goldilocks. Too big, and the art could move around inside and break. Too small, and it could be crushed. A “just right” box is a snug fit around the art with just enough room for padding. 

If a regular box doesn’t fit, you can buy a specialty art box, or make a box yourself. You can also fit several art pieces together if they’re the same size. Pack each piece vertically to maximize protection in transit. A small box or reusable bin is fine for miniature art. Whatever type of box you use, the key is to make sure that the bottom is secure and can handle the weight. Add at least a couple layers of bubble wrap on the bottom before packing. 

“Artful” Marking

Last but not least, it’s a good idea to mark “FRAGILE” on your art boxes so it’s clear and visible. What’s not a good idea is to write “artwork” on the boxes, especially for long distance moves. Obvious identification of the boxes’ contents is an advertisement to shady characters looking for valuables. A simple description of the room and that it’s fragile is enough to get the art safely to its destination. 

Try these tips the next time you move your prized art collection. You can also contact Seaside Art Gallery if you have questions. Are you in love with a piece at Seaside Art Gallery, but aren’t sure how to take it home? Ask the staff about flexible shipping options. There’s always a way to enjoy art, whether near or far.

Chelsea Reed is a copywriter who writes online content, articles, blogs, and websites from her base in North Carolina

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