Protecting Your Masterpieces: How to Store Artwork Like a Pro

I frequently receive emails from artists asking about the best way to safely and effectively store artwork in their studios. To some extent, this is a question every artist has to deal with at some point. Every piece of completed art has to go somewhere.

I argue that the best place to store art is on a gallery wall while the gallery is working to sell the art or in a collector’s home after it has sold. However, the reality is that no matter how actively you are showing and selling your art, you are likely to have some inventory waiting in your studio to go out or work that has already shown coming back to the studio before going back out to another venue. If you aren’t yet showing in galleries, you may have inventory building up as you work to attain representation.

Let’s look at some best practices for storing artwork safely and effectively in your studio. Whether you are a seasoned artist with a vast collection of completed work or a newcomer just starting out, it is important to know how to properly store your artwork to preserve its quality and longevity. We will cover everything from choosing the right storage materials to creating an ideal storage environment to ensure your artwork remains in pristine condition until it is displayed or sold. So, let’s dive in and explore some of the best ways to store your artwork.

So, how can you safely store your paintings in your studio? Here are some tips:

  1. Store your paintings vertically: Storing your paintings vertically is the safest way to protect them from damage. This is because the weight of the canvas and the paint will be evenly distributed, preventing any cracks or warping. If you don’t have enough wall space, consider using vertical storage racks or shelves.
  2. If you decide to use storage racks to store your paintings vertically, make sure to choose ones that will adequately protect your art. Look for storage racks that are sturdy, have adjustable shelves to accommodate different sizes of paintings, and have padding to protect the edges of your artwork. Additionally, make sure that the racks are secured to prevent any accidental tipping.
  3. Keep your paintings away from direct sunlight: Direct sunlight can cause fading and discoloration of your artwork over time. Therefore, it’s important to store your paintings away from windows or direct sunlight.
  4. Maintain consistent temperature and humidity levels: Fluctuations in temperature and humidity can cause damage to your paintings, so it’s important to maintain consistent levels. Ideally, you should aim for a temperature between 60-75°F and a relative humidity between 40-60%.
  5. Use acid-free materials: When wrapping or packing your paintings for storage, use acid-free materials to prevent any damage or deterioration. Acid-free tissue paper, bubble wrap, and cardboard are readily available and affordable.
  6. Label and document: It’s important to label and document each painting to keep track of your inventory. This will also make it easier to locate a particular piece when it’s time to exhibit or sell it.
  7. Keep pests away: Pests such as insects and rodents can cause damage to your paintings, so make sure your studio is free from infestations. Store your paintings in sealed containers or cover them with a sheet or cloth to keep pests away.
  8. Consider professional storage: If you have a large collection of paintings or if you’re planning on storing your paintings for an extended period, it may be worth considering professional storage. Professional storage facilities offer climate-controlled environments and specialized equipment to ensure the safety and protection of your artwork.

Do you have any additional tips for storing artwork that you’ve found to be effective? Have you ever experienced damage to your artwork due to improper storage? What steps have you taken to prevent it from happening again? What challenges have you faced when it comes to storing artwork, and how have you overcome them? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

About the Author: Jason Horejs

Jason Horejs is the Owner of Xanadu Gallery, author of best selling books "Starving" to Successful & How to Sell Art , publisher of, and founder of the Art Business Academy. Jason has helped thousands of artists prepare themselves to more effectively market their work, build relationships with galleries and collectors, and turn their artistic passion into a viable business.


  1. Good article Jason. When I moved into my new studio, I was looking for a way to store my paintings so they didn’t take up much space. I have 12 foot ceilings and I had the maintenance man in our building build a large, 4-5 foot deep shelf across an entire wall (20 feet) six feet above the floor. He hung the shelf with metal bars screwed into the ceiling joists (It’s an old factory building). The shelf is strong enough to walk on! Once in place, I covered the floor of the shelf with carpeting and a colleague helped me construct a way to keep the work vertical. Every two inches across the front end of the shelf, we screwed in three screws in a triangular configuration but not fully screwed in. We also placed a board horizontally on the wall to the back of the shelf about 2 to 3 feet up and did the same screw configuration. We then used 1/4 inch white rope and ran it from a screw set on the back wall to the screws on the shelf front, across to the next set, and back up to the back board. We did so across the entire length of the shelf. This gives me 2 inch wide slots to slide my work vertically into. Once strung, the screws were tightened to give tension to the rope separators. Should one loosen, I just tighten the screwed on the shelf front some more. An inexpensive solution to getting a lot of vertical storage! You can see the system at and

  2. I’ve stored my drawings in a large UPS box or two. Also, those Itoya folders are great for smaller drawings. Or super large drawings, the box the art paper arrives in, works great.

  3. I find one of the better materials for resting against a painting is the foam sheeting that comes round technology – like a tv or computer. As my storage is in the garage, and I’m in the desert, I can hit high temperatures. I’ve found that paper, cardboard and plastics (such as bubble wrap) can melt into acrylic paintings, or some of the acrylic glazes I use.
    The foam may stick a little bit – kinda like how your socks stick to your feet in hot sneakers – but peels off harmlessly. I’m always asking friends who work in tech for the sheets – sometimes it even comes as bags which are even more useful. After the foam layer there’s a box that the painting will go into – so they’re always ready to travel to the next event.

  4. I found ULINE to be a great source for storage and shipping supplies.
    They have many acid-free products in various sizes and large quantities — foam core board, rolls of glassine, kraft paper, boxes and others.
    My work is usually very large but I do have small works as well. I am often tempted to use what comes my way, ie cardboard, bubblewrap, etc. but I always find a way to go acid-free since I am a professional artist and I agree that it really does matter.

  5. I am 75 and have been painting most all of my life and have a number of works to store. I purchased a 40’ shipping container that is sealed from rodents that I use for storing my work. I put them in boxes to protect them from banging into one another when you are looking for one in particular. Can Label the boxes and put them on groups by subject. I also store my frames in standard sizes along with blank canvases. I try to take advantage of sales. At the front I keep my panels, canopy, tables, etc that I need for set ups at events that I do usually one or twice a month.
    Works well for me and keeps my studio a little more under control ! I also had a 12×24’ studio built by a shed company with an open beam ceiling and an angled roof. The high side faces north with windows and the lower side is a solid wall for hanging art where I have some of my favorites hanging that I can show to anyone that comes by. I also put shelves over the windows where I can put art. The floor is wood like linoleum for easy clean up.

  6. Good ventiation is a must! During Covid, my art was locked in a large artists’ building. No one entered for a year. Several artists found book lice among their works on paper. It required a long process of cleaning and reframing all infested pieces. Most, but not all, of my work was salvagable. These bugs only are problematic in stagnant, closed spaces.

    1. It may not be practical due to size unless you have access to a very large freezer, but it would be worth an experiment or two irl make sure it doesn’t affect your medium—as an entomology student with an assignment to make an insect collection, we were advised a good way to kill insects is to leave them in a freezer overnight. Many an arthropod has met its demise that way. Just a thought.

  7. Hi Jason,
    I store my paintings in a 6 ft bookcase I turned on its side. I covered the “bottom” with padded shelf liner. All the paintings stay vertical. I separate them with cardboard (didn’t think to get acid-free). I cover them with the plastic bags that my framer supplies with the newly framed work. I have had problems using bubble wrap (left marks in the bubble wrap design on the frame). The unprotected framed paintings hanging on the wall have occasionally “worn off” from the humidity. I live within blocks of the ocean. I have had to buy new frames before putting the in shows. I love open windows and hate A/C but am thinking of getting an A/C for the room I store my paintings in and keep door closed.

  8. Great/important article!

    One thing that drives me nuts is when a gallery (or an artist) stacks paintings vertically with nothing in between.. so many times I’ve seen paintings stick together and goodness knows how much damage gets done in the long run.. so yes all of the information that has been shared above is really important but for goodness sakes when you stack your paintings put a piece of foam or cardboard between them!
    They’re your legacy!

  9. Great subject and lots of good ideas but the biggest problem I have storing my work was not mentioned. PROTECTING THE CORNERS AND EDGES!!
    Most of my work is relatively big (40×50 to 48×60). I work in acrylic on stretched canvas usually 2” thick. I store them vertically on rolling storage carts that I have covered with carpet on the bottom surface. They are shifted and moved a lot which leaves the corners and edges constantly in need of touch up or even repair. I have used corner protectors but had to staple them on the back side to keep them in place. Wondering if anyone has used foam noodles split down their length to protect the edges? I’m worried they would mark the art work, especially acrylic which has the tendency to adhere to materials that are similar to acrylics.
    Thanks for all the insights you share from a galley’s point of view. I find them very helpful.

    1. I do hope you get this message because it’s been awhile! Yes, I used the foam insulation pipes to protect my edges, and yes, they absolutely unfortunately left scratch marks all along my paintings. It took hours of work and patience to undo the damage caused by what I thought was protecting my paintings.

  10. In addition to inventory numbers, I tape a picture to the front of the storage/shipping box. I encase my paintings in a Tyvek envelope which “breaths”. A glance is all I need to identify the painting. The downside is that the packages are very slick. I adopted this method after bubble wrap left impressions in acrylic paintings stored in a very warm storage unit.

  11. Cardboard boxes that I have accumulated from frame orders have become my protectors for my watercolor paintings. The corner cardboard protectors that companies send with frames I keep and use when shipping any of my work. Since my art is under glass I can use bubble wrap when shipping. Cardboard pieces are cut a little bigger than the painting and put between each piece to keep paintings from banging and rubbing against each other. I braided soft cording to make handles for my boxes to tote them back and forth to shows. One room in my home has become the gallery/storage area.

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