Avoiding Common Mistakes When Transporting Art During A Move

Avoiding Common Mistakes When Transporting Art During A Move

When it comes to moving, transporting art can be one of the most nerve-wracking aspects. Artwork is often delicate, valuable, and, most importantly, irreplaceable. Any slight error could lead to irreversible damage. However, many common mistakes can be easily avoided with careful planning and preparation. Here are some practical tips from Fine Art Shippers, an NYC-based specialized art shipping company, to help you safeguard your precious artworks during a move.

Lack of Prior Assessment

One of the most common oversights in art transportation is the failure to assess the artwork beforehand. Every piece of art is unique, with its distinct properties and vulnerabilities. Before any move, it’s crucial to thoroughly evaluate each item. Consider factors such as material, size, shape, age, and fragility. This will help you decide on the appropriate packaging, transport method, and, if necessary, seek professional advice or services.

Skipping an Inventory

Documenting your collection is an integral part of the process. Take high-resolution photographs of each piece from multiple angles, capturing any existing damage. This will act as a reference in case of any mishaps during the move. Compile a detailed inventory that includes information such as the artist’s name, medium, dimensions, condition, and value of each piece.

Improper Packing

Art pieces, particularly fragile ones, require more than just a cardboard box and a wrap. Packing is an art in itself, demanding more than just basic supplies. The right materials can provide the cushioning and protection needed to absorb any shocks or impacts during the move.

Use acid-free tissue paper or art plastic to wrap your artworks to prevent any chemical reactions that could cause discoloration. Bubble wrap should only be used as a secondary layer, as it can leave impressions on your artwork. For paintings, consider using glassine paper instead of regular plastic wrap: this paper is air, water, and grease-resistant, offering superior protection. Reinforced cardboard corners are advisable for framed pieces to prevent any accidental knocks. Consider custom wooden crates for high-value or incredibly delicate pieces; they offer robust protection.

For sculptures and other three-dimensional pieces, sturdy crates with custom padding that fits the form of the art is a good idea. The goal is to ensure that the artwork remains immobile within its packaging during transit.

Neglecting Climate Control

Art is exceptionally susceptible to changes in temperature and humidity. Rapid changes can cause expansion and contraction, leading to warping, cracking, or mold growth. If your journey involves crossing different climatic zones or the artworks are to be stored for any period, it’s highly recommended that you use climate-controlled vehicles. 

Poor Loading Practices

Regardless of how well you pack, poor loading practices can result in damage. Avoid stacking artwork; instead, stand framed pieces upright, ideally securing them to the sides of the vehicle. Never place heavy items on top of or against your artwork. Your aim should always be to minimize movement within the transport vehicle. 

No Insurance Coverage

Despite all precautions, accidents can happen, and having no insurance coverage is a serious, yet common mistake. Before moving, check your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance to see if it covers goods in transit. If not, you may need to purchase additional coverage or use professional movers who provide insurance options. Remember to take clear photos of your artwork and keep any receipts or appraisals as proof of their value.

Underestimating the Value of Professionals

If your collection includes high-value or incredibly delicate pieces, hiring professional art shippers is a worthy investment. These professionals are trained in best practices for art packing, art transportation, and art installation. They have the experience and the specialized equipment necessary to handle valuable art. While it might seem like an unnecessary expense, consider the potential cost of damage or loss to your artwork. 

Rushing the Process

Finally, one of the most common mistakes is rushing the process. Packing and moving art requires time and patience. Each piece needs individual attention and care. Allow enough time to appropriately pack, arrange for the right transport, and carefully unpack at your new location. 

Don’t rush to hang your artwork immediately after the move. Give it some time to acclimate to the conditions in your new home, especially if there’s a significant change in climate or altitude. When you’re ready to hang your artwork, keep it away from direct sunlight, sources of heat or cold, and high-traffic areas where it could be accidentally damaged.

Again, when it comes to unpacking and installing valuable and delicate items, hiring specialized art handlers would be a smart move. 

Moving Art: FAQs

Is it safe to move my art collection myself?

While it’s possible to move your collection yourself, doing so carries risks, especially for valuable or delicate pieces. Professional art movers have the training and equipment to ensure your artwork is moved safely. If your collection is small and less valuable, and you feel confident in your ability to pack and move the items carefully, a DIY approach may be feasible.

Do all moving companies offer fine art moving services?

Not all moving companies specialize in moving artwork. It’s essential to ask potential movers about their experience and techniques for moving fine art.

What should I do if my artwork is damaged during the move?

If you notice any damage to your artwork after the move, contact your insurance provider immediately. Provide them with your inventory, photographs, and any other documentation to support your claim.

How can I estimate the cost of moving my art collection?

The cost will depend on several factors, including the size and value of the collection, distance of the move, packing requirements, and whether you hire professional art movers. For a more precise estimate, you may need to consult a moving company.


Moving art is a task that requires meticulous planning and care. Avoiding these common mistakes will not only help protect your artwork but also provide you with the peace of mind knowing that your precious pieces are safe. With the right approach, you can ensure that your artwork arrives at its new home in the same condition it left the old one. Happy moving!


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