Blog by Dr. Lori

3 Storage Tips for Antiques

by Dr. Lori Verderame
3 Storage Tips for Antiques

Are you ruining your antiques by incorrectly storing or displaying them? During my years as a museum director and curator, I curated many exhibitions supervising the proper storage and shipping from city to city of various precious pieces of art, antiques and collectibles. To protect the valuable objects, I needed to know the ins and outs of proper storage, transport, and display. If this is done incorrectly, any insurance claim might not be honored.

In addition to avoiding these three places not to display antiques, we all know you shouldn’t store valuables in a basement or attic because of changes in temperature and humidity. So you know the places to avoid, but do you know “the how to” of storing and shipping your valuable antiques? Read three tips below to avoid possible and costly damage:

1. How to use Bubble Wrap

Bubble wrap is one of the easiest and fun storage tools available, right? Pop some bubbles and relieve some stress as you wrap up the antique. Take a piece of bubble wrap, wrap the object, and tape the wrap securely. Then, store the piece in a safe place and you are done. Or so you think. First, bubble wrap should not be used for long term storage as it traps heat and moisture which can do damage to the antique that you are trying to protect. Use it for transporting antiques only from one location to the next location and then remove it.

Bubble wrap

When you wrapped that antique in bubble wrap, did you take notice as to the placement of the bubbles? You think I am kidding. But, no, I am not kidding. The bubbles should be facing outwards to help absorb any impact from an external force. Do not place the bubbles of bubble wrap right up against the antique that you are trying to wrap. If you do, and if the bubbles pop, the gas inside the bubbles can mark and damage the wrapped antique.

2. How to Stack Framed Artwork

If you are storing framed works of art such as prints, posters, textiles, sports memorabilia, and paintings, you now know that they shouldn’t be stored in bubble wrap. You should place the framed works standing upright with the frames touching back to back or face to face. Do not place the back of a frame with a wire on its back up against the front of another frame. The wire on the back of one frame could scratch the front of the other framed work of art. And, do not stack framed works of art on top of each other like a stack of pancakes. The weight of each work can cause damage to the others below. Always stack framed pieces standing up. Read more framing tips.

3. How to use a Curio Cabinet

Yes, everyone loves to proudly display their antiques and collectibles in curio cabinets, but I see people ruining their pieces all the time. First, people love to close the glass doors in order to keep all the dust out, but in fact, the closed doors of those curio cabinets are trapping the heat in. Your Lladro and Hummel figurines are screaming “let me out” since it is so hot in there especially when the sun hits the room. You are creating a greenhouse for your ceramics and other collectibles in fact damaging them. You will see crazing on your glazed ceramic figurines and remember, that’s not age, that’s damage.

If the heat wasn’t enough, many cabinets have lights inside to highlight the collectibles on display. Turning these lights on only adds additional sources of heat. I’ve seen valuable crystal goblets, identify valuable crystal, cracked and broken under the heat of these lights inside china cabinets or dining room display cabinets. If you have to use the lights inside your cabinet, open the doors of the cabinet whenever they are turned on as that will help to let the heat escape. The best time to open those doors is when the little grandkids are not around and when your pets are playing outside.

Wondering if you are storing your antiques properly? If you need my help, please contact us.

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