Moving art: how to transfer your treasured pieces

moving art how to transfer your treasured pieces

For art lovers and collectors, moving art is a delicate task. It requires meticulous attention to detail and specialised knowledge to ensure that each piece arrives at its new home in pristine condition. Whether you’re a seasoned collector or a burgeoning art enthusiast, understanding how to move artwork ahead of your house move is crucial. This guide will navigate you through the essentials of moving artwork, ensuring your pieces are preserved every step of the way.

An introduction to moving artwork

Moving your precious pieces isn’t just about wrapping and boxing; it’s actually a bit of an art in itself. Unlike standard household items, art requires special consideration due to its fragility, value, and, often, the sentimental attachment we hold to it.

Preparing your artwork for the move

preparing your artwork for the move

Gather the right supplies

Ensure you have the right materials for packing your artwork ready to go before moving day. High-quality packing supplies are non-negotiable when it comes to moving art. Use sturdy, art-sized boxes, acid-free paper, bubble wrap, painter’s tape and custom crates for valuable or large pieces. Investing in the right materials can make all the difference in protecting your art from bumps, temperature changes and moisture during the move.

Pack artwork like a pro

The key to moving artwork? Wrapping and packing each piece separately. It’s a must!

Prepare flat pieces, like paintings, for moving by securing the artwork’s glass front with painter’s tape in a star pattern to prevent shattering. Next, wrap the piece in acid-free paper, followed by bubble wrap for cushioning. Fit your artwork into a picture box (it should fit nicely and snuggly), or make a custom cardboard sleeve for added protection.

For canvases and unframed pieces that need a bit of extra care, gently cover the front with wax paper or acid-free paper. Secure these pieces with packing tape, making sure the tape only touches the backing, never the canvas or frame directly. It’s important your artwork travels safely, wrapped up in protection, to avoid compromising its value. 

To prepare sculptures and irregular-shaped artwork for moving, it’s best to wrap them in acid-free paper, paying extra attention to protruding parts. Use bubble wrap generously, secure it with tape and place the piece in a box filled with loose-fill peanuts for cushioning. For extra large or delicate sculptures, consider a custom-built crate.

Special considerations

We all know Australia’s weather can vary greatly – hot and humid one day, cooler the next. It’s hard to keep up. It’s important to remember that weather can significantly affect artwork, especially during long moves. If possible, opt for climate-controlled transport when moving art, and avoid storing art in locations where temperature and humidity levels fluctuate widely.

How to pack artwork for moving

how to pack artwork for moving

Now that you have a basic understanding of how to move your artwork, here’s a handy step-by-step guide for packing your pieces to ensure they arrive at your new home in one (beautiful) piece.

choose the right boxes or crates

Step 1: Choose the right boxes or crates. Select appropriately sized boxes for each piece of art, ensuring they’re slightly larger than the artwork and frame. Custom crating with padding is recommended for high-value or oversized items, providing maximum protection.

secure the glass

Step 2: Secure the glass. If your artwork has a glass front, apply masking tape in an X shape over the glass to minimise damage if it shatters in the move. 

protect your art

Step 3: Protect your art. For artwork without glass, wrap it with wax paper to shield it during transit. Alternatively, acid-free paper is best for delicate or valuable pieces.

wrap and cushion

Step 4: Wrap and cushion. Wrap bubble wrap around the artwork to ensure it’s well-protected on all sides. Adding layers will give your pieces an extra buffer against shocks and vibrations that could occur during transit. You want to wrap bubble wrap tightly, but not too tightly so that the bubble wrap’s pressure could potentially damage your art. 

check for movement

Step 5: Check for movement. Now that your artwork is properly wrapped and protected, place it into the box you prepared earlier. Before sealing, gently shake the box to ensure there’s no movement. Fill any gaps with crumpled paper if necessary.

seal and label

Step 6: Seal and label. Securely tape the box and clearly mark it with the contents and the words ‘Fragile artwork’ to ensure it is handled carefully. 

load and transport with care

Step 7: Load and transport with care. Now, it’s time to load your artwork into the moving van. Always place your artwork in the van last and ensure nothing heavy is stacked on top. Keep your artwork on its side (don’t lie it flat!) to distribute pressure better and prevent damage.

setting up your new space

Step 8: Setting up your new space. Give your artwork a day or two to acclimatise to the new environment before unwrapping it. Then, carefully inspect and unpack your artwork, wearing gloves to avoid any oil transfer from your hands. Lastly, consider the placement of your art in your new home, considering factors like sunlight exposure, humidity and temperature variations. You will be admiring your beautiful art in no time at all.

Moving your art with care

Moving artwork requires careful planning, the right materials and a bit of patience. By following our guide, your art collection can be moved with care and will help ensure your pieces arrive safely. If you want to leave moving art to the experts, Happly is an all-in-one platform for comparing and booking all the pieces of moving home. Happly also has you sorted with the ultimate moving out list and moving house checklist to ensure your move is as seamless and rewarding as possible.

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