Preserving the Masters: A Guide to Proper Art Storage Techniques

Preserving the Masters A Guide to Proper Art Storage Techniques

The genius works by Old Masters are a unique legacy that the human civilization has and needs to preserve for future generations. Many of these works have already experienced many shocks and damages due to improper art storage, careless transfer in periods of wars and conflicts, and handling by non-qualified people. That’s why it is vital to provide these rare, scarce works of art with the care that can prolong their lives and ensure that our children will also enjoy the privilege of seeing these masterpieces with their own eyes.

Why Do Old Master Works Require Special Art Storage Conditions?

There are not that many Old Master works left in the 21st century. Many of them were lost or destroyed in the two world wars, and the destiny of many more still remains obscure. Yet, the scarce and precious heritage that humanity has to date needs special protection because of these objects’ old age and vulnerabilities:

  • brittle paint;
  • weakened canvas that can develop tears;
  • active processes of aging and deterioration;
  • fading colors and pigments;
  • warping and cracking of paint, resulting from humidity fluctuations;
  • craquelure;
  • extreme vulnerability to mold development (especially on linen canvas).

Storing Old Paintings: Main Things to Consider

If you’re a happy owner of an Old Master painting or work with such objects, you should know the guidelines for old art storage and management inside out. It’s important for a number of reasons:

  • Preservation of global historical and cultural heritage. All paintings by Old Masters are considered objects of unique cultural value, which puts them under rigorous protection by UNESCO and other international organizations for the sake of preservation for future generations.
  • Legal compliance. Regardless of the painting’s ownership, it is legally protected as an object of global cultural significance. Therefore, storing such items in proper conditions is a legal obligation of owners or entities entrusted with their management.
  • Protection of old paintings from environmental damage. Old Master works are extremely fragile because of their old age and the materials from which they were made. That’s why conventional art storage conditions may not suit these items. Galleries and private collectors dealing with such objects should guarantee specialized storage that slows down the aging process, protects paintings from light and UV radiation, and keeps the objects in a thoroughly controlled humidity and temperature.

We strongly encourage art dealers and owners of old paintings to familiarize themselves with these guidelines for the safe handling and storage of their precious belongings. Apart from the exclusive responsibility for cultural heritage preservation, these measures will be a sound investment into the protection of your financial interests.