What the experts recommend to protect your most valuable pieces during the happiest & booziest time of the year…
Experts agree: protecting your artwork during your holiday parties doesn’t have to be complicated, but it’s often overlooked. Spend some time making a checklist for art protection while you’re drafting your party invitations. This list might include: having special hardware and double-checking the stability of your current hardware for works that hang on the wall, placing furniture strategically to prevent spills, placing artwork so it allows adequate space for guest pathways through the home or office, and adjusting lighting to highlight the artwork.
“One of our clients had a major piece in their collection that looked as if it had been damaged,” says Vault co-founder and CEO Robert Boland. “We brought in a conservator from our team to look at it, and discovered that the damage was actually ice cream – someone had dripped on this incredible sculpture! By looking closely and responding quickly to remove the drips, we were able to save their collection a devaluation of over a million dollars. And…. we can confirm that it was vanilla.”
“The more visible the artwork is in the space, whether it’s your home or office, the less likely someone is to bump into it with their ice cream,” Boland says. “Adjustments to lighting and placement will keep your artwork safer while simultaneously highlighting the visual impact of your collection.”
Catherine Williams from Silver Lining Art Conservation was the expert conservator who removed the ice cream from the sculpture. “After one holiday season, I removed a giant spray of beverage drips from the face of a large painting in a corporate office,” she recalls. “I like to imagine it was a spray of champagne from a holiday party where the company was celebrating a very successful year!”
Artist Ad Reinhardt once famously quipped, “Sculpture is something you bump into when you back up to look at a painting.” With a little planning, though, you can ensure that your holiday party does not wreak havoc on your collection.
Vault offers specific tips for collectors for this holiday season:
- Place spotlights or floodlights on the work, making it brighter than the surrounding area, and more visible.
- Make sure traffic flow has at least three feet of distance–“breathing room”–between the visitor and the piece: a flower arrangement is a perfect solution to keep guests at a distance.
- Security hardware is a lifesaver and can be bought at your favorite local hardware store and installed by specially trained local art handlers (who are often artists themselves!)
- Curate your installations to make engaging, thematic presentations and compositions in the room. This will draw the attention of your visitors to the work, letting them admire your collection while also being more aware of its dimensions and edges.
- Consider where caterers will stand – they can be your secret weapon, guarding works of art from visitors without anyone noticing.
- Think about your food and wine choices for the artwork’s safety and make your menu accordingly – what is less likely to stick, stain, and splash?
And what to do if disaster (or ice cream) strikes? Don’t panic: Austin is home to a community of experts in art handling, conservation, interior design, and storage.