One of the most frequently asked questions come from art collectors who want to know more about caring for their art at home. Following are answers to your most common questions.
When selecting a location to display your works of art, a number of factors should be kept in mind:
- Rooms where windows are open will suffer from greater fluctuations in temperature and relative humidity. Exterior walls will be either warmer or colder and damper than interior walls in the same room.
- As a rule kitchens and bathrooms tend to be unfavorably warm and damp for hanging works of art.
- Areas above or immediately adjacent to heat sources like fireplaces, air vents, and radiators can be hot and dry and suffer from wide fluctuations in temperature and humidity.
- Basements are often cool and unsuitably damp.
- Attics are often poorly insulated and can have extreme fluctuations of outside temperatures.
- Ventilation gaps left between each object and the wall will prevent excessive cooling and dampness.
- Automatic portable humidifiers and dehumidifiers can contribute greatly to the stabilization of the relative humidity in a room when appropriately sized for the space.
Minimizing Light Damage to Art
Protection from Light: Please do not hang or store your art where sunlight can affect it. Ultraviolet light is one of the biggest reasons that art fades. Light damage is cumulative and irreversible. Light is necessary to view art, but at the same time can damage many of the materials found in paintings and works of art on paper. Light can fade pigments, and cause paper and textiles to discolor or become brittle.
Tips for Home
When hanging works of art in your home, there are many things that you can do to minimize the damage caused by light.
- Locate your pictures so that they will not be exposed to direct light. For instance, the wall opposite a window will get direct light, while the wall beside a window will not.
- Do not use “picture lights” designed to attach to frames. In addition to over-lighting, these cause local heating that is also damaging to works of art.
- Use incandescent light, which has no UV component, to light works of art. Select low wattage bulbs and use a dimmer switch to set the lighting at the minimum level which allows you viewing comfort.
- If fluorescent lights are used, UV filtering should be incorporated either as sleeves or lenses over the source of the light, or by using UV absorbing Plexiglas to glaze the works.
If you are collecting paintings, photographs, framed drawings, and most sculpture made from a hard material – bronze, plastic, etc. – there are some basic rules to follow when cleaning your art.
Provided that there are no signs of loose or flaking paint, a painting may be safely dusted using a clean, soft, natural-hair artists’ brush (3.5cm to 5cm tip), a soft sable make up brush, badger hair or a soft white bristle Japanese brush. The painting should be positioned on a clean padded surface and held upright at a forward angle so the dust falls away from the face of the painting. Brushing is carried out slowly and very gently in one direction across or down the painting followed by a second brushing in the opposite direction.
Brushing painting having a matte surface (lean in binder or loaded with pigments) may burnish the painting and leave an undesirable glossy, permanent imprint. In this case, brushing should be avoided.
Never use dry or moist dust cloths, stiff bristle brushes, or feather dusters to dust a painting. Threads from dust cloths may catch on areas of raised paint, moisture may cause subsequent loss of paint, and both bristle-haired brushes and feather dusters can scratch the surface of a painting.
Pollutants and particles: If you live in an urban area, you know exactly what surface grime from exhaust looks like. And those of you in dry, dusty areas of the country know just how often you need to dust. Make sure not to forget the art!
Art behind plexi-glass or glass can be gently wiped with a damp soft cloth. What about those unframed pieces or pieces with no glass? If you can keep them AWAY from exposure to dirt, dust and pollutants, that is the safest way to protect them. A portable air cleaner can be used to attract and trap dust particles.
Use a plastic cleaner, not commercial glass cleaner, on Plexiglas. Apply the plastic cleaner with a soft non-abrasive cloth. NOTE: Spray the cleaning solution on the cloth, never directly onto glass or Plexiglas.