According to the New York Times, worldwide fine art sales totaled over $60 billion in 2017. That’s just one sector of the global collectibles market! So where does it all go, exactly? Like the market it serves, fine art storage is booming. Fine art shipping and fine art storage companies are adding square footage to warehouses and offering highly specialized services to keep up with the demand from individuals, galleries and museums, even governments.
Collectors may have very different interests—vinyl records or vintage wines, comic books or classic cars, fine art or antique furniture—but all collectors have very similar concerns about storage. As a collection grows in size and value it becomes impractical to keep every single acquisition safely on display. No matter how treasured, some items will need to be tucked away—temporarily, or for a significant amount of time—and the way these unique pieces are packed and stored affects their condition and value.
If you find yourself needing to store something that you value highly, here are four smart collectible storage tips that can help you decide where, and how, to store your precious pieces and protect your investment:
Inspected and Insured
Prior to packing, you should create a photo inventory of your collection and document condition thoroughly. And, of course, all artwork in storage should be insured by its owner. In fact, your fine art storage facility may request proof of insurance before accepting your piece. Insurance companies keep track of how much liability they are holding at any one storage location and, in some cases, your insurer may even ask you to move your collection to another facility! A fire in a London warehouse wiped out millions of dollars in fine art in 2004 and insurers are very aware of managing their risk.
Security and Stability
A professional fine art storage facility will have multiple, redundant 24/7 security protocols in place to protect your artwork and collectibles—but some threats are almost impossible to avoid. Depending on the natural and political climate where you live, you may not wish to store your collection close to home. Some collectors in California, worried about earthquakes or wildfires, warehouse their collections in other parts of the country. During times of political unrest or war, wealthy collectors in other countries choose to ship their artwork to the U.S. or Europe and collectors in coastal cities are beginning to consider the effects of global warming and rising sea levels on their fine art storage locations.
Security levels can affect ease of access to your art, however. How quickly you can retrieve your art or collectibles from the storage facility you choose if you want to make a quick sale? (Transacting sales in a fine art storage facility is becoming a new trend—pieces change owners without changing locations!) Will you miss a piece and suddenly want it on display? Do you have seasonal homes and need only short-term storage?
Professional fine art storage experts are always happy to help you find a collectible storage solution that suits your lifestyle.
Consistent Climate Control
Every piece of art will require specific climate control settings for proper preservation, but broadly speaking, almost all fine art and collectibles are happiest in very dark and very dry places. Don’t assume you can keep your collection in an attic or basement, however! The key is carefully calibrated consistency. A professional fine art storage facility can fine-tune settings in storage to best suit individual items and keep them there, every single day, all year round. If your basement is mostly dry but can flood in the spring … if your attic is usually cool but heats up in the summer … don’t risk it.
Fine art storage experts confer with professional conservators to choose the best climate for collectibles and put sophisticated systems in place to preserve optimal conditions, all the time.
The current trend in contemporary art toward unusual and unexpected materials and enormous, large-scale installations has made packing fine art for storage a real challenge that often requires a custom solution. In general, art and collectibles should be packed such that the art does not touch the packing materials or other pieces and the art can be stored flat. Unframed oil paintings should not be rolled up, for instance, but placed in flat drawers or boxes. Framed pieces should be stacked standing up (with all wire handing hardware removed) to avoid weight buckling or cracking the frames, while wine bottles should be always stored on their side.
Professional fine art storage facilities work with art experts and packing professionals to create custom crates whenever needed. They may recommend a cleaning prior to storage and can advise you on the packing materials that will best protect your piece.
Bring your questions and concerns to Mind’s Eye. Call 800-428-9800 to discuss your fine art and collectible storage needs with one of our specialists.