The Art of Moving Artwork (And Other Delicate Items)

By: Nik Watson Last Updated: May 09, 2024

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Learn the secret strategies to safely pack artwork, antiques, and instruments from the pros.

The Art of Moving Artwork (And Other Delicate Items)

When moving day rolls around, the last thing anyone wants is for their belongings to suffer damage, but secure packing and handling is especially important when it comes to antiques and collectibles. These kinds of pieces aren’t just financially precious; they’re often irreplaceable, carrying deep sentimental or historical significance.

The heartbreak of receiving a unique, valued item ruined can overshadow any amount of money that insurance might offer. For the regular person or collectors, the intrinsic worth of their cherished antiques and collectibles far exceeds any monetary compensation, which can only ever cover a portion of their true value.

That’s where these tips come into play. Once you read this article, you’ll no longer worry about damaging your priceless possessions.

Double & Triple Check Your Delicate Items

Kicking off your move with fragile treasures? Start by taking stock and jotting down everything. Whip up a moving checklist that captures every gem in your collection along with its current market value. Sure, it sounds like a bit of a chore, but trust me, it’s a smart move to keep everything safe on its journey.

Next up, give each item a good double & triple check, noting any wears or damage. Considering bringing in a pro who knows their way around delicate pieces. They can spot those tiny flaws, peg down how much your stuff is really worth, and offer solid advice on keeping everything in pristine condition.

And here’s a pro tip: snap some detailed shots of each item, covering all angles. These photos aren’t just for Facebook—they’re your backup when it comes to insurance claims or if you need to show proof of damage. It’s all about covering your bases, giving you that extra layer of security and a clear starting point if things go sideways.

The Necessary Materials

When it’s time to move, especially those precious, fragile items, choosing the right packing supplies is crucial.

Here’s your essential shopping list to ensure everything arrives in perfect condition:

  • Quality Boxes: Opt for sturdy, size-varied boxes, and consider crates for larger items.
  • Bubble Wrap: Ideal for protecting almost anything.
  • Strong Packing Tape: Keeps boxes securely sealed.
  • Packing Paper: Offers a protective wrap for less delicate items.
  • Cushioning Materials: Use packing peanuts, foam sheets, etc., to prevent shifting.
  • Specialized Packaging: Invest in materials like anti-static foam and acid-free tissue for delicate items.
  • Corner Protectors (Optional): Shield the edges of frames and mirrors.
  • Stretch Wrap (Optional): Bundles items together and secures furniture doors and drawers.

With these supplies, you’re set to ensure the safe arrival of your valuables at their new home.

Packing Artwork

We all know how fragile artwork can be. And it’s exactly why we must take the most care when packing and transporting priceless pieces.

Here are the simple steps to follow if you want your art to look as good as new:

  • Choose the Correct Boxes: Opt for sturdy, art-sized boxes, reusing the original packaging when possible. You can find these at local art supply stores or online.
  • Use Glassine Paper: This is a smooth wrapping paper that is resistant to air, grease, and water. The ultimate defense for artwork.
  • Double Bubble Wrap: After the glassine paper, double bubble wrap the art piece, making sure every corner is covered. Secure the bubble wrap with packing tape.
  • Archival-Quality Materials: Protect your art pieces from any damage by adding acid-free packing materials.
  • Protect Frame Corners: Cardboard or styrofoam protectors will save your artwork’s corners from any impact in transit.
  • Climate-Controlled Storage: If you opt for long-term storage, make sure the environment is climate-controlled to prevent warping.
  • Document Your Inventory: Keep a detailed account with photos and conditions of your artwork for insurance purposes.

These steps will ensure your artwork remains pristine for years to come.

Packing Antiques

If something were to happen to your precious antiques, you would neve forgive yourself. Learn how to pack them safely:

  • Wrap Them Individually: Bubble wrap is your best friend. It will shield your antiques from the bumps and impacts of transportation.
  • Secure Tightly With Packing Tape: Secure the bubble wrap with packing tape. Double check corners and other hard-to-reach areas.
  • Find the Right Kinds of Boxes: Don’t buy the cheap ones. Invest in heavy-duty boxes that can take a beating.
  • Always Add Extra Padding: Packing foam and peanuts are best for extra padding.
  • Clearly Label: Label the boxes on at least 2 sides with “FRAGILE” or “HANDLE WITH CARE”.

Packing Instruments

If your instruments are as dear to you as your favorite tunes, you’ll want to make sure they’re ready to rock in your new place. Here’s how to get your musical instruments safely through the move.

  • Break It Down: Got a bulky instrument? Take off any bits that can be detached, like mouthpieces or strings. It’s all about making them easier to handle and pack.
  • Cushion the Blow: Slide your instruments into their own cozy, padded cases. These cases are their best defense against the bumps and jostles of moving.
  • Box It Like a Pro: No original case? No problem. Grab a box that fits your instrument like a glove. It’ll keep your instrument from doing a dance inside the box.
  • Give the Strings a Break: If you’re packing guitars or violins, loosen up the strings. It keeps the tension off and prevents any snapping or popping during the move.

Stick to these steps, and you’ll be jamming out in your new spot in no time.

Using Recycled Packing Materials

Recycled packing materials are acceptable for antiques and fragile items, within reason. Make sure they are clean and dry.

You might score free corrugated boxes, bubble wrap, and various packing supplies from friends or business associates who’ve recently moved or regularly deal with shipments. Make sure to inspect any used packing materials for moisture, rips and tears, or wet materials that weaken the structural integrity or could cause any damage.

Newspaper is a common packing material that is fine for the outer layers of packing protection. But don’t use newspapers to wrap valuable items directly because the ink might transfer.

Let Moving Professionals Handle Your Fragile Items

When you have to move with antiques and fragile items, we have a list of the best moving companies on hand for you. They offer climate controlled storage and specialized handling for items like paintings and fine art, wine collections, and sculptures and statues to care for your special belongings during your move.

How Insurance Works

Insurance is like your personal superhero during a move, ready to save the day when the unexpected happens. Make sure to double-check your mover’s insurance details to ensure your treasures are protected while on the move.

And for those longer treks, go for movers who offer the whole package: full-value protection and released value protection. Throwing in an extra layer of liability coverage can also give you that peace of mind, keeping your belongings safe from any transit troubles.

Transporting Your Valuables

Depending on what your budget and needs, you can either go for the DIY method or a professional moving company. We always suggest moving with a professional moving company, even though it can be expensive, because they have the expertise and skills to be efficient and careful when moving your prized belongings.

If you do want more control in the process and don’t fully trust the moving company, you can always package your valuables yourself. Just make sure to follow the steps above if you do.


Be cautious while unpacking. It only takes one misplaced item to slip out of your fingers and break. Assess any damage done to your prized possessions when unwrapping.

Be sure to compare before and after pictures of your valuables to make sure nothing seems off. If you need, there are professional inspector services available. If you do find any damage done by the moving company, file an insurance claim immediately.

Follow these Tips to Safely Transport Your Valuables

It’s now time for you to put these tips into action. You’re ready to take on DIY packing of your most valuable possessions or you could just hire a moving company to do it for you.

Following these tips above will surely give you more confidence for a seamless move.