Today wraps up a month of Design 101 dedicated to Art. As always, we like to finish the month with insight on care & maintenance of your home. For the best tips on keeping your art collection in tiptop shape, we turned to art consultant Kristin Gary. Kristin Gary Fine Art specializes in European Old Masters, 19th century European, American 20th Century, and select Contemporary works of art.
With Kristin's help and expertise, we were able to pull together our favorite tips for caring for your artwork:
In a museum, the environment is controlled by temperature and humidity to preserve artwork. While you may not have the same climate controls at home, you can still try to create an environment that is optimum for your collection. Ideally, room temperatures should be somewhere between 66 – 70 degrees with a relative humidity between 40-50%. If possible, the fluctuation between temperature degrees and humidity levels should not fluctuate more that 5% per day.
You can also preserve your art by selecting a safe location for display.
Some things to consider:
- Interior walls offer a more stable environment than exterior walls.
- Open windows will have more fluctuation in temperature and humidity levels.
- Walls that have air vents, radiators, and fireplaces will be more hot and dry than other walls.
- Kitchen and bathroom walls can be warm and damp.
- Attics or basements that are poorly insulated can be susceptible to outside conditions.
- Maintaining a ventilation gap between a piece of art and the wall will help.
- Humidifiers and dehumidifiers can help level humidity within a room. Controlling high humidity is especially important if your painting is on a panel.
- Close the back of the work to prohibit dust from entering.
- Keep art away from direct sunlight. Sunlight is killer.
- Mat and back works on paper with museum quality, acid free paper.
We have heard some crazy theories on cleaning art, but we like to keep things simple:
- Do not use any type of solvent to clean.
- Use a feather duster to remove surface dirt. No paper towels!
- Varnishes can yellow over time and will require professional intervention.
- Smoky environments will do major damage to your art. The air will stain works on paper and paintings.
- If you’re cleaning plexiglass, try a plastic cleaner rather than glass cleaner. Use a soft, non-abrasive cloth and spray the cleaner on the cloth rather than directly on the plexiglass.
The American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works offers some great advice on caring and conservation of artwork. When you invest in a piece of art, we highly recommend you do a little research on their website to ensure you’ll be able to enjoy your collection for years to come.
Earlier this month, one of our readers asked how to clean one of her paintings that was starting to look murky. Thanks for the feedback, VG!
Kristin Gary Fine Art offered the following advice:
“Paintings look "murky" when the varnish, after many years, becomes dirty. This can happen from normal dust/dirt/pollutants or if the work hangs in a house where people smoke. Smoke will definitely yellow a varnish.
The best thing to do is bring the work to a paintings conservator. They will first examine the work, decide what needs to be done and then give you a quote. The age and condition of the painting will determine how much a conservation treatment will cost which can all be worked out before the process begins. To find a restoration professional, you can consult either an art gallery in your area that deals in similar pieces, a museum or the American Institute for Conservation. As always, if you don't feel comfortable with the first opinion, get a second one!"