How to Move Valuable Artwork

You’re moving and you’ve got a few precious, valuable items. Or maybe you have a lot of them. There’s a good chance that some of these possessions are pieces of art. Whether it’s an investment or truly special artwork to you, you’ll want to take extra care during your move.

Full-service moving companies should know the procedure with artwork, and this is probably an added service that they will offer. But whether they are taking care of it or you would rather have the task in your own trusted hands, you’ll want to know what should be done. If you are using a moving company, make sure you talk to them before the move to understand their methods so they are up to par with your expectations.

So what should you do with an unframed painting? No matter what, you’ll need tape and sheets of cardboard. The rest of the supplies, however, will depend on how much precaution you want to take. Tissue paper or plain newsprint is strongly recommended to cover and protect the surface of your piece. For maximum protection during the move itself, you may want to use hardboard, but at the minimum, get corrugated cardboard.

Follow this procedure for protecting your artwork:

  • Slide a piece of cardboard underneath the painting. Make sure to keep your hands and fingers off of the work and handle the cardboard from here on out.
  • If you have the tissue paper or newspaper (again, recommended), place it over the face of the painting. You may want to tape the paper down on the corners, but make sure it is nowhere near the painting itself.
  • Cover the face of the piece with another sheet of cardboard.
  • Put another sheet or two of cardboard on each side of the painting to create a stronger foundation and to prevent bending of the artwork.
  • Wrap tape around the cardboard pieces to secure them together.
  • Place this contraption between two pieces of corrugated cardboard (or hardwood) and tape all sides together.

Your piece of art should now be ready to go.

If you have framed pieces of artwork, you’ll need strong boxes. Mirror pack boxes are recommended, and your movers will likely be able to provide these for you. You’ll also need tape, bubble wrap and packing peanuts, and you should consider corner protectors as well. Like with unframed art, get hardboard as well for maximum protection.

Here’s how to pack it:

  • If you are using corner protectors, place them on each corner of the piece.
  • Wrap the frame with bubble wrap and make sure all of the corners are covered and tape it tightly.
  • If you’re using hardboard, place the wrapped work between two pieces of board and tape them together.
  • Put packing peanuts in the bottom of your box to create a complete layer of protection.
  • Place your piece on this initial layer and fill the box with more peanuts. Make sure the corners are covered. The tighter the fit in the peanuts, the better.
  • Seal the box shut by taping all edges of the box.

Your framed work is ready to move.

If a moving company or a shipper is moving your artwork, insure the art for its full value. If a company won’t insure it completely, find one that will. If using a shipper, it’s best to shy away from shipping it by ground, as there is more opportunity for potential damage. Now that you know how to protect your art, all you need are best wishes. Good luck!


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