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Protecting Your Fine Art Collection, Chubb, 10/03

Conservation , October 2003, CHUBBCOLLECTORS.COM

Protecting Your Fine Art Collection
Staff Writer

As a collector of fine art, you are more than just the owner of your valuable items–you also are the caretaker. Purchasing valuable articles coverage is one of the best ways to help protect your financial investment in fine arts. However, there are several preventative and maintenance steps you also should take to properly care for and help prevent damage or loss to your collection. Here are some things you can do:

* Keep art collections out of direct sunlight. Ultraviolet light will cause severe and often irreversible damage to art, especially paper, textiles and photographs. Shut all lights when the room is not being used and keep curtains or shades drawn. In rooms containing many fine art items, consider installing UV filtering film on windows.

* Never hang artwork or a valuable object over a fireplace. Heat, smoke and ash can easily ruin artwork.

* Install smoke detectors, not heat detectors, in rooms with precious objects. A heat detector will provide little protection against soot or smoke damage. Install smoke detectors within 100 feet of the objects you wish to protect.

* Do not store fine art or carpets in basements or attics. These parts of the home are susceptible to dramatic temperature changes, flooding and leaks. If possible, create an “art closet,” with horizontal racks and a locked door. Wrap all fine items in archival materials, and store framed artwork face to back, in a vertical position.

* Hire a professional and recommended art hanger. Objects must be hung correctly to ensure support and reduce the chance of falling. A professional art hanger is more likely to use the proper hardware and structural supports than a general contractor.

* Keep your home at a constant temperature of approximately 75oF and 55% relative humidity. Since home thermostats are imprecise, install a compact digital thermohygrometer to monitor humidity and temperature.

* Frame all art, especially paper, textiles and photographs using “museum-quality” materials. Shatter-resistant fronts can shield damaging UV rays and other exposures, while corrugated polypropylene backings protect against water absorption. Consult a museum-quality framer or conservator for specific advice about framing different mediums.

* Install water alert sensors in areas of your home susceptible to water damage. These areas include above ceiling trays and underneath washers, dryers and radiators.

These tips are provided by the Chubb Group of Insurance Companies, leading insurers of valuable articles such art, antiques and jewelry. This information is advisory in nature. No liability is assumed by reason of the information in this document.