Caring for Fine Art

You or your cleaning staff should be well informed as how to best care for your collections to preserve and protect their value and beauty.

Some items should rarely, if ever be touched, but for those that do need cleaning remember the following:

  • Keep textiles out of direct sunlight which will fade and degrade them over time.
  • Wood and ivory are particularly sensitive to heat and humidity. Keep them away from fireplaces, vents or windows, bathrooms and other very moist or very dry locations. Maintaining an overall home temperature of about 75 degrees and 55% humidity is often cited as ideal. Install a hygrometer to monitor humidity or a household humidifying and dehumidifying unit. Remember, basements and attics are subject to wide disparities in temperature change.
  • For fragile items, two hands are always better than one and should only be picked up at their strongest point, usually a base of some kind.
  • For antique or heavy furniture, get help to move by lifting, never dragging or shoving, which can create damage to the structural integrity of the piece.
  • Install a smoke detector, not just a heat detector, nearby your precious objects and art. Smoke is not just deadly to humans, but incredibly damaging to artwork. As well, avoid hanging valuable artwork over a fireplace.
  • The usual household cleaners can damage artwork seek the advice of an art conservator if in the least doubt about these.
  • If something does break, let your housekeeper or children know that the best thing to do is tell you immediately. Explain to them that the tiniest of pieces are valuable in the event of an accident and not to try to simply vacuum up precious minuscule shards and remnants.
  • Maintain an inventory with photographs or video and store it outside your home, such as in a safe deposit box.

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