Shipping fine art can be a complicated task. The work of art must be packaged properly, shipped safely, and protected. In order to make sure a piece arrives at its destination safely, correct packaging materials must be used, and the work must be insured properly. Some choose to hire specialized art handlers and shippers to ensure that their work gets to its destination safely.
It is important that proper packaging materials be used for shipping fine art. While some materials are safe to come into contact with works of art, others are not. White linen and cotton fabric or batting are safe choices as are ropes and ties that are nonabrasive and are not dyed. Some plastics are safe to use, but others can become unstable when subjected to the heat or humidity a piece of work may encounter while being shipped on a long trip.
One example of an unstable plastic that is often used in packaging is bubble wrap. When in direct contact with stained wood in a warm, humid environment, bubble wrap can damage the finish on a piece of art. If bubble wrap or other plastic is used, the object should first be wrapped in a layer or fabric or linen so that the plastic never comes in direct contact with the piece.
In order to ensure that a work of art is packaged in the best way, it is wise to consult an art handler. Art handlers have specific experience in moving, shipping, and transporting art, and they know the best way to package pieces of art to minimize damage during shipping. Most museums and galleries have their own art handlers.
Depending on the distance the piece needs to be moved as well as the size and value of the work, the best method of shipping fine art may be through a specialized art shipping service. These services often provide trucks that are especially equipped to move pieces of art and that are often climate controlled so that the artwork is not adversely affected by changes in temperature or humidity during the trip. These services also provide security, guaranteeing that the artwork will never be left unaccompanied during the trip. They also take great care to monitor the exact location of each package while shipping fine art.
It is not uncommon for artists or curators to insure their work before shipping fine art. Art insurance is available through a number of vendors, some specializing in protecting fine art. If shipping a less expensive item, insurance may instead be available through the shipping company itself.