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Home > City Resources > Arts & Antiques > Care for your paintings

Tips: Care for your paintings

1. When structural damages such as tears, flaking paint, cracks with lifting edges, or mold occur in a painting, consult a conservator to decide on a future course of treatment for your painting.

2. The most important thing that you can do to protect your painting at home is to not have the air conditioner or heater running during the day, or alternatively, to have it turned off at night (or vice versa).

3. Do not display a painting in direct sunlight; it will darken the varnish, fade and crack the paint layer and ground over time.

4. Do not store paintings in humid basements or hot attics unless absolutely necessary.

5. Airborne pollution, particularly soot, have an oily component that allows them to bind more tightly to a painting’s surface.

6. When you dust, use a soft cotton cloth such as diaper cloth (on the frame only) and a soft bristle brush for the painting surface and recessed areas of frames.

7. Do not use cleaning sprays or glass cleaners.

8. Never dust a painting that has flaking paint or where the paint layer is separating from its ground.

9. When moving a painting, always prepare a pathway and a place to set down the picture before you begin the move.

10. When you are hanging a picture with an especially heavy frame, hang it from two hooks on the back of the frame, rather than from a single wire.

11. If you hang a painting in the bathroom, the extra humidity from showers and baths will give mold and mildew a good chance to take over the picture surface.

12 Avoid storing or exhibiting paintings near air vents or water pipes. Any accident to or leak in your system could be catastrophic to your paintings.

13. Home remedies such as coating with linseed oil, or rubbing with bread or an onion, can cause irreversible damage. Even the correct cleaning materials can cause damage when used incorrectly.

14. A good storage method is to place the paintings in a closet with a stiff board protecting the image side of each artwork and a backing board attached to the reverse.

15. Remove paintings from a room before painting, plastering, or steam cleaning carpets or wallpaper.

16. Wiping smoke, mud, or other contaminants from a painting may result in additional damage. An information packet on disaster recovery is available from the American Institute for Conservation.

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