How to Preserve Art

Had the Mona Lisa been hung in Leonardo da Vinci’s sunroom for the last 500 years, there wouldn’t be much left to smile at.

But, instead, it’s been kept in perfect conditions behind glass at the Louvre in Paris.

The fact is, deterioration is inevitable, but it’s the rate of deterioration that we can control—and it makes a significant difference.

Whether you’re a collector of art or a creator of art, your collection is likely to be one of the most valuable things you own, both from an emotional and a financial perspective.

That means your artwork is worth protecting and preserving for future generations.

Yes, you can—and should—display your paintings, sketches, and photography so that you can enjoy them on a daily basis. But you do need to take a bit of care when deciding exactly how to do that.

Art Preservation Tips

• Handle art with care. Wear white cotton gloves if you must touch the painting. Remove any watches or bracelets to prevent accidental scuffs or scratches. And hold the painting with a hand firmly on either side of the frame (not from the top). If the piece is large, get somebody to help you move it.
• Hang the art with care. You don’t want to trust drywall or even plaster to hold up your piece of art. Instead, make sure that hooks are driven into a stud. If the painting is heavy, you can also consider using a mounting bracket underneath the painting.
• Consider where you hang your art. Make sure your painting is out of direct sunlight and away from all heat sources (including fireplaces). Extremely high and low humidity should also be avoided. Make sure your artwork is kept away from sinks. Also avoid exposure to cigarette smoke.
• Dust only under the right conditions. If your painting is flaking at all, do not attempt to dust it. Brushing a painting with a matte surface is also not suggested, as it can leave an imprint. Other works of art can be safely dusted using a clean, soft, natural hair artists’ brush. Hold the painting upright and at an angle, so that the dust falls away from it. Brush slowly and gently in one direction, followed by the other direction.
• If in doubt, consult an art conservationist.

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