Ensuring Safety in Art Transportation

When artists create paintings their focus is typically on topics of aesthetics. Concerns over the substrate, ground, painting materials and the overall durability or integrity of the job are usually either built into the functioning style, or not. Typically, last one of the concerns for the job is its stability in regards to its storage and/or shipping. An artist might have appeared at any given painting countless times to ensure it meets certain standards of this series, event, or new owner; however, in order for your job to survive, it’s vital to check out the job from the unusual perspective of the Agency. How fragile is this job? How heavy is it? What are the measurements? Are there any particular concerns for this thing that have to be considered? Successfully hauling art hinges on several important factors. Understanding what type of things can go wrong and what precautionary measures must be taken, will greatly reduce possible issues.

Paintings assembled with acrylic artist paints look indestructible in comparison to many more delicate painting mediums such as gouache, watercolor, encaustics and tempera, or drawing mediums such as pastels or charcoal. The usual understanding of the benefit of oil paints over oil is that they won’t suffer the problems brought on by oil paints’ embrittlement with time. Under many circumstances, acrylic paintings remain flexible and have the ability to withstand considerable abuse. It’s just this feeling of ease of care that artists have thought, which has resulted in carelessness and caused significant problems when moving or transporting acrylic paintings.There are many helpful resources for musicians to consult before transporting and packaging works. This issue of simply paint provides some excerpts from these resources. The objective of this guide isn’t to recreate those tools, which are abundant with examples and hints, but to examine some of the substantial issues with works done in acrylic which may not be covered within this compilation of literature.

What’s being protected?

Acrylic paintings have a lot of unique features that create value for a fine artists’ medium, but these characteristics may also be significant factors for concern in addressing the moving and packaging of the paintings. Under most environmental conditions, acrylic paintings are extremely flexible, which radically reduces the possibility of cracking in the majority of situations, yet the cost paid for this flexibility is a milder film; one which may be scratched, scuffed and marred easily. This is even more of a challenge when working with really matte or underbound acrylic paintings (meaning overloaded with pigment or other solids, exceeding the vital ratios of pigment to binder). Another property of the flexible paint is the comparative permeable nature of the waterborne acrylic. This property allows for pollutants or dirt to become embedded (particularly in a fresher film). Finally, the most crucial property of the acrylic picture (again especially representative of new films) is the possible tackiness of the surface.

The character of the oil surface leads to one inevitable conclusion: that for an acrylic painting, it’s crucial to protect the painting’s surface. Perhaps this is obvious to every reader up to now, but instead of oil paint films where the greatest threat is fracturing the painting’s picture, protecting the oil painting does require at least some different factors. Although protecting the painting’s surface has to be the primary directive for packaging and transport acrylic paintings, it doesn’t provide for all the necessary considerations.

Acrylic paint films become brittle at low temperatures, usually around 40° F. Transit by air cargo or in unheated trucks in cold winter weather can result in cracked paint films due to vibration during transit. The obvious way to avoid this problem is to send in a temperature controlled truck, but of course other things like time management need to be factored in too. In the case of shipment by air, measures must be taken to ensure that the paint coating doesn’t vibrate during transit. Using a rigid backing board will sufficiently dampen transit vibrations.

Physical Considerations of Art

How a painting is assembled is vital in determining the potential procedur es of transportation.

A canvas can be transported either stretched or unstretched and so, it’s important to take into account the consequences of the two. A rolled canvas may ship more easily and cost effectively, but when it arrives it will need to be unrolled and re-stretched — both activities may damage the art. Rolled, the surface is apparently protected, yet in this condition, care must be taken to prevent the potential of this painting surface picking up fibers in the overlying canvas. If the stretched canvas is to be transferred, the back and surface must be guarded and the corners must have the ability to maintain an impact from managing. Additionally, if the job is hauled in cold weather, provisions must be made for reducing shock to the painting surface.

A panel painting or functions attached to stiff board will also want the corners and surface protected and though it’s significantly protected from vibration, it is going to need to potentially withstand different objects being piled on top of it.

The age of art is also of significance during moving.

While acrylics dry very fast, they could take much longer to completely cure. Film thickness, materials used and environmental factors determine the time necessary for paint films to heal. An uncured acrylic movie will be softer and more prone to blocking and ferrotyping, while an older, more fully treated piece will be less prone to damage through art packing and crating services.

The Effect of Paint Film Curing During Shipment

There are four stages involved in the drying of oil paint films. The first stage is a paint film retains its shape as it cures. If a partially treated painting is rolled up for transport and remains rolled while the piece cures, it is going to be very tricky to level out the canvas when unrolled. This rolled film will be more likely to crack because it is unrolled, particularly under lower temperatures. Folded paintings would suffer much more so.the first evaporation of water occurring at a linear rate, during which the paint stays wet and workable. The next phase begins as the oil solids in the piece become more compacted. In the third phase of drying, the acrylic polymer solids — more or less spherical in form — start deforming because of capillary action brought on by the flow of water into the surface, thus eliminating interstitial region and forming a constant, honeycomb like construction. At this time, the paint film feels dry to the touch. The final stage of drying involves the last evaporation of water and coalescing solvent, particle compaction, together with chain entanglement of the polymer solids, forming a continuous film. Critical properties like adhesion, hardness and hardness aren’t completed until the movie is totally cured. An acrylic piece is at its greatest risk during this curing process.If the art is sent before the paint was allowed to fully cure, many negative scenarios can happen. Since the paint film is still growing, it has the best possibility of sticking to anything and everything with which it comes in contact. Packing materials such as glassine and cardboard can get permanently secured to the paint surface. Two paintings facing and connected with each other can quickly become bonded together, probably resulting in the harm of both surfaces. Furthermore, a new paint film is more likely to attract dust and dirt particles which will possibly become permanently embedded in the paint film. Thick paint films can create cracks and crazes during extreme movement when curing. Cold temperatures can damage the film formation process and might even lead to early delamination. Temperatures under 49° F don’t allow for the correct alignment and deformation of the polymers.

Packing Artwork For Shipping

A brand new set of parameters is made whenever art is transported. The best shipping method for any acrylic painting is one where nothing is allowed to touch the surface of the artwork. It can’t be stressed enough that majority of damage in transport happens because something came in contact with the painting surface, causing one or more of these types of damage:


  • The transfer of touching from the packaging materials to the surface of the painting.
  • Sheen alteration in large spots.
  • Unwanted texture made on smooth surfaces, or the opposite.

Back and Forth Movement Across the Painting Surface Marring

  • Burnished matte surfaces
  • Physical loss of paint
  • Blocking/Materials sticking to the surface
  • Paper, plastic and other packaging items physically attaching to the painting surface.
  • Attempting removal can pull up paint or damage substrates.
  • Most likely permanent damage


  • This generally requires sharp effect to substrate or surface at temperatures below 45° F.
  • This may also happen when a painting, still drying, receives a gentle effects.

If you need your paintings to get the best opportunity for longevity, place each painting into its individual travel crate. This eliminates the chance for surface contact, promising a greater possibility that the art will arrive without disability. Careful planning and packing increases the chance that the support will also stay undamaged. Needless to say, this is also the most expensive way of packaging and transportation, and true, artists must make important compromises in shipping. Nevertheless it must at least be a significant consideration before going to lower protective techniques.

Packing Cases For Art

For a packing case to be effective, it must meet these functions:

  • Confirm the painting, insulation and cushioning foams
  • Protect the contents from impact and puncture without serious distortion
  • Maintain a sealed environment
  • Protect against intrusion of moisture
  • Provide handles for lifting and moving
  • Survive a multi-venue tour without compromise of any of the above functions

Case Dimensions and Size Limitations

The loudness of the case depends upon the size and number of paintings to be packaged, depth of thermal insulation and thickness of cushioning materials utilized. The kind and volume of foam materials to be utilised in the packing case has to be determined before case construction. There are limits to the size case which may be accommodated by transportation vehicles. For measurement and weight requirements contact the community transportation service regarding asset management.

Case Materials

Most cases are still constructed from plywood, which has inherent advantages over aluminum and fiberglass. Plywood has a high strength-to-weight ratio, provides some insulation, some relative humidity flowing, and is relatively cheap.

Puncture Resistance

If plywood is used as a construction material, the thickness of the plywood has a substantial influence on the puncture resistance of the surfaces of the case. Plywood thicknesses between 3/8 inch and 1/2 inch are generally found on small-to-medium sized instances up to 72 inches. Plywood thicknesses around 3/4 inches are located in the larger instances.

Impact Resistance and Structural Rigidity

The construction methods of the situation, especially where materials are combined, have a substantial effect on the strength in addition to the rigidity of the situation. A case having corners and edges which are well joined can have more than ten times the strength and one-hundred times the rigidity of a case that has corners and borders which are poorly joined. It’s strongly recommended that the borders and corners be equally glued and screwed together.

Provisions for Lifting

For instances light enough to be raised by a couple of individuals, handholds should be provided on the circumstance. For cases requiring mechanical methods of lifting, like forklifts, blocks (skids) ought to be provided that enable the forklift tines to slip beneath the instance.

Case Stability and Topple Resistance

Large packing cases containing one painting can be narrow and high. This can make them more unstable and likely to topple even though slightly jarred. Provisions should be made to prevent such mishaps.

Vibration and Shock Protection For Canvas Paintings


It’s a good idea to attach backboards to the opposite of all paintings to decrease the potential of damage due to puncture, vibration and shock. A rigid backing board will enclose an air cavity behind the painting. For that reason, the painting’s tendency to vibrate is decreased because of the stiffening effect of air trapped between the backboard and the reverse of the painting canvas.

  • A flexible backboard may have limited efficacy. Relatively stiff materials are best for backboards, or procuring the middle of a flexible backboard into the cross braces on larger works.
  • Large stretchers normally have crossbars. Several little pieces of the backboard material ought to be cut and attached to every open rectangle bordered by crossbars and outer stretcher members, if at all possible.

Backboard with Foam

During handling and transportation, slack canvases on big paintings can hit the crossbars of the stretchers. This can be prevented by attaching pieces of foam into the backboard.

  • The foam should be quite near the rear of the canvas without actually touching it.
  • A low-density polyester urethane foam works well as it’s soft and relatively lightweight. Polyester urethane foams aren’t chemically stable and shouldn’t be left behind the painting for lengthy periods. Several factors influence the speed of the foam’s deterioration, which makes it impossible to gauge how long the foam can remain behind the painting.
  • The foam can be attached to the backboard with double-stick tape or hot glue. The foam must be securely attached to make sure that there’s not any possibility of it pulling away from the backboard and coming in direct contact with the canvas.
  • The backboard should be secured to the stretcher with screws.

Stretcher Lining

Stretcher lining is a process developed by Peter Booth in the Tate Gallery for reducing the vibration of a canvas painting. It involves attaching into the opposite of the first stretcher a fresh piece of cloth, rather a thin but exceptionally stiff fabric like polyester sailcloth. The painting isn’t in any way disturbed. The procedure shouldn’t be confused with the procedure conservators predict “lining,” that is a process where the original canvas is stuck to a different fabric to be able to fortify it.With the cloth in position, there is less chance of crossbar-related cracks growing through effect, as a continuous surface, in place of the crossbar borders, would be reached. A further advantage was demonstrated in vibration tests demonstrating a marked decrease in canvas displacement in response to low-frequency vibration.

Method of Attaching the Stretcher Lining:

  • Cut a piece of fabric approximately the same size as the painting.
  • Temporarily attach it to the back of the stretcher with a few staples.
  • Cut out curved parts of the fabric to permit space for the crossbar(s) and wedges (stretcher keys).
  • Remove the principles to free the substance which ought to be folded and inserted between the canvas and crossbar(s).
  • When the cloth is unfolded and properly positioned, attach cloth along the borders to the back surface of the stretcher.
  • Stretch the fabric when attaching it.

Shipping Collar

Museums often use a delivery collar to secure their paintings as they understand the importance of investment in art more than regular couriers. The wooden collar adds rigidity to the structure and a backing board can be connected to the back of the collar. The collar should project beyond the surface of the painting so a rigid cover of foam core can be attached to the surrounding collar without touching the surface of the painting. The whole bundle of collar, backboard, and face cover can then be wrapped in plastic without fear of harm to the painting surface.

Soft Packing

If gentle packaging is preferred, then it ought to be restricted to local moves with an added asset tracking system to ensure efficient moving of the artwork. The National Gallery of Art urges a wooden collar or journey frame ought to be attached to the reverse of the painting or frame for security. Nothing must touch the surface of the painting. Any materials used to wrap it ought to be held above the surface and made from non-abrasive materials. Foam should be used around the painting to Provide temperature insulation and shock protection.One trend in art transportation that must be acknowledged is the increasing use of soft packing, as the price of the related shipment of paintings raises. Soft packing is typical for graphic functions such as drawings and prints and the practice has spread from commercial artists and galleries to museums. Soft packaging is the replacement of plywood sided cases, with one using foam or cardboard sides.No work of art ought to be soft packaged unless the institution is willing to risk major harm. Also, while there’s extensive knowledge in packaging that is soft, there has been little scientific study into how the very best protection can be provided at minimal price.

Rolling Paintings

Naturally, there will be times when rolling up a painting is the only way to transport work, but the following tips can help minimize risks:

  • Allow sufficient time for the paint film to totally cure.
  • Put an interleaf of polyethylene plastic no less than 4 ml thick on the surface of the canvas prior to rolling. It needs to be cleaned of release agents, dust and other contaminants. Don’t use bubble wrap, plastic wrap or thin plastics for this purpose, since they will probably ferrotype the painting surface.
  • Roll and unroll paintings at room temperature. Rolling while cold might lead to cracking, particularly in thick paint films.
  • Roll relatively loosely to decrease the probability of ferrotyping or adhesion.
  • Roll with the paint film facing outward. Rolling with the paint film facing inward increases tension by causing compression of the paint film.
  • Once packaged, tape firmly, but not too closely.
  • Roll up the canvas as equally as possible.
  • Use a cardboard center six inches or higher. Tighter rolling raises the compression of the movie.
  • Place the rolled canvas into a larger tube. Use additional packing material to guarantee that the inner tube fits snugly in the bigger tube.
  • Whenever possible, the tube should be kept upright to decrease weight on any particular side. This is quite significant for large canvases.
  • Don’t store paintings wrapped up for long periods of time. Unroll the painting as soon as reasonably possible.
  •    Sonotubes® are a product used by a number of artists who roll their art for transportation. Sonotubes® are available at www.sonoco.com.

Marking Containers and Unpacking Instructions

If the painting will be opened by someone besides the sender, an envelope with explicit directions for unpacking and repacking should be recorded to the outside of the container. The taped envelope should read, “To prevent damage, read before unpacking,” or something similar. These directions become invaluable if there’s a dispute about any damage occurring during transport, unpacking or repacking following an exhibit. Make certain to advocate that all packaging materials be stored together with the crate(s). Do not assume that the individual who unpacks are the exact same person to repack the art. If the painting has been sent to a different country, it’s critical that documentation in languages of these countries be used, in order that an unwary inspector doesn’t open a container without appropriate precautions.