June 28, 2023

You've found a favorite piece of art for your home and want to make sure you can enjoy it for years to come? Or maybe you're worried about ruining it with the wrong care? If you've found something that means a lot to you, you want to protect it. I understand that very well. As an artist, I have gained some experience over the years that I would like to share with you today.

When cleaning artwork, it's especially important to use the right method and materials to prevent damage. Imagine: The Mona Lisa actually had eyebrows before it was cleaned too aggressively!
For valuable or fragile works of art, it may be wise to consult a professional restorer or art historian, or to hire a professional to do the cleaning.

A Space for Art

Choosing the right location is an important step in protecting your artwork. Light, humidity, and temperature all affect artwork and can damage it. Ideally, art should be exposed to a stable temperature of 18-20° and a relative humidity of about 55% - but who can guarantee these levels in a home?

Nevertheless, there are things you can do to protect your artwork. Choose a location where the temperature and humidity will not fluctuate too much. Of course, you can't completely avoid these changes as the seasons change. But you can use blinds or curtains to keep rooms cooler in the summer, and a bowl of water to increase humidity during the heating season.

  • Avoid direct sunlight

Direct sunlight can cause fading, discoloration, and damage to your artwork. Choose a location that is protected from direct sunlight. If necessary, use curtains or blinds to control light.

  • Climate Control

As mentioned above, fluctuations in temperature and humidity can also damage artwork. Avoid rooms with high humidity, such as bathrooms and kitchens. Don't store paintings you're not displaying in the basement - or only if it's really dry. Attics are usually uninsulated and subject to wide temperature swings.

  • Avoid heat

Do not hang your artwork near heat sources such as heaters or fireplaces. This could damage the materials and cause deformation.

  • Physical damage protection

Avoid high-traffic areas, narrow aisles, or places where images could be easily knocked or dropped.

How to Hang Your Art Safely

When hanging the artwork, you should pay special attention to 3 things:

  • Wall condition

Inspect the wall where you plan to hang your artwork. Make sure it is dry, stable and able to support the weight of the artwork. For heavy or large artwork, it may be necessary to use special fasteners or anchors.

  • Suitable hanging systems

Professional gallery rails, sturdy picture hooks, or wire D-rings are good options. If necessary, anchor them to the wall. Make sure the hanging system can support the weight of the artwork and is securely fastened to the wall.

  • Air Flow

Air circulation helps regulate humidity. It also helps prevent condensation behind the painting. You can use a hanging system that leaves some space between the picture and the wall, or you can attach small pieces of felt or cork to the back of the artwork.

Special Aspects of the Materials

Different art materials have different sensitivities to environmental influences. Therefore, protective measures can vary.

  • Watercolors and Drawings on Paper

Watercolors and drawings on paper are usually very fragile. Moisture, UV rays and acid can cause serious damage. They should be protected from direct sunlight, high humidity and acidic materials. It makes sense to display them only framed. Preferably under museum glass - more on that in a moment. For drawings and watercolors, use acid-free sleeves or mounts.

  • Charcoal and Pastel Drawings

Charcoal and pastel drawings are also very sensitive. The dry pigments lie loosely on the paper and are susceptible to smudging. They should therefore be handled with care. Behind glass, they are protected from dust and friction. However, it is important that you use a mount so that the glass does not rest directly on the pigments.

  • Oil and Acrylic Paintings

Oil and acrylic paintings tend to be more resistant to moisture and UV rays than watercolors or drawings on paper. Acrylics are even slightly less sensitive. Still, they should be protected from direct sunlight, extreme temperatures, and moisture. Varnish or a protective coating seals the surface and protects against UV rays and dirt. Paintings on canvas may lose tension or become slightly deformed over time. Re-stretching can help maintain tension and correct any deformations.

If you are unsure, or in the case of valuable artwork, it is advisable to consult a professional such as a conservator or art historian to determine the best method of care.

Museums Glass

Museum glass is acid-free and contains no other components that could damage the artwork over time. It has a UV protective coating. This protects the artwork from these harmful rays.

Unlike traditional glass surfaces, it reduces reflections and glare. Details and colors of the artwork can be seen more clearly - without distracting reflections. Museum glass creates a barrier against dust, dirt and other contaminants that can damage artwork. It also helps protect the artwork from accidental contact or damage.

Proper Care of Art

To maintain the beauty and integrity of your art over time, proper care is important.

  • Handling

Always handle your artwork with clean hands, preferably wearing cotton gloves to avoid fingerprints and dirt - and contact with acid! - to avoid fingerprints and dirt. Do not touch the surface of the artwork directly, especially paintings or delicate materials such as paper.

  • Cleaning

Remove dust from your artwork regularly to prevent dirt buildup. Use a soft, clean brush or duster. Cloths, even fine microfiber cloths, can stick to the surface texture of paintings and cause damage. Do not use water or detergents.

If the dirt cannot be removed with a brush, use very, very little moisture (it sounds strange, but saliva is best). Be careful not to rub or squeeze. It is best to remove the painting from the wall to clean it so that it does not fall down.

  • Periodic inspection

Inspect your artwork regularly for signs of alteration, damage, or insect infestation. If you notice any abnormalities or have questions about care, consult a professional conservator or art historian.

  • Storage

If you must store artwork, make sure it is in a clean, dry, well-ventilated area. Use acid-free boxes, sleeves, or archival folders to protect artwork. Do not stack or crush artwork, and store it flat or in special containers to prevent damage.

Canvas artwork should be stored vertically, or the stretcher bars may sag and leave marks. If you are leaning them against the wall, place a sheet of acid-free paper between them. Separate multiple canvases with acid-free paper.


I hope my tips are helpful, and I wish you a lot of fun with your artworks. Do you have any questions? Or suggestions, maybe even wishes for more blog posts? Just let me know.

Yours, Lea

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About the Author Lea Finke

Lea Finke is an artist with all her soul. In her blog, she talks about inspiration, passion, and encounters with art.

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