Displaying art around the house can work wonders for your space. A simple illustration, or an abstract painting can turn a plain old wall into a major source of inspiration. Not to mention, they offer long-term benefits for various individuals including those living with dementia. But owning art can be a big investment, as pieces require plenty of care and caution over time. Whether you’re a seasoned art collector or an art enthusiast in the process of buying your first art piece, it’s important to be armed with proper guidance when it comes to taking care of your art pieces at home.
To take the guesswork out of the daunting task, we speak to two art experts on how to keep art in good condition. Read on for their tips.
Where You Place Your Art Matters
Whether in the living room, bedroom or kitchen, there are certain conditions you need to consider when displaying your art.
Pay Attention to the Elements
According to curator and art consultant Julie Muniz, art owners should pay attention to three key elements when it comes to displaying art: light, humidity and temperature. Depending on the medium of art, like works on paper, textiles or photographs, certain pieces can fade from long-term exposure to direct light due to UV rays emitted from the sun or fluorescent lighting. She suggests keeping these pieces away from direct light or have them framed with museum-quality UV plexiglass.
When it comes to humidity and temperature levels, works done on paper like photographs, tend to brown or develop mildew over time, so placing them in highly humid places like bathrooms should be avoided. “People are often surprised when I mention temperature as an area of concern for art collections”, says Muniz. “The main thing to remember about temperature is to keep it level. High fluctuations can cause woods and other organic materials to crack and degrade.”
However, oil paintings require slightly different care. Graydon Sikes, director of artwork at Everything But The House and appraiser at PBS’s Antique Roadshow, explains that exposure to extreme heat and cold can cause cracking to the surface of an oil. He explains further, “Exposure to smoke and sun can also cause the protective coating, or a “varnish”, to turn yellow or dark over time. This is regarded as natural, and varnish can be cleaned and replaced with a routine cleaning by a conservator.”
Frame Your Art
There’s a good reason why most works of art are framed. Framing delicate art pieces help protect the work from harmful elements and keep it intact. This includes frames with glass covers and those without.
“Traditional methods of displaying oils are without glass to cover them, and often with a light pointing in the work’s direction,” explains Graydon Sikes. “Works on paper often are under glass – non-reflective in the best cases.” So while you’re shopping for art, think about where and how you’re going to display these pieces at home, and consider your frame options as well.
If you’re thinking of leaning your artwork on a wall, Julie Muniz suggests making sure the piece has support behind it to prevent the piece from warping. On the subject of hanging unframed works of art with clips, she explains “this is fine for short-term display, but for valuable pieces I always recommend framing.”
Normally, you should let professionals handle the cleaning of delicate art pieces. But you can still do a bit of light dusting (with a soft cloth!) as part of your spring cleaning routine.
For framed pieces of work, Julie Muniz recommends using plexiglass cleaners to wipe-down plexiglass covered work and to avoid ammonia-based window cleaners unless the work is glazed with glass.
Store in a Cool, Dark Room
There comes a time where you’ll have to keep certain pieces of art in storage, especially if you’re relocating to a new home.
To protect valuable pieces of art, you can wrap small pieces in acid-free tissue and store in a box while large, framed pieces can be wrapped in a blanket, according to Muniz. She also reminds us to store art in a cool, dark room where the work is least likely to be disturbed.
Keep Those Receipts
Your art collection might have a permanent residence in your space, but it’s essential to safeguard all the necessary documents on the artworks you own.
With years of experience in the art industry, Graydon Sikes shares valuable advice to budding art collectors: “Keep all of your receipts, and any information pertaining to the pieces you collect. They can be valuable in the future to better identify objects”. Finally he encourages you to “buy what you love, and what you are drawn to. You may certainly take fair market value into consideration, but after all, that is not the most important thing.”
With all these useful tips, taking good care of your artwork shouldn’t be so difficult. If you’re an art collector yourself, share your experience with us in the comments below!
For those looking to buy their first art piece, our guide to buying art for your home has you covered. Remember to stay in touch with us by subscribing to our newsletter, and following us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!