Generally speaking, moving to a new home is a challenging process, no matter how many possessions you have. However, moving with valuable and fragile possessions can be even more frustrating and stressful. Transporting your family’s art collection is no easy task because it involves careful and skillful packing, preparations, and planning. For this reason, we have written a guide for transporting large-format paintings so that you have a clearer idea about what you need to pay attention to and what you should expect once you start organizing your move.
It is definitely true that large paintings, old photos, antique furniture, and decorative items all require special treatment during relocation. There are many things you can do to prevent damages made to the frames or the artwork itself. However, in case you still feel that the necessary ‘packing precautions’ may not be enough to keep your large format paintings secure, we strongly suggest you inquire about art insurance as a backup plan, just in case something goes wrong.
Place the artwork into appropriately sized boxes.
The first thing you need to pay attention to is the size of the boxes and the paintings. In most cases, small and medium-sized paintings are placed together in large boxes. This is done to prevent friction and the potential shattering of the glass and frames. Therefore, the artwork and the boxes containing the artwork should be stacked and pressed together to minimize movement in the vehicle.
When it comes to moving larger artwork, the best thing to do is pack each piece in a separate box that is only slightly larger than the painting itself. These specialty boxes have to be carefully chosen and purchased from the supply store well before your relocation.
You should not improvise with boxes that are larger or smaller. Having a larger box leaves room for movement and potential damages, cuts, and shattered glass, whereas the painting may fall out of a box that is smaller than the painting.
Tape the glass with an X
If the picture has glass protection, be sure to tape the glass with masking tape diagonally. This little trick will keep the glass in place in case it cracks during transportation.
In case your large-format paintings are not framed or protected by glass, it is best if you wrap the front of the painting with several thick layers of plastic wrap, palette wrap, or any other wrapping material that will protect it from impact.
How to wrap your large-format paintings with wrapping material
As we mentioned, you should wrap your artwork in thick layers of the wrapping material of your choice. But what is the best way to do this? Let us take a look.
● Cut two equally sized pieces of brown paper (should be larger than the painting)
● Place the framed painting face down against one sheet of brown paper
● Cover the painting with the second sheet of brown paper
● Tape down the ends of the brown paper together like a present
● Wrap the packing tape around the painting on all sides
● Place the painting in a box
Pro tip: add a layer of wrapping paper or shock-absorbent wrapping material
Be sure to use brown packing paper rather than newspapers or other types of paper that do not offer the necessary support. Newspapers are not large enough to be taped down and wrapped around large-format paintings, and they tend to leave print ink on artwork.
As you can see, art should be handled properly, so if you are unsure whether you can pack and move your large-format paintings or art collectibles on your own, the best thing is to call in professional artwork packing and moving crews.
Check if the painting is moving inside the box.
Before you finally seal the box with tape, you need to give it a few gentle pushes so that you can estimate if the painting is moving too much inside the box. If this is the case, you can crumble some newspapers to create padding. As we said before, be sure to do so only if you have already wrapped the artwork in brown packing paper.
Seal the box appropriately.
In our experience, it is best if you use specialty boxes to pack large-format paintings such as triptychs. Place the tape on both ends of the box. Of course, you should first seal the upper part of the box and then stand it so that you can tape the bottom end for additional safety. This can be a bit difficult if the painting format is extremely large, so be sure to have a helping hand nearby just in case.
Label the box
It might appear to you that it is obvious which boxes contain your large paintings. Regardless, you must label the boxes clearly and appropriately since you can really never be too sure what people might do to the boxes if they see them unlabeled.
So, note down that the box contains fragile or glass items with a clearly written, short word such as ‘Fragile’ or ‘Glass.’ Proper labeling is crucial.
Be careful when placing the boxes into the vehicle.
Be sure to check if the moving crew is placing the paintings on the side of the moving truck. This is where labeling comes in – the artwork must not be laid flat on the ground, which means you need to inform the moving crew about the size of the vehicle you need. You can also stack your artwork between heavy furniture and other large items to prevent them from moving.
Keep in mind that when transporting extremely high-valued fine art, you may require a professional art shipper.
We hope this short guide to transporting large-format paintings helped you prepare for the big move with your art collection. Good luck!