Moving cross-country is no easy feat. It takes careful planning, thorough organization, and meticulous packing. Personal belongings can break when you move around the corner, therefore extra care needs to be taken when driving hundreds, if not thousands, of miles across the United States. Artwork, whether a cheap poster or a valuable limited-edition print, needs to be packaged fastidiously to endure the multiday event and arrive in one piece.
1. Keep the Glass in Place: While even the first-time mover knows that artwork with glass will have to be packaged carefully to avoid breaking the glass, a professional moving company knows to take it one step further. Place a large X on moving or packaging tape across the glass from frame corner to frame corner. This will not prevent the glass from breaking, but it will prevent the broken shards from wrecking havoc on your print. Loose pieces of broken glass can move around on the surface of your art during the move and damage it. The tape trick keeps all those shards in place. Glass is easy to replace, but artwork is often irreplaceable.
2. Protect the Canvas: When you to move paintings or other art created on canvas, different measures need to be taken. While there is no glass to break, the canvas is much more fragile than it appears. Elbows, cabinets corners, and car doors can all bump the canvas and cause a dimple in the material. While it can be repaired and restretched by the staff at most fine-art museums, the cost is great. The simple act of placing a full sheet of cardboard on either side of the canvas and securely wrapping everything can help avoid unexpected damaging bumps to the canvas.
3. Lean Front to Front and Back to Back: Frames also need to be protected. Wrapping the entire piece, including the frame, in a moving blanket, Bubble Wrap, or other soft material is helpful, but your diligence shouldn't stop there. The pros know that when leaning framed artwork against each other, they need to be placed front to front or back to back. The hardware on the back of the frame that is used to hang it can scratch the surface of another frame, even when wrapped. Taking the time to lean them in such a manner is just one extra step of protection to take before a cross-country move.
4. Store Upright: Art needs to be stored upright for two reasons. The first is rather obvious in that the weight on the bottom piece of art could damage the frame or even cause the glass to break. The second reason is only known to the pros. Limited-edition prints, as well as original art on paper, are not permanently affixed to a backing, but they rather hang loosely in the matting via archival tape. The hinge, or T-hinge, is an acid-free tape that allows the art to hang securely without damaging the piece or, in turn, reducing its value to a collector. If stored sideways or upside-down, the hinge will break and the print inside could be damaged. Storing hinged artwork upright -- and in the right direction -- maintains the integrity of this particular type of mounting method.
5. Use Custom Boxes: Many moving companies sell high-end boxes for packaging valuable items, like plasma televisions and artwork. These boxes come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but all have a cushioned, foam interior to protect the contents during moving or shipping. While you could purchase a version that is custom-fitted to your item, many boxes offer a foam interior that automatically molds to the shape of your art instead.
6. Check with Your Insurance Agent: Insurance can be a sticky issue that leaves the question of who is responsible for what during a cross-country move. The pros know that you should do your homework before you tape the first box shut. Many moving companies offer coverage as part of their overall pricing, but the coverage often does not extend to boxes not packed by their team. Likewise, your homeowner's insurance may cover your items while inside your home but not once on the open road. Plus, both options may have a dollar maximum. If your art is valued at higher than that number, you may need to buy a rider policy to make up the difference. This is where organization is key. Take pictures of your art and framing before packing it. Keep the images as well as any certificates of authenticity or paperwork proving each piece's provenance in a separate folder with you during the move. No proof often means limited reimbursement.
If you do your homework and pack carefully, you cross-country move can be successful, both for you and your treasured art.