How to Best Display and Protect Art in Your Home

How to Best Display and Protect Art in Your Home

Whether you’re decorating your very first home or are looking to spruce up your place, finding the right artwork can be a good investment for the future. Photographs, sculptures, paintings, textiles, and other artwork frequently appreciate in value over time.

To protect your cherished pieces, it’s important to display the artwork in a way that not only reflects its quality, but protects it from future damage. Here are four tips to best display and protect the art in your home.

1. Choose the Proper Method of Framing or Hanging

Museums have established best practices for displaying artwork, and these methods can be replicated in your home.

Take photos and paintings to a local framer to discuss the best type of frame and hanging system for each piece. Not only can custom framers help you select the best materials, such as finished wood and plexiglass, they can ensure whatever they use will support the weight of your piece.

Textiles, such as quilts or rugs, are best displayed on walls by using a hanging system that incorporates nondyed muslin sleeves sewn to the top and back. You then insert a wooden slat or metal rod through the sleeve and attach the rod to the wall. This keeps you from putting too many holes in the fabric while evenly distributing the weight to keep it from stretching.

Sculptures and vases may benefit from custom shelves or pedestals installed in your home. If you’re making renovations to display your art, make sure the contractor has experience with artwork and knows what materials to use and avoid. For example, cedar is often used to protect items from moth damage, but the oils from the wood can cause permanent stains.

2. Control the Climate

Most artwork is created using natural, organic materials, such as cotton fibers in canvas, wools in textiles, and nonsynthetic colors in dyes and paints. Although these natural elements add value to your artwork, they also make the pieces more susceptible to material warping, color bleeding, and other damages caused by changes in the temperature and humidity level.

It’s a good idea to display or store your artwork in conditions similar to those you live in, with temperatures kept between 68 and 72 degrees. Many HVAC systems now incorporate humidity controls, and you should set yours between 40% and 60% to keep the levels from fluctuating too often.

You should also avoid storing valuable pieces in attics or basements. These areas experience more frequent changes in temperature and are more susceptible to water damage caused by flooding. Ask your insurance company if your policy covers artwork or if you need to purchase an additional policy for added protection.

3. Avoid Direct Sunlight

Sunlight is one of the leading causes of damage to art. Over time, sunlight causes irreversible bleaching on most materials.

Avoid placing your most valuable art in rooms or on walls that receive a lot of light. You can also consult a framing expert about using a glass or plexiglass cover that has UV protection.

If you’re already an avid art collector and you’re in the market for a new residence, talk to a real estate agent about looking for homes that don’t receive too much natural light. That doesn’t mean you have to live in a windowless home, but instead, you might consider submitting an offer letter on a home that has well-established trees that block some of the sunlight or windows that don’t face directly east or west.

4. Handle with Care

When installing or moving your artwork, wash your hands frequently and consider wearing white cotton gloves. Our skin produces natural oils that keep it from drying, but when these oils transfer to art, they can cause permanent stains over time.

Over time, your art may require cleaning. Avoid using any chemicals and use chemical-free dusters instead. Depending on the size of your artwork, you can also use the hose on a vacuum cleaner to remove dust. When using this approach, turn the suction on its lowest setting and cover the nozzle with a pair of nylons to keep the suction from directly touching your art.

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