Long-distance Moves Made Simple

The Ultimate Guide To Packing Framed Art To Minimize Damage

by Stanley Lynch

Whenever you move, you risk damaging your things. Knowing how to pack art the correct way, however, can minimize that risk. If you have framed art to pack, these tips can help.

Snap a Picture

As you gather your art into one location to prep it for packing and moving, take a picture of each piece. If there is damage to the artwork itself or to the surrounding framing, you will have proof for the insurance company of what it looked like before transport. If you have documentation of its provenance or limited edition certificates, consider packing them separate from the artwork.  

'X' Marks the Spot

Everyone knows to place a large 'X' in masking tape to the front of the glass before packing up any art, but no one seems to understand the why behind this step. The tape does not protect to glass from breaking. Glass is cheap. Rather, the tape prevents the broken glass from moving around within the packaging material and damaging the artwork underneath. 

Know Which Way Is Up

If you have limited edition pieces, lithographs, or original prints, chances are they were framed using archival techniques. This means that the art was not permanently adhered to the backing, but it floats freely within the matting. A linen hinge tape is the material of choice for archival mounting. While this tape is safe for valuable artwork, the framed piece needs to stay upright or the tape will release. Mark the art with arrows so everyone involved in the move knows which way is up.

Protect the Frame

Wrap the frame with a soft foam or bubble wrap before sliding it into a box. If you use anything else, you risk scratching the surface of the frame. This applies to all frames, but especially to gold leaf, black lacquer, and softwood frames. 

Guard the Corners

Once the art is securely wrapped, be sure to protect the corners. Cardboard corners can be purchased that help stabilize the frame and prevent damage. When custom picture framers break apart frames that are no longer in use, they set it on its corner and gently push down, breaking the glue seal and popping out the brads (nails) with ease. Using cardboard corners helps ensures that the frame isn't accidentally broken in this manner during the move. 

Front to Front

Do not stack art on top of each other. The correct way to transport it is to stand art up and lean them against each other. The pieces need to be front to front and back to back; otherwise, you risk the hanging hardware damaging the soft surface of the next frame.  

Follow these tips when packing your artwork to ensure that it will arrive at your final destination in one piece. Better yet, call a full-service moving company like United Moving and Storage to do the job for you.