When you’re getting ready to move, packing tends to be the most overwhelming part for many of us. Many people end up so exasperated with the thought of packing that things get thrown into boxes with the hope for the best on the other side.

That may work for things like clothes and books, but there are things you can’t just shove wherever they fit. If you have expensive artwork you’ll need to give some special attention to packing them well for the move.

Moving fragile, large, expensive, or delicate artwork takes planning and patience to ensure it’s prepared for transport. Even if you’re only moving a few blocks away, you can’t be too careful with your expensive or irreplaceable artwork. Whether it’s financial or sentimental value, your art deserves careful attention.

Tips to Protect Expensive Art

Gather Supplies

Having the right supplies to pack carefully is paramount when moving expensive art to your new home. Make sure you take the time to gather all of the supplies you need. You will need slightly different specialty supplies depending on what you have.

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Paintings or Framed Artwork

If you’re moving paintings or framed artwork make sure you invest in the proper boxes. Artwork boxes (also known as mirror boxes) will protect your pieces from shock and damage.

Take inventory of the number of pieces you have, and measure them. Choose boxes that are a few inches larger than the dimensions of your painting to allow space to pad and protect your artwork. If you aren’t able to find artwork boxes, you can use standard moving boxes. It will take a little DIY, but by flattening them out and reconstructing multiple boxes into one you can create your own.

Recommended other packing materials for your paintings or framed artwork include:

  • Painter’s Tape
  • Packing Tape
  • Plastic Wrap
  • Bubble Wrap
  • Glassine Paper
  • Packing Paper
  • Packing Peanuts

Sculptures or Pottery

Sculptures and pottery are slightly less demanding for particular packing supplies. For these items, all you need are moving boxes, bubble wrap, plastic wrap, and packing paper. It’s best to take inventory of how many you have and of which sizes so you can be sure to get enough supplies. The same rule for boxes applies: get boxes a couple of inches larger than your piece so you can pad it snugly.

Prepare Your Pieces

The next step is to prepare your artwork before packing it into boxes. The objective is to shield your art from damage from shock and movement while in transit.

Paintings or Framed Artwork

If you have framed artwork with glass on the front, start by placing a large X with blue painter’s tape on the front of the glass. Make sure this X stretches from corner to corner without touching the frame. This will ensure that in the case of a shock that breaks the glass, it won’t shatter and ruin the art behind.

If your art does not have glass on the front, use glassine paper to wrap it. Glassine paper is resistant to air, grease, and water and will keep your art safe and clean. Do not use newsprint, wax, or parchment paper as it can cause damage.

Then, wrap your pieces entirely with plastic wrap. Cover the wrapped art with bubble wrap and ensure it’s secured with packing tape.

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Sculptures or Pottery

Sculptures can be fragile and sometimes oddly shaped. That means the best place to start is strengthening weak points to protect from breakage.

Wrap the entire piece in plastic wrap, ensuring the plastic goes into all of the nooks and crannies. Cut pieces of bubble wrap and cover the weak points of your piece. Then, cover the entire sculpture with bubble wrap and secure it with tape.

Pack With Care

Packing your item into boxes is just as important as wrapping them. There are a few easy tips to keep in mind when inserting your things into boxes to ensure they’re protected.

Paintings or Framed Artwork

Start by filling the first few inches of your box with packing paper. This will help cushion your piece and protect the corners. As you lower your painting into the box, add more paper to protect the sides and do the same with the top. Check to see if you’ve used enough paper by shaking the box to see if your artwork shifts. If so, add more paper.

Seal the box and make sure you’ve clearly labeled it as FRAGILE on all sides.

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Sculptures or Pottery

As your sculptures are well wrapped and padded, you can insert them into moving boxes as-is. If you have large boxes, you can include more than one piece and a pad with packing paper between them to minimize shifting. Make sure you mark the box as FRAGILE on all sides.

If you have a very large sculpture not suited for cardboard boxes, use a wooden crate instead.

Hire Professionals

The best way to ensure your art is well protected during the move is to hire professionals. Full-service movers will pack your artwork for you and unpack it on the other side, offering their expertise to ensure your precious art arrives safely.

Even if you pack your own, make sure you hire movers with the equipment and know-how to move your art safely and take good care of it. They’ll have the equipment necessary to move large pieces and will carefully secure your items in the truck to protect them.


With a team of professional, experienced, reliable movers, FlatRate can move you – and your art – swiftly. Our professional packers can prepare your artwork, transport it, and unpack it safely on the other side.