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What is the Best Way to Pack Antique Paintings?

  • Non-acidic plastic wrap/packing paper/Glassine
  • Bubble wrap®
  • Styrofoam
  • Stiff cardboard
  • String
  • Cardboard glass box
  • Styrofoam peanuts
  • Packing tape

Begin by removing the painting from the wall. Do not remove the canvas from the frame; the painting is to be packed the way it is. Just clean it up a little bit with a clean and dry soft cloth.

First wrap the painting and frame in non-acidic plastic wrap. Some plastic wraps and bubble wraps have acidic content and may react with the painting if they come in direct contact that will damage and ruin the painting. If you don’t have non-acidic plastic wrap, use packing paper or glassine. Glassine is similar to wax paper but is much larger. It is easily available at most movers. Wrap the painting loosely and secure the wrapping using string.

Next, cover the front and back of the painting with two sheets of stiff cardboard. This is to save the painting from any punctures that may occur during packing or unpacking.

To protect the corners, cut fairly thick L-shaped pieces from the Styrofoam sheet using a heated knife. Trim the pieces until they fit properly at the corners.

Using a single piece of bubble wrap®, wrap the entire painting. Place the painting face down on a bubble wrap® sheet and fold the sheet over the painting. It is better that two wrappings of bubble wrap® are done. Most painting frames are heavy and a double layer of Bubble wrap will give extra security.

Make sure that the Styrofoam pieces stay at their places as you secure the Bubble wrap with packing tape. It is perfectly fine to overwrap antique paintings because of their priceless value.

Prepare the glass box by placing Styrofoam peanuts at the bottom. Gently lower the wrapped painting until it rests comfortably on the cushioning. Place more peanuts at the edges till the painting is snug. Cushion the top with more peanuts and close and seal the box.

Mark the painting with “Handling: Extreme Care” so the movers can handle it carefully.

Paintings should always be placed upright on their edges. Laying a painting on its face makes it vulnerable to damage. The paintings should be kept in the lower area of the truck (where it is cooler) but nothing should be placed above them.

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