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How to Pack Artwork and Antiques

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Packing all your valuable possessions for a move can be nerve-wracking. But of all your expensive and delicate items, perhaps none require more extra care than your framed and unframed artwork, antiques, paintings, mirrors, figurines, and other collectables.

How to Pack Artwork and Antiques

Whether you need to transport an original Picasso or a family portrait, here's how to pack artwork and antiques during a move to ensure that they make it to your new home unscathed.

Create an inventory for packing artwork and antiques

Before you begin packing artwork and antiques, you should create a list of your artwork and antiques. This will help you figure out which items you need to pack yourself and which should be handled by moving professionals, such as large paintings, heavy mirrors, and other extremely valuable collectables. If you have any high-value antiques or artwork, remember to get it appraised before the move so you can get them insured.

Gather necessary packing materials to pack them

Once you list out your items, you'll need to have the following packing materials for packing artwork and antiques.

  • For framed artwork, large paintings, and mirrors, you can use special cardboard boxes. Unlike regular moving boxes, picture boxes are large, flat, and adjustable, making them ideal for protecting these items.
  • Use corner protectors to prevent the corners of the frame from getting damaged or causing damage to other items.
  • When packing antiques or any other collectables, you will need some of the standard packing supplies, like small moving boxes, bubble wrap, unprinted newspaper, packing peanuts, and packing tape.

Get appraised and insured

Remember, before packing artworks, antiques or any other collectables, you need to have them appraised and insured. Having your artwork or antique furniture insured is very important since it tells you the value of the art, which could have very well changed since you purchased it. So, consider having the larger valuable items appraised and insured before moving.

Packing framed artwork for moving

If you are packing a painting or a photograph that is framed, simply follow these two methods.

Method I

  • Mark an "X": If your painting or a framed photograph has a glass cover, take two strips of masking tape and place over the glass in an "X" shape. This will keep the glass from shattering during transport.
  • Secure corners with corner protectors: After you have taped the glass, now its time to secure the corners of the frame with corner protectors. This will keep the frame from being damaged during the move.
  • Wrap the piece of art in bubble wrap or unprinted newspaper.
  • Place the framed art in the moving box: After packing a framed art, it's time to carefully place it in a picture box. As an extra precaution, take cardboard and tape it over the bubble wrap before placing the framed art in the box.
  • Label the box: Once it's in the box, you can seal the box with heavy masking tape and mark the container in bold letters: "Fragile".

Method II

  • Lay the picture frame face down in the middle of a stack of brown packing paper, and, using a few sheets, wrap it in the same way you would wrap a gift.
  • Use a packing tape to ensure the frame is secure.
  • Next, take a picture box and stuff the bottom of it with some packing paper. This will give your frame some cushioning.
  • Now, place the frame into the box and stuff with packing paper around the frame to ensure the frame won't move around. Close the flaps and tape the box.

You can pack multiple frames in a single box if space permits; just make sure there's plenty of cushioning in between frames. When packing a mirror for moving, use the same method or simply watch our how to pack framed pictures and mirros video to learn the best ways to pack framed artwork and keep them protected during a move.

Packing unframed artwork for moving

If your paintings aren't covered in glass, you need to take some extra precautions to protect them:

If you are packing pictures or paintings that are unframed, you need to take some extra precautions to protect them:

  • Since the print or canvas is exposed to the air and not under glass, you will obviously not tape it with the noted X shape. But still you can protect the print or canvas by wrapping your paintings in unprinted newspaper. Be sure to use unprinted newsprint, as the ink from the regular newspaper can also react with the paint.
  • After you pack your artwork in newspaper, cover it with bubble wrap. For extra protection, tape sheets of cardboard over the bubble wrap.
  • Now that your artwork is completely covered, you can place it in the picture box and mark the container in bold letters labeled "Fragile-Artwork".

Packing antiques, collectables and other delicates

You may have a grandfather clock, an antique china cabinet, or an antique furniture that belong to your family for several generations - these are the types of treasures that you want to arrive them at your new home undamaged, and to achieve that goal, you'll need to pack your antiques very carefully.

  • When packing antiques, start with the largest items, such as armoires and dining room tables. Take photographs for your records and wrap each piece in bubble wrap or newspaper. Read more: How to Pack a Dining Room Set.
  • For smaller antiques like jewelry, silver, and collectibles, use bubble wrap and moving blankets to cover the items completely.
  • You can pack multiple items in a single box if space permits; just make sure there's plenty of cushioning in between the items.

If you have antique statue or any other small antiques that are valuable, buy boxes that are specially designed for moving these items. Once you have the right boxes, you can pack each piece in bubble wrap or newspaper and seal the covering together with tape. Then, fill up about one-third of the box with packing peanuts and place the item inside the box upright, securing the item with more peanuts. Once the piece is secure, tape the box shut. Of course, be sure to write the word "Fragile" on the box.

There are many things to consider when packing artwork and antiques for moving, so it is advisable to hire a professional moving company to handle the task.

Shipping artwork and antiques

Your prized photograph, painting or antiques is now securely packed and ready for shipment, and it is time to transport it to the desired destination. There are various ways to ship artwork, which can be transported via vehicle, train, airplane or ship. Shipping packages internationally is different than shipping domestically. If you are transporting artwork overseas, you will want to research the country you are shipping it to so you are sure to follow all the international shipping regulations and prohibitions.

Once you have found out the rules and regulations of the respective country, you can proceed with shipping the package. Though you may want to handle the paperwork and package yourself, it is also wise to hire a fine art handling company to assist you in moving your art internationally or domestically so it arrives in protected and in pristine condition. A fine art handling company can also assist you with packaging, storage and installation. After your artwork is packaged and shipped, you must trust in the hands that are treating it, and remember, you have it insured in the case that those hands are a little shaky.

Adam Mandelbaum  Posted by Adam Mandelbaum on August 27, 2009

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