HL: There are a number of ways to protect your art depending on what your artwork is made of and where you place your art. The three biggest culprits that cause art damage are: light, temperature/humidity and material.
1. LIGHT: Think about sun damage and what it does to your skin. It is the same concept for art. If your room or house is filled with natural or artificial light we recommend a layered approach to protecting your art. Since keeping the shades drawn is not an optimal solution, we always advise clients to cover their windows with a UV film. This is an easy and affordable application that is available at more stores.
The second layer of protection is framing. Most framers are able to provide UV protected museum glass or plexi (recommended to prevent shattering) that will prevent damaging rays from affecting your art. Blocking UV rays by covering your windows and the treated frames will significantly help prevent fading.
Be aware that even fluorescent light can damage your art. At the very least, you should shut your shades at night and turn off the lights when you are not in the room to protect from sun and fluorescent damage. This is saves on your energy bill too!
2. TEMPERATURE/HUMIDITY: After 50 years, works on oil on canvases will become brittle and start to crack if the humidity levels vary too much. Under-floor heating is ideal but if you keep the room temperature around 70 degrees F (~20 degrees C) your art should be safe from damage. HLAA recommends using a digital thermo-hydograph to regulate humidity in your room at the optimum level of 50-55 percent.
If creating a climate controlled environment in your home is not realistic, two practical guidelines you can follow are: 1. Never hang works above an open fire or radiator. The extreme temperatures will cause wooden frames to stretch and warp, canvases to cockle, or surfaces to ripple. Even if you do not have wooden frames, any surface will warp over time. 2. Avoid hanging art near drafty halls or doorways and on bathroom walls, or on walls where temperatures and humidity levels can vary for that matter.
People with beach homes or boats mostly do not to install art in those locations because of the irreversible damage that can be caused by humidity.
3. MATERIAL: Some materials are more sensitive to light than others therefore the damage risk is inherent. Works on paper such as prints, photographs, watercolors and drawings are more fragile and are easily damaged by UV rays. Be conscientious of the material of the artwork when installing your art and take appropriate measures to protect the art. If your collection contains transgressive materials such as animals, formaldehyde or latex, we recommend that you call in a professional conservationist to inspect the work and provide a professional opinion. Fragile works should be checked on periodically.
We also recommend using a professional handler for shipping and handling your art. Transportation techniques and technologies are constantly being updated and improved to transport art in a safe and secure way. Art handling companies also offer storage and packing. Be sure to ask if they have climate controlled vehicles and warehouses.
Of course, some things are beyond your control but when you minimize your risk you can enjoy your art for many more years and maintain its value which is indeed a good thing!