For the experienced or budding collector, the practising
artist and museum or gallery professional, there will come a day when artwork
needs to be shipped over international or local waters. The Mixed Media team
has touched on the issue of conservation of works on paper and paintings in the
past. A brief portion was dedicated to the shipping and handling of artwork,
however, being a complicated topic, today’s post will explore the different
methods of preparing, packaging and transporting art.
One of the first issues to address when preparing artwork to
be shipped is whether the individual wishes for the piece to be returned. If
this is the intention, the shipper should resume responsibility for this and provide
materials for the artwork to be sent back. To make this process easier and more
cost efficient, preparing the piece with reusable materials is best. These
include, but are not limited to, bubble wrap, shrink-wrap, acid free paper,
acid free cardboard, plastic and wood. The shipper should also include
instructions as to the proper re-packaging of the piece.
How artwork is packaged depends on the type of piece it is.
For new pieces made with paint that can withstand curling, it is sufficient to
roll the artwork into a plastic, tube. It is best to place the paintings on
layers of acid-free paper, and then roll the artwork into the tube. The paper
provides support and protection from the elements. Unframed works on paper
should be placed in acid-free boxes, and layered with acid-free paper.
Framed pieces require a bit more handiwork and creativity.
Procuring a large cardboard, plastic or metal box is the first step. Shippers
are encouraged to line the box with a waterproof substance such as plastic or
wood. Secondly, the painting’s frame is taken into consideration. Is it large?
Thick? Will the painting itself need extra support? If so, individuals are
encouraged to purchase foam cut to the size of the painting. Once cut, the foam
is intended to fit perfectly on the back of the painting, between the framed
portions. The next step is to wrap the entire piece in foam or bubble wrap and
place this into the box. The key to safe transportation is ensuring that the
artwork does not have the space to move or slide around.
Choosing a shipping provider can be a difficult one,
however, the shipper needs to feel completely comfortable with the service they
choose. Cost and shipping time are crucial decisions to be made and can
drastically alter the cost. Air transport is typically more expensive, as well
as rush delivery. However, these are some of the safest options as they cut
down on human interaction and mistakes. Sea transport is acceptable and tends
to be cheaper, though it takes longer. It is not encouraged to send works on
paper via boat, as the continued exposure to humidity, water and fluctuating
temperatures can severely damage the art. Ultimately, the shipper needs to feel
comfortable with whatever service they choose. Sometimes, looking for reviews
and recommendations are good starting points.
For more information and enquiries on shipping art, advice or tips, feel free to contact the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas at
Ebert, Bettina. "Simple, Effective Transport Boxes for Paintings.
" Simple, Effective Transport Boxes for Paintings
Asiarta, 29 Aug. 2011. Web. 12 July 2012.
Powell, Kim. "A SHORT HISTORY OF ART TRANSPORT
." A SHORT HISTORY OF ART TRANSPORT
. ICEFAT, 2011. Web. 12 July 2012.