How To Clean And Maintain Your Own Fine Art The Right Way
A fine art collection is a great investment that you and your loved ones can enjoy for years to come provided you take good care of your pieces. However, left neglected, paintings, prints, photographs and sculptures are all susceptible to damage and deterioration over time. By following these simple steps, you can keep your fine art pieces in the best possible condition so they can be passed down through the generations.
Handle With Care
It should go without saying that you should always wash your hands before handling any piece of art. But in fact, it is even better if you don’t handle the piece directly at all because oils from your skin could damage the piece. The best method of handling an artwork is to use gloves while moving or cleaning it, or to only handle the piece by its frame or stretcher boards.
Mind the Temperature
Try not to hang or store your artworks in places that fluctuate between extreme temperatures, as this can cause them to warp, crack or split. Places to be wary of are under air conditioners, over radiators, or next to fireplaces. If you have to move your artworks from a very hot place to a very cold place or vice versa, try to acclimatize the works gradually to prevent damage. If storing your pieces, you may want to invest in a climate controlled space.
Be Light Sensitive
Just like UV rays can damage our skin, they can also damage the ‘skin’ of your artwork. Direct UV light can cause the colours of paintings, prints and photographs to fade, and it can cause varnishes to turn an unsightly colour of yellow. Likewise, bright lights can also have a damaging effect on your art. Try to hang or display your piece in a place where it gets only indirect sunlight or illumination from non-UV lights that are far enough away that they don’t heat up the piece.
Drier Is Better
Water is the number one enemy of art, which is why you should never place your art in a place where water damage could occur. Humidity is also a no-no, as this can cause mould or discolouration. When displaying your art, try to find a spot where there is no chance of water damage (ie. away from open windows, air conditioners, and steamy bathrooms). A dehumidifier is also a great way to minimize moisture.
Clean With Care
As a general rule of thumb, you should check on your artworks at least two times a year to make sure there is no damage to the frame or the piece, and to take care of any dust or debris. When cleaning your pieces, never use a damp cloth or any type of cleaning product, as this will definitely damage your art. Use a soft, dry cloth or a brush with soft, natural fibres.
If you have to store your artworks, be sure to choose a place that is not too hot, not too cold, and definitely not humid. Climate controlled spaces work best. Also be sure to pack your artworks in acid free paper or wrappings, and store them flat and up off the ground to reduce the risk of water damage or pests.