Original artwork on paper, fine art prints and photographs all need to be handled correctly and placed in a proper frame to preserve or increase the value of the work. Proper installation will enhance the appearance of a room and ensure your enjoyment of the work for years to come.
TIPS FOR PRESERVING AND APPRECIATING ART
Work with a good framer:
Select a framer who is knowledgeable and whom you trust. See ART 101: FRAMING SUGGESTIONS.
Art meets archival materials:
ALL paper or fabric that touches your art should be acid free, so make sure your framer uses archival materials. This also applies to the use of acid free mat board and hinges. If the work is oversize (larger than mat board), the framer may need to “piece together” and cover two pieces of mat board with an acid neutral fabric (special linen, silk, etc.). Acid free hinges should be used to attach art to mat board backing. Although archival materials will cost a bit more, the payoff down the road will make this a worthwhile investment.
Protecting your art with glass or acrylic:
Glass or plexi serves as a protective barrier against dust and damage to the art’s surface. Glass is the least expensive choice, while Museum Glass is among the most expensive. If the art is large, your framer may recommend using plexiglass or another acrylic material which is lighter than glass. (In some states, especially in those areas where earthquakes are an issue, the framer may be not be permitted to use glass on works over a certain size). Glass can be cleaned with glass cleaner, while plexi should always be cleaned with a special acrylic cleaner and a soft, clean cloth.
UV sun rays damage art:
Protecting art from damaging UV rays from the sun is a concern for all art curators and collectors. The same rays that fade fabric are very damaging to works on paper, especially if exposure is direct and extended. Certain types of photographs, such as palladium and platinum prints and some archival digital prints, are less light sensitive than others, but its best to assume the worse and install your work on a wall that does not get direct sunlight. If this is not possible, consider protecting your art by using UV glass UV acylic glass such as Plexiglass. UV glass on window, and drapes or blinds preventing the sun from hitting the art, are also options to reduce the amount of damaging light rays.
Handle art with care:
It’s is best to use gloves when handling artwork. Special cotton art gloves are worth the small expense if you plan to touch art — whether unpacking it or handling it for other reasons. (Soft plastic gloves will also work.) Gloves will protect the art from the natural oils on your hands, even if you’ve just washed your hands.
How to move unframed art:
Place art on a stiff surface such as a mat board cut larger than the art and move it by moving the board rather than the art itself. If this is not possible, pick up the art by diagonally opposite corners (i.e. top left and bottom right or top right and bottom left). This method will reduce the chance of “thumb creases” which can occur very easily and often cannot be removed.
How to store art:
If you are not framing art immediately, it is best to keep it in a safe, dark place where both humidity and temperatures do not reach an extreme. Make sure the piece is wrapped or covered from top to bottom with acid free paper or glassine. Rolled art ideally should be stored flat. Carefully unroll art and place weights such as books on each corner. This will “relax” the curl and allow the paper to rest and be restored to its original “memory.” Once flattened, art can be “sandwiched” between two acid free mat boards or foam core. Attach art to one of the sheets with paper corners to prevent it from moving. If you’re worried about handling your art, have your framer unpacked it professionally.
TIPS FOR INSTALLING YOUR ART
Many framers will supply you with art hooks appropriate to a specific piece of art. These hangers will be the right size to carry the weight of your art and will ensure that it will not fall from the wall. Be sure to let you framer know if you’re hanging art on a wall that is not sheet rocked (e.g. plaster, rock, wood, etc.), so that the proper hook can be provided and instructions given to secure the art while doing the least amount of damage to the wall. If the wall is plaster, placing removable tape in an “x” on the wall where the nail is to go in will help prevent the plaster from being chipped.
Keeping art straight:
If you hang your art with two hooks rather than one, you will not spend time straightening the art. Artworks installed with one hook seem to have a mind of their own and will often require straightening, which can become annoying very quickly!
Other installation ideas:
Some work can be hung off a wire while other pieces can be hung from “D” rings placed on the back left and right sides of the frame. The latter method is often preferred if the art is large or very heavy.
Calculating how high to hang art:
More often than not, art is installed too high. Many museums use a formula for calculating the correct height to allow optimal viewing. Depending upon ceiling height, the center of each piece of art should be between 54 inches and 57 inches from the floor. If your ceiling is 8 feet, center should probably be at 54 inches; with higher ceilings, you may want to consider placing the art so the center is at 56 or 57 inches.Here is the formula ARTprojectA suggests for hanging art consistently at the right height.
- Measure the vertical dimension of the art (including frame)
- Pull the wire up as if the art is hanging and measure the distance from where the wire will rest on the hook to the top of the frame. (Remember if you’re hanging by two hooks, hold the wire taut at two separate points.)
- Subtract the measurement of B (the wire pulled taut to the top of the frame) from A (the vertical dimension) and add that number to the number you selected between 54” and 57”.
- Measuring from the floor, your answer C, will tell you where the BOTTOM of the hook(s) should be placed.
ARTprojectA’s art tips will give you peace of mind knowing you are preserving your investment for years to come. Hopefully our installation tips will give you immediate confidence to quickly hang art of any size in any room.