Checklist for Protecting Fine Art When Moving


Packing and protecting fine art in preparation for moving requires special care to avoid damage during transport. Older pieces that may have ornate frames as well as prints and photographs mounted behind glass need an added layer of protection. Here are some helpful pointers and suggestions for making sure that your works of art are properly packed within secure shipping boxes or crates for the trip to your new home.

Shipping Fine Art: Should You Pack it Yourself or Hire a Professional Service?

Before you venture forward and start packing your paintings and other pieces of fine art, you need to ask yourself if this is a task that you can undertake or whether you should hire a professional. What is the value of the artwork that needs to be moved and is it currently insured against theft, loss, and or damage? If you own museum quality pieces or older antique artwork, would you feel comfortable preparing them for transport yourself, or would hiring a professional mover or shipping service be the better option? If you do not own works of art such as a Monet, Renoir, or Degas and enjoy do-it-yourself projects, read on for some great tips for protecting your art when moving.

Use the Right Packing Materials to Avoid Damage to Fragile Artwork

Proper packing materials to be used for protecting fine art when moving include: acid-free packing paper for original paintings and prints, gloves, bubble wrap, and foam corners to cushion each piece. Use heavy, sturdy moving boxes or crates to cushion your artwork during shipping and transport. Painter’s tape strategically placed on the glass inserts of framed art will keep it intact and prevent it from breaking into small pieces if it should get damaged during the move. Staples, Home Depot, and Lowes all offer a great variety of packing and shipping materials to help you prepare for moving.

Step-by-Step List for Safely Transporting Your Fine Art

Once you get organized and have all the necessary materials and shipping boxes to protect your artwork, the next step is to systematically go through the process of carefully packing each painting, photograph or print. Follow this step-by-step list to ensure that your cherished works of fine art will safely make the trip to your new home.

  • Choose a clean, dust-free area in which to pack and prepare your artwork for transport.
  • As you pack each piece, make sure you keep track of the artwork to be transported by writing an inventory list that includes descriptions of individual pieces and their estimated values if they are insured.
  • Use painter’s tape to protect pieces of art that have glass inserts within the frame. Painter’s tape holds well to the surface while being easy to remove at the same time. Place the tape across the glass insert in multiple pieces, such as in the form of an “x”.
  • Use acid-free packing paper to individually wrap each piece of artwork that is an original painting or print. Regular wrapping paper will interact with the paint on a canvas so it is important to protect it especially if the piece is an antique or highly valuable. Wear the protective gloves to prevent oils on your skin from transferring to the surface of original paintings and prints during packing.
  • Use bubble wrap to cushion and secure your fine art during shipment. Bubble wrap is like wearing a seat belt when driving. It helps to protect the artwork from damage during transport.
  • Place foam corners on each piece of artwork for a tight, secure fit. Once you place the securely wrapped painting, photograph or print into a moving box or crate, the foam corners provide an additional layer of cushioned space between the art itself and the shipping box.
  • If you place multiple pieces of wrapped art into one shipping crate, then separate each one with a cardboard panel on each side that is securely taped for added protection.
  • Once you have packed your artwork into the moving box or crate the next step is to fill and cushion the empty space with packing foam peanuts or additional bubble wrap. For those pieces of fine art that are particularly valuable, you may want to place the packed box into another larger box or crate and then fill it with more packing foam for an additional layer of cushioning and protection from potential damage.
  • Use heavy-duty packing and mailing tape that is made to be used with moving boxes and crates for sealing your packages. Regular masking tape is not strong enough and will not hold.
  • Clearly mark each box with its contents even if you plan on packing them into your car to keep with you when moving to your new home. Make sure you go that extra step for protecting your fine art by writing “fragile” on the outside to ensure that the movers use care if you decide to hire professionals for the task.



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