Working in the sphere of fine art shipping for 20+ years, we can name some sad examples where valuable objects and artworks were mistakenly left in packages or crates and eventually discarded. Please be assured that this does not apply to containers packed or unpacked by Fine Art Shippers, just some items received and packed by other shipping companies or customers themselves. For instance, a silver tray together with several rather expensive glassware items was found by one of the art shipping companies in a discard box returned from their customer’s staff after unpacking. As an additional example, a work on paper sandwiched between cardboard sheets without any labeling on that package was mistaken for a piece of cardboard.
In this way, no matter whether you are packing you artwork yourself or use professional art packing and crating services, all containers and boxes with multiple contents should be necessarily accompanied by a packing list. You can pouch it on the outside of the box/container, but for greater safety, it is recommended to put a copy inside the package too (for example, you can glue it inside the top). The fact is that with a pack list, the person unpacking the box will know exactly what to look for. Furthermore, he or she will have an opportunity to check off all the items to make sure that all valuable pieces are unpacked before discarding the box.
What is more, when making a packing list, don’t forget about “non art” components that may be critical to your artwork. For instance, if together with a valuable object, you send a little packet of some folded mending material and a little bag of screws that is hugely important to your art installation project, we should know about that. So, please make sure that all items, including different “non art” components, appear on your pack list. Otherwise, the art shipping company or your package recipients may not recognize what is integral and what’s not. Moreover, we don’t have to guess whether the folded material in the crate is critical to the artwork or it is just something you have used to fill the space.
One more advice from Fine Art Shippers: label the packages within a crate or box. This is necessary for distinguishing a packed artwork from incidental packing supplies and materials. If it is possible, label the package with the title of the contents and artist’s name or just use a red marker to write something like “art inside.” After all, it may save a thinly or very small wrapped work of art from loss or accidental destruction.
In fact, almost every art handler has a story of the “empty” container or crate that wasn’t. That’s why, at Fine Art Shippers, all of them are carefully inspected right down to the wood before they are marked as empty. Moreover, all broken boxes, including accompanying them bubble wrap, paper, plastic, and other packing and lining materials, are searched again to make sure that no one art object is forgotten or commingled in the packing. Anyway, a pack list can help save your precious artwork, so don’t forget to put one in your package.