Transporting Artwork When Moving

by | Jan 7, 2024

Transporting artwork is a delicate task that demands meticulous attention and care. Art pieces, whether they be paintings, sculptures, or other forms, often carry both sentimental and monetary value. Their unique and fragile nature means that they can’t be treated like just another household item. From the materials used in their creation to their often irregular shapes, the artwork presents specific challenges during a move. Understanding the best practices for packing, handling, and transporting art can ensure that your cherished pieces reach their new home in pristine condition.

Transporting Artwork When Moving

Wrapping Materials And Equipment For Moving Artwork

Moving artwork requires experience and using the correct protection materials to preserve and protect the artwork while in transit or if being stored. Even if you want to do it yourself, you will need to gather everything you will need to wrap your piece of artwork. So what you might need?

Materials needed:

  • Bubble Wrap
  • Foam Boards or Corner Protectors
  • Packing Tape
  • Plastic Wrap or Plastic Sheeting
  • Sturdy Cardboard or Plywood
  • Artwork Boxes
  • Packing Peanuts or Foam Inserts
  • Soft Cloth or Blankets
  • Markers

Transporting different types of artwork

Transporting artwork is a delicate task that requires specialized knowledge and skills. Different types of artwork have unique requirements, and knowing how to meet these can be crucial in ensuring your art arrives in perfect condition at its destination. Here are some tips on how to handle various types of artwork:

How to Handle Paintings with Oils or Acrylics

  • Surface Protection: Always protect the painted surface by covering it with acid-free paper or glassine.
  • Frame Support: If the painting is framed, ensure that you add corner protectors to protect both the frame and the painting.
  • Padding: After protecting the surface, wrap the entire piece in bubble wrap for extra padding.
  • Orientation: Always move and store the painting in an upright position, never laying it flat.
  • Crate: For long-distance moves, consider building or buying a custom-made crate to provide additional protection.

The Best Ways to Transport Sculptures

  • Material Assessment: Understand the material of the sculpture (e.g., bronze, marble, wood) as each has specific packing requirements.
  • Disassembly: If the sculpture can be disassembled, separate the parts and pack them individually.
  • Padding: Use bubble wrap, foam, or padded blankets to insulate the sculpture.
  • Crate: Like paintings, consider using a custom-made crate. Ensure that the sculpture is snugly fitted inside.
  • Orientation: Always transport sculptures in their intended orientation to avoid structural damage.

Dealing with Textile-Based Artworks like Tapestries

  • Clean: Ensure the textile is clean and dry before packing.
  • Fold or Roll: Depending on the size and the delicacy, either carefully fold with acid-free paper between the folds or roll the textile around a cardboard tube.
  • Wrap: Use cotton sheets or acid-free paper to wrap the textile completely.
  • Box: Place it in a plastic box to protect from moisture. For additional protection, you can put the plastic box inside a wooden crate.
  • Climate Control: Consider using climate-controlled storage or transportation, especially if the textile is antique or fragile.

Special Care for Glass or Ceramic Art Pieces

  • Bubble Wrap: First, wrap the piece in acid-free paper and then in bubble wrap. The more delicate the piece, the more layers you should use.
  • Box Filling: Use packing peanuts or foam inserts to fill empty spaces within the box you are using for the glass or ceramic art.
  • Double Box: Consider using a smaller box for the piece and then placing that inside a larger box filled with packing peanuts.
  • Fragile Label: Always label boxes containing glass or ceramics as ‘Fragile’.
  • Orientation: Note down the correct orientation of the box and ensure it is maintained during transportation.
  • Insurance: Due to their delicate nature, consider purchasing additional insurance for glass or ceramic artworks.

Remember, each piece of art is unique, and it may require special care beyond general guidelines. Always consult professionals if you are unsure about how to proceed.

What materials do we use to transport artwork when moving?

Selecting the right packing materials is crucial when it comes to transporting artwork safely. Here is a guide to some of the most important materials you’ll need, along with specific advice on how to use them effectively.

Using Bubble Wrap Effectively

  • Size Matters: Use larger bubbles for items with a rigid surface and smaller bubbles for delicate items.

  • Orientation: The bubbles should face toward the art piece for maximum cushioning. For sensitive surfaces, use a layer of acid-free paper first.

  • Overlap: Ensure that the bubble wrap overlaps on all sides and secure it with packing tape.

  • Do Not Over-Tighten: Make sure the bubble wrap is snug but not stretched tight, as this could compromise the cushioning effect.

  • Multiple Layers: For highly fragile or valuable items, consider using multiple layers of bubble wrap.

The Importance of Acid-Free Paper

  • Surface Protection: Acid-free paper is essential for covering the surface of artwork like paintings and textiles, as it won’t harm the materials over time.

  • Buffer: Use it as a buffer between the art piece and other packing materials like bubble wrap or foam boards.

  • Layering: When packing items with multiple layers (e.g., a stack of prints), place acid-free paper between each layer.

  • Archival Quality: For long-term storage, always opt for acid-free paper to prevent yellowing or deterioration.

Types of Foam Boards and Inserts

  • Polyethylene Foam Boards: These are closed-cell foam boards suitable for heavy items and are excellent shock absorbers.

  • Polystyrene Foam Boards: These are better for lightweight, delicate items but are not as good at absorbing shock.

  • Foam Inserts: Custom foam inserts can be cut to fit the exact dimensions and contours of your artwork for maximum protection.

  • Corner Protectors: These are foam pieces designed to protect the corners of framed artwork.

How and When to Use Wooden Crates

  • Custom Crates: For high-value or particularly fragile items, consider custom-built wooden crates. These can be made to fit your artwork exactly.

  • Internal Padding: Line the wooden crate with foam boards or bubble wrap to minimize movement during transport.

  • Securing the Art: Use straps or ties to secure the artwork within the crate, ensuring it doesn’t shift during transit.

  • Reusability: High-quality wooden crates can be reused for future moves, making them a long-term investment.

  • Climate-Controlled: If your art requires climate control, certain crates come equipped with such features.

  • When to Use: Wooden crates are generally used for long-distance moves, international shipping, or transporting particularly valuable or fragile items.

Artwork protection process

Once you have all protection supplies in hand, it is time to prepare your artwork to be moved. If the item is not big find some large, flat, and empty area in your home, where you can wrap the painting or statue with either bubble wrap or paper. Make sure the object is protected from all sides and there is a minimum of 2 layers of wrapping material. Placing any small items into removal boxes will be one level of better protection when transporting artwork. You can buy boxes from our online shop.

When you prepare any type of fragile item, always try to ensure that you minimize the contact between the item and another hard surface object. This is why a couple of layers of soft materials need to surround the artwork.

Moving paintings and frames

Secure the corners of each painting with foam corner protectors if you can. You can do it for free by folding small cardboard pieces and securing them with tape to keep the most exposed part of the artwork. Then wrap each piece one by one with a couple of layers of bubble wrap. This will separate it from other items and protect it from damage. If you wonder how Movivan transports artwork and particularly paintings, we leave them at the end of our removal vans. All paintings are secured between flat boxes separated and far from the furniture.

During the artwork transport

When moving any type of breakable item- big or small, you need to make sure there are two things in place. The object must be professionally wrapped and secured with straps inside the removal van. Our removal teams at Movivan are fully trained and experienced in doing this every day. As mentioned above we place all small paintings in boxes, while the medium and large ones are the last items going inside our van. They are strapped between cardboard boxes and far from any furniture or hard surfaces.

Statues and awkward size artwork are fully covered with furniture paper or placed into a specially made wooden crate. Inside the crate, the item is also wrapped and safely secured. Instead of wondering how to transport artwork, simply call Movivan at 0208 0033 260 and let us do it.

Artwork transport costs

When moving anything fragile with the standard removal price, most likely there will be additional costs for the packing materials used. The final moving price will depend on many factors, so instead of giving you a wrong guess submit your request online and we will prepare a competitive quotation within 24 hours.

How Do You Transport Artwork Into Storage?

When wrapping and transporting artwork to a storage facility, the principles are generally the same as moving to a new house, with the main goal being to protect the artwork from damage during transit. However, there are a few additional considerations to account for, given that the artwork may be stored for an extended period, potentially in less controlled environments.

Long-Term Protection

When moving to storage, wrapping should be done with a focus on long-term protection from dust, moisture, and pests. Using plastic sheeting or airtight bags can offer additional protection compared to regular moving.

Climate Consideration

Artwork stored in facilities without climate control can be susceptible to damage from extreme temperatures and humidity, so it is important to consider additional protective measures such as sealed plastic containers or climate-controlled storage units.

Accessibility and Labeling

When placing artwork in storage, consider how items are labeled and positioned. Proper labeling and strategic placement are crucial for easy accessibility, especially if multiple items are being stored.

Padded Wrapping

Given the possibility of longer-term storage, adding extra padding using soft cloths or blankets can prevent abrasions and pressure points that could damage the artwork over time.


Finally, consider securing adequate insurance coverage for your artwork while it’s in storage, given the extended period and potential risks involved, such as theft or damage due to environmental conditions.

How Do You Transport Artwork Internationally?

Shipping artwork internationally in a container requires meticulous attention to protection due to the numerous risks involved, such as potential damage from extended transit times, impacts, and environmental elements. To minimize these risks, it’s crucial to invest in professional packing services, specialized in handling artwork. Our house removal services offer this option if you are moving abroad. We have all the materials and knowledge to prepare your artwork to be transported long-distance.

What do we use?

Using materials like bubble wrap or foam is essential to absorb shocks and vibrations, with extra attention needed for corners and fragile parts of the artwork. For large sizes we add 1-2 layers of removal blankets on top. Most paintings will be also wrapped with cardboard boxes, or if too small will be placed into a box.

What else can help for a safe transport?

Comprehensive insurance coverage is another critical aspect, covering the artwork’s full value to mitigate financial risk in case of damage or loss. Clear and detailed labeling, along with complete and accurate customs and export documentation, is vital to avoid mishandling, delays, and potential damage during inspections. Lastly, opting for shipping services that offer detailed tracking and direct routes can minimize handling points and transit times, further reducing the risk of mishandling and damage to the artwork.

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