An often overlooked component of art collecting is how you protect your art. However, it is of vital importance. Arguably it is of equal importance to choosing what art to collect in the first place.
If you don’t take protection seriously, you run the chance of completely losing your investment.
Protection starts at home
Most art investors are proud of their collections and typically want to display it on the walls of their home, where they and their guests can encounter and appreciate it every day.
The problem with this, is that your collection may be severely devalued over time if not displayed without careful consideration as to how it may be exposed to harmful elements like sunlight, immoderate temperature, moisture, and pollution.
It is always good to remember that, as art collectors, we are effectively taking on the role of custodian for the art until we are ready to sell the artwork onward. We should be looking to maintain the art in the same (or better) condition in which we receive it to maximize our possible returns.
How do you limit sun exposure?
Sunlight, or more specifically, the UV rays in sunlight, are extremely harmful to artwork. UV rays can strip artwork of its vibrancy, degrading materials like pigment, canvas, paper, and ceramic.
If you display your art collection in your home, you should consider placing it away from your ideal spots and opt for darkened corners of the house or hallways and thoroughfares. As a general rule; the less natural sunlight, the better.
Obviously, you should avoid walls that receive intense and direct natural light at all costs. Not so obvious, is that you should keep track of what walls are touched by natural light as the seasons change; A wall that you believe is perfectly suitable in Spring may be unsuitable in Summer when the sun’s angle changes respective to your home.
How do you maintain optimal humidity and temperature?
Extreme or fluctuating temperatures and humidity are incredibly destructive for 2D works such as prints and paintings and 3D works made from materials that react to water or heat. Storing and displaying art in the wrong conditions can warp, stretch, and deform the art as they absorb and release moisture accordingly.
The ideal humidity to store artworks is between 40 – 50%, with temperatures in between 18 – 22 °C (64 -71°F) . The key thing to note is that you should maintain a consistent humidity and temperature to protect your art and avoid causing permanent damage like cracking.
Suppose you are not blessed to live in a naturally temperate home year-round (or equipped with central heating controls). In this case, you may have to invest in portable devices that can help you maintain moderate temperature and humidity levels in your home.
Depending on your local climate and how your home is insulated and ventilated, air conditioners, heaters, humidifiers, and de-humidifiers units can help you protect your art investments.
For interest: Many galleries maintain a relative humidity level of 45% with temperatures also around 18-22 °C . However, larger galleries or museums may run slightly colder. Not necessarily in consideration for protecting the artworks, but due to the consideration of the amount of humans entering the exhibition space bringing in heat.
How do you reduce pollutants in the air?
The downside of living in a city with easy access to galleries and museums, is that you are also exposed to heavy traffic and industries that release an pollutants into the air.
Eventually, these pollutants will make their way into your home and find their resting place upon your art.
Beyond the impractical solution of keeping all your windows and doors closed at all times, there are a few measures you can take to reduce the number of pollutants in the air in our home.
- Attach filter screens to windows that are proven to filter smog, car fumes and other fine dust.
- Air conditioners, heaters, and de-humidifiers can often be dual purpose, filtering pollutants as it works toward their goal of cooling, heating, or drawing moisture from the air.
- Regularly remove dust that has settled on your art with a non-abrasive cloth.
- Regularly remove dust that has settled on your other belongings (as they may be dislodged and end up on your art).
- Vacuum regularly
If all this sounds like too much work and overhead for you, there are hands-off solutions to art collecting that you might like to explore.
Art funds, which are becoming increasingly popular, give you the opportunity to own a fractional share in some of the most prized artworks in the world, without the worry or expense of handling such work. The benefits of Art funds could definitely fill their own article, but I would recommend you also take a look at Yieldstreet’s art funds, for one of the better performing alternative investment platforms available.