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How to Wrap Artwork for Moving

When my step-father-in-law passed away, and my ex-mother-in-law, a senior, was moving across Oakland County, closer to the area of Michigan where I live, there were so many pieces of valuable art that we had to consider first and foremost. Considering such things as but not limited to:

  • Packing materials needed to safely store artwork for prolonged periods: Breathable materials – tissue paper, blankets, and wood crating
  • Packing materials for transport only: Bubble wrap, foam, or plastic are sufficient only in short travels as these materials could potentially trap moisture and create condensation over time, damaging the artwork
  • Who is qualified and will do the packing
  • Who the moving company would be that could handle such delicate and valuable items
  • Should we consider selling the items of art before the official moving day
  • Which art pieces had the most emotional or sentimental value and needed more extended consideration
  • Are there other family members who would like any of the artwork before selling or moving

Step one: Always consult a professional first! After that, here are some other simple steps to consider when wrapping artwork to move:

  1. Cover with glassine or plastic wrap for protection
  2. Sandwich work between foam boards or corner protectors
  3. Use bubble wrap for cushioning and secure with tape
  4. For framed pieces, cardboard sheets add extra support
  5. Label and pack upright in a sturdy box

Further on down in this article, we will list ten more critical aspects you must consider when moving and wrapping artwork. For now, let’s find out about estate sales.

Who appraises artwork for estate sales?

One of my closest friends owns an eclectic home goods store, and part of her specialty is helping seniors and empty nesters downsize and simplify their lives. Most of the time, this entails some type of estate sale. For some items that she is interested in for her store, her clients either give to her as a thank you or let her have first buying rights. And then sometimes, there are pieces of art or antiques that she does not have the credentials to appraise or put a cost to, so she hires an art appraiser.

An art appraiser is a professional who assesses the monetary value of artwork. They could work for people like my friend or museums on a commercial level, possibly for an insurance company adding a rider to their client’s policy, or private individuals looking to divide an estate up, such as in a divorce. A professional will be highly familiar with many styles of art as well as the market value of those pieces and be highly keen on identifying false or forged artwork.

According to Home Advisor, “When you hire an appraiser, you pay for their time and expertise. Appraisers usually use one of three methods to set their rate:

  • Hourly rate: the most common method that appraisers use to charge for their services, ranging from $25 an hour to over $300 an hour
  • Per piece: usually applies when there are several pieces to appraise but not a complete collection, typically $200 to $300 per piece
  • Flat fee: often used for an extensive collection of items or artworks, where the price is dependent on the extent of the collection,”.

How do art appraisers determine value?

An appraiser will take into account a number of factors when determining the value of an artwork, such as its condition, provenance, and market demand. Home Advisor also mentioned four different values an art appraiser will need to consider, and they are defined as:

Fair Market Value is an estimated price at which an artwork would change hands between a willing buyer and seller, both having reasonable knowledge of the relevant facts and neither under compulsion to buy or sell.

Market Value is the current price at which a piece of art can be bought or sold in the open market.

Replacement Value is how much would it would cost to replace an artwork with another of similar age, quality, and condition, often used for insurance purposes.

Liquidation Value is an approximate cost at which the artwork would sell quickly, usually in a forced sale or auction scenario, when time is of the essence.

As you can see, this is not an overnight matter and should be given a lot of research, time, and consideration when hiring a professional appraiser, someone to facilitate and run an estate sale, and how to know when to sell or keep the artwork.

How to wrap artwork for moving

In conclusion, handling the relocation of treasured artwork is complex, but with meticulous planning, you can ensure the safe transit and continued preservation of these valuable items.

As promised, here are the ten more aspects one must consider when moving and wrapping artwork:

  • Climate Control: Ensure that the moving truck or storage facility is climate-controlled. Extreme temperatures or fluctuations in humidity can cause severe damage to artwork, especially pieces on canvas or paper.
  • Insurance: It’s crucial to have insurance for your valuable items. Check if your moving company offers insurance or if you need to arrange separate coverage. Document the condition of each piece with photographs before packing as proof for any potential claims.
  • Customized Cratin: For particularly valuable or fragile pieces, consider custom-built crates. These crates can provide extra protection and are designed specifically to fit your artwork.
  • Labeling: Clearly label each package not just with “Fragile” but also with details such as “Top Load Only” or “Keep Upright.” This helps movers handle each piece appropriately and avoid potential damages.
  • Transport Route Planning**: Discuss the transport route with the moving company. Minimizing the amount of rough terrain or high-traffic areas can reduce the risk of damage during transit.
  • Handling Guidelines: Provide the movers with proper handling guidelines for each piece. This ensures that they know precisely how to handle the artwork, especially if tilt, shock, or vibration can cause damage.
  • Documentation and Inventory: Make a complete inventory list of all artworks being moved. Include descriptions, dimensions, and any relevant historical or financial details.
  • Display Methods: Note how each piece should be displayed or stored in the new location. Sometimes, installing artwork also requires professional assistance to ensure it’s hung correctly and securely.
  • Unpacking Protocol: Unpacking artwork requires as much care as packing. Establish a procedure for unwrapping, inspecting, and setting up each piece to prevent any post-move damage.
  • Backup Options: Have a contingency plan in case there are delays or unexpected issues during the move. Know the nearest reputable storage facilities or art conservation experts that you can call upon if needed.

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