7 Tips For Safely Transporting Artwork

transporting artwork

Have some artwork you want to move with you or perhaps you’re an artist and want to move your precious artwork on your own?

Hiring a refrigerated vehicle or mobile cold room to store and transport your artwork is a great way to ensure they are kept in the best condition. It may be particularly important if the artwork is old or very valuable to you and your family.

In this post, we discuss how to transport your artwork so you can get it where it needs to be safely and in the best condition.

If you don’t know a great deal about artwork, it might seem enough to pack up a painting with a simple sheet of newspaper and drive away. But there’s a lot more to it than that for perishable items like artwork:


If you are unsure how to best pack your artwork, YouTube has plenty of professional tutorials on packing artwork for shipping, and you can get advice from local companies like Pack n Send.

Why paintings can deteriorate

Transportation is a very vulnerable time for artwork. Light, heat, moisture, air pollutants, dust, dirt, insects, physical vibration and impact can lead to slow deterioration of, or sudden damage to, a painting. 

Here’s our 7 tips…

1. Cover Up

Cover artwork and limit natural daylight when transferring, as light can cause yellowing and/or darkening of varnishes and the discolouration of certain pigments.

2. Pack paintings vertically

If they’re stored flat, something (or someone) could easily fall, flop or sit on the paintings.

3. Don’t pack paintings on top of each other

Always use a rack to keep the artwork off the ground and each other, particularly if you must lay your paintings flat. Frames and canvases can absorb dampness and can get distorted if there is too much weight on top of them.

4. Temperature

A constant climate is an ideal situation for keeping works of art stable, so it’s important to match the temperature while transporting to where it will eventually go.

Let’s use museums as an example benchmark for keeping paintings safe – 20ºC ± 1ºC. The accepted museum standard for relative humidity is 50% ± 3%.

Fluctuations in temperature and humidity set up cycles of expansion and contraction which will inexorably lead to the deterioration of paintings. Choose to hire a vehicle with consistent temperature and moderate humidity.

5. Physical vibration or impact

Many paintings are on stretched canvas which is very susceptible to vibrational forces. Paint loss can eventuate from continual or excessive vibration.

That’s why paintings that travel from gallery to gallery are stored in protective crates with foam padding to reduce vibration from movement and shock. Poor handling can result in severe damage to an artwork. This is where prep comes into, look out for special crates and/or other box-type protections for transporting any artwork. 

6. Minimise contact

The first step to conserving oil paintings and other artwork during transportation is to minimise human contact. An easy way to accomplish this is to wear soft gloves during the packing and moving process.

7. Take care driving

Make sure your painting won’t flop around, or worse, become a missile if you stop suddenly. Secure them properly and drive at a measured pace.