How to Preserve, Conserve and Restore Your Artwork

By | Dec 3 2021 · 5 min read

From protecting your canvasses from fungus to safely transporting your oils, here are some of the top tips to protect and preserve your precious artworks.

An original work of art is a significant investment, and it’s only fair that you would want to protect it. A variety of factors is responsible for damaging an art piece. Fluctuations in temperature, high humidity, poor storage conditions, and mishandling during transportation are just some of the factors that are at play. Here are certain pointers on how to preserve your artwork.

 How to Preserve Artwork

Temperature and humidity are perhaps two of the biggest enemies of paintings. Ideally, paintings should be preserved between 22 and 25 degrees Centigrade and at a relative humidity of 50%. Fluctuations in temperature should be avoided. In a country like India, where the humidity can reach up to 80-90% during the sultry monsoon season, it is best to use dehumidifiers to get rid of excess moisture. In a conversation with, Priya Khanna, who owns her own art preservation studio, says that in a city like Mumbai, which gets salt-laden sea breeze, multiple dehumidifiers must be placed throughout the room to get rid of excess moisture.

Fungus growth is another common factor that can ruin a painting. Fungus spores are naturally found in the atmosphere, but they need damp conditions to thrive. As such, paintings with fungal growth are often common in India after the rainy season. One way to avoid dampness is to put pegs of small wooden barriers behind the painting so that they remain away from the wall. One can also use Coroplast – a high-quality polypropylene material – as a barrier screen between the wall and the art piece.

Overhead lighting should also be avoided. Instead, one should opt for indirect lighting through lamps lit on either side of a painting. Special UV filter bulbs and heat-sensitive lighting can be used to avoid heating up the painting.

If a painting is particularly heavy, you might want to consider putting pegs underneath it to hold its weight. Equally important is to remove all your art pieces from the wall before you paint the house. All paintings should be kept height wise and, in the reverse, to prevent the corner of one painting from touching the canvas of another.

Transportation of artworks also requires utmost care. All paintings must be bubble-wrapped with the side of bubbles facing outward so that the canvasses do not end up with marks. A silicone release paper should also be placed in between the canvas and the bubble wrap for extra precaution.

For paintings that are behind glass, an acid-free tape grid must be placed to secure the glass. The entire painting should then be placed between foam and Thermocol and packed in corrugated sheets before transportation.

To ensure dryness and prevent fungus growth, a couple of silica gel packets and fumigants can also be placed with the work. While these are a few tips on how to protect artwork from damage, it's important that we understand the best practices used in art conservation and restoration.

A professional restorer working on a damaged artwork.

How to Restore and Conserve Your Artwork

 Conservation and restoration, according to Khanna, are two steps of the same process. The aim of conservation is to stop an artwork from further deterioration. The conservator will target the areas that are chipped or are cracking. Restoration, on the other hand, is a more invasive approach that aims to return an artwork to what the artist originally intended. Restoration typically targets tears and holes on the canvas, works on edges to strengthen them, and consolidates the paint film from the front and the reverse.

Since we believe that prevention is better than cure (or in this case restoration), there are a couple of things one can do to protect your paintings.

  1. Always keep a high-resolution image of the artwork so that a conservator has a clear understanding of the artwork.
  2. Keep an eye out for fungus growth as, during the monsoon season, damp surfaces tend to attract spores. Remove the painting occasionally to check for such growth.
  3. Old artworks, which usually had a layer of natural resin varnish, tend to turn brown over the years and attract dust. Use a light feather duster to remove all dirt.
  4. Canvases, as a rule of thumb, should not be rolled, as paintings that have thick impasto strokes may develop cracks while being rolled.
  5. While restoring a damaged work may not help you recover your full investment in artwork, it will, nonetheless, restore the value to a great extent.
  6. If you are still dilly dallying about restoring an artwork, you should keep in mind that the cost of restoration would still be significantly lower than the cost of buying a new art piece. With a solid insurance plan, you would be able to reimburse the entire amount you have spent on restoration.

A thing of beauty is indeed a joy forever. is committed to enlightening art enthusiasts on the importance of preserving art for future generations. Visit our resources page for information on the best art conservators and restorers in the country.