9 Common Tips to Extend the Longevity of a Collection
Gloria Velandia, Chief Conservator of Art Basel Miami Beach, offers nine important tips for preventive conservation.
1) Get in a conservation mindset. Accept that you will have to spend some amount of time, money, and effort on your collection. Whether you are motivated by a desire to maintain the integrity of your artworks, maximize the future value of an investment, or preserve your cultural heritage, start caring about the longevity of your collection!
2) Spend on framing. Have a trained conservator help you select suitable frames for your artworks in order to prevent using materials that will accelerate their degradation. Ask yourself these questions: do you know the type of glass utilized? Is it UV protected? Are the materials used behind the work of art filled with acidic gasses or outdated materials that can jeopardize the artworks over time?
3) Don’t rely on memory. Document your collection frequently with high definition photography to catch gradual fading or damage so you have accurate reference points for yourself and your conservator. This way you will avoid problems before it’s too late.
4) Know your environment. What are the temperature and relative humidity levels in rooms with your artworks? Are any of your artworks in areas where they are exposed to excessive or direct sunlight? Have your outdoor pieces been treated by a conservator with protective coatings against the elements?
5) Train your housekeepers. Have an art conservator advise which artworks to delegate to your housekeepers and how they should clean/maintain your collection. Some pieces are fine to be cleaned by housekeepers while other objects are best left to professionals.
6) Work with professionals. Use professional, reputable art handlers while installing, re-arranging, or moving your collection. Use a fine art storage facility when storing artworks.
7) Know before you lend. Lending your collection to museums or other institutions involves risks. The process of lending an artwork is traumatic to its integrity, as vibration, minor impacts, changes of temperature during transit, and other variables over time can lead to deterioration. Ensure that the borrowing institution is taking proper precautions to handle, store, and display your art. Ask an art conservator to provide detailed condition reports both before and after lending.
8) Periodically maintain your collection. Have an experienced art conservator walk through your collection to spot potential problems or risks before they turn into major issues that are either expensive to treat or create irreparable damage.
9) Don’t try to fix it yourself. A good percentage of conservation and restoration work is actually generated by damage caused to artworks by well-intentioned collectors. Leave the art restoration to an expert.