Fine Art Care Guide: Displaying, Preserving, Handling and Hanging Paintings
Paintings are one of the most treasured assets you can own. Fine Art is not easy to find and when you find it, it is important to take proper care of it. Good care will guarantee they remain invaluable and special for you and for future generations to come.
In order to maintain the beauty of your paintings for many years, and potentially increase their value over time, this guide will help you to care for your fine art.
How to Display and Preserve Your Paintings
To properly display and preserve your paintings, consider the following tips:
- Display in areas away from extreme temperature. Avoid locating artwork in areas with direct air conditioning or heating systems. Sudden temperature fluctuations from hot to cold cause expansion and contraction of both the artwork and framing materials, which can lead to structural damage.
- Humidity can also affect the artwork. Optimally paintings should be kept at about 65-75 degrees F, relative humidity 40%-45. If the humidity is too high mold can develop in front and back of the painting.
- Dust on a regular basis with a soft natural hair brush or soft cloth. Do not apply cleaning products, this can cause irreparable damage. Always remember to clean the back of the painting too.
- Keep away from direct sunlight. Sunlight is very high in radiation (UV) which will cause the work of art to fade or increase yellowing of varnish. The fading of pigments and dyes in paintings can affect the natural color of the image.
- Avoid positioning lights too close to the paintings or directly above it. It is best to hang paintings in rooms with low levels of direct or artificial lighting. The best type of light for your painting is indirect sunlight, recessed lighting, or halogen lights (not ultraviolet). As a general rule, lights should be placed a minimum of 10 feet from the artwork.
- Keep away from smoke. Close proximity to candles, fireplaces or even a cigarette can deposit nicotine and soot onto the surface of the painting.
- Consider insuring your artwork against theft and accidental damage. A small investment now could be invaluable in the future.
How to Handle and Hang Your Paintings
Handling is a major cause of damage to artworks. Before handling a painting, make sure you can move it safely. Each handling increases the chance of accidents, and moving a painting to a new location can have detrimental effects.
- When handling or moving your painting, avoid touching or applying any pressure to the surface or the back of the canvas. Carry the painting firmly with two hands from the sides of the frame or stretcher. Do not carry a painting by the top of the frame, stretcher or by the hanging wire. If possible use clean, soft gloves.
- Always hang it in a safe place. A painting should never be displayed where it runs the risk of being bumped or leaned against, or if you see signs of humidity or water leak on the wall.
- Secure the artwork to walls using picture hanging hooks of the appropriate size for the weight of the painting. Hanger hooks should be nailed directly into a stud, or if your wall is concrete, you should use concrete plugs properly fastened into the wall to hang your paintings.
- Framing can be done to enhance the visual effect of the painting using acid free materials that will not affect the artwork.
Procedure for hanging
- Decide where you want to place the artwork by centering the artwork within the available wall space and considering the furniture size, lighting and environmental temperatures.
- Calculate the proper height to hang your artwork by holding a tape measure vertically up to your wall from floor to ceiling. Make a small mark with a pencil on the wall equal to the height of the desire eye level; let’s say for instance 60 inches (include at least a 3” to 6” gap between the top of a sofa and the bottom of the work of art, or 4” to 8” inches from a table top).
- Measure the height of the artwork to calculate the midpoint. For example, if it is 18 inches high, the midpoint is 9 inches from the bottom or top. This midway point is called the centerline.
- Measure from the artwork centerline to the highest point of the stretched hanging wire or the sawtooth hanger (let’s suppose it is 5 inches). Add that distance (5 inches) to your eye level (60 inches) and make a mark (60 + 5 = 65 inches). This is the center point where you want to install the hanger hook (for larger paintings you can install two hanger hooks that are equidistant from the center point.
SIDENOTE: Arranging several pieces (panels, diptych, triptych, etc) in a single space can get a bit more complex. You can make paper templates of each piece and tape them using easy-release painter’s tape. Treat this group of templates as a single artwork.
Original Paintings are a treasured possession, so it is very important to take good care of them. Without proper care, a painting can be easily damaged or deteriorate over time. If for some reason, your artwork is damaged, immediately contact a specialist, curator or your local museum for advice.
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