If you collect art, at some point you will need to ship it. This doesn’t mean you have to clear your garage, set up power tools and start building a crate. But you may have to arrange pick up, packing, insurance and shipping. Don’t be daunted, it is done thousands of times each day, and here are twelve ways you can do it too. And if you insist, you can still pack the art yourself.
The first question is why. Are you moving to a new house, giving the art away as a gift, returning it to a gallery? It depends, and the handling price will matter as well. If it is personal, and the art is not extremely valuable ($10,000 or less), then send it slow and safe. If it is of high value, or if it absolutely must get there undamaged, specialty art handlers are the only way. See below for our recommended shippers.
The structure of the art matters a great deal. An unframed oil painting on canvas, 2 x 3 feet is very different from a ceramic vessel; each must be handled and shipped accordingly. Some objects simply can’t be packed and shipped. Next time you are in a museum, consider the objects you see. Ask yourself how do they move these fragile antiquities from one room to another, or to another museum? A three thousand year old Egyptian sculpture is not getting ground shipped in a cardboard box.
On the other hand, you don’t need to pay a fortune if it is not fragile and not large. There are many great choices that are closer and easier than you might realize. See our recommendations below.
Millions of art objects are shipped every year, most make it to their destination unscathed. But unfortunately, shipping and packing do introduce the possibility of damage. Insurance won’t bring your art back to you, but it will allow you to replace it with something else or pay for repairs. Art galleries carry their own insurance and are covered for transit. But what about you, how can an individual cover art shipments? There is a lot of differences in this area, so ask before you ship. FedEx for example, will not insure high value items for over $500. That won’t get you very far. UPS will insure your items for much more, but they will require professional packing or you won’t be covered. Specialty art handlers all offer insurance, but it can be expensive. $2 per hundred of value and up, for example. That means a $10,000 painting will cost $200 to insure in transit. The US postal service does offer insurance for high value, but good luck with a claim, and their handling leaves much to be desired. If the art is extremely valuable – use a specialty art handler. You will be insured and the art will be handled with great care. See below for our recommendations.
Absolutely. If the art is not extremely valuable and not fragile, you have many options. Here are a few.
Small objects and paintings: Use the UPS store. They do a good job packing (they are trained to do just this) and the shipping costs are modest. They offer insurance, and there are a lot of retail locations in the US. Another option is using something called a “Strong Box.” This is a specialty art box with all the foam packing inside. They are typically only for framed or unframed paintings. They are easy to use, open the box, tear out a section of foam (the size of your painting) and replace the materials. Tape it shut and ship. The boxes are even reusable. But use a professional packer if the art has glass on its face (pastels, watercolors, prints, etc).
If you are unsure, or anxious, call a good art gallery or museum for advice. If you don’t have a relationship with a gallery near you, call the Ann Korologos Gallery, we’ll be glad to help.
Below is a partial list of shippers and packers. We can recommend these companies from our personal experience. There are definitely many more, we just haven’t used them enough to recommend them. And even the best company will have bad experiences, but the ones listed here have been consistently reliable for us. Most can handle international shipping and customs too. Use your judgment and ask for references if you are not comfortable.
If you have any problems or concerns, give us a call, we’re happy to help. Ann Korologos Gallery, (970) 927-9668 or art@KorologosGallery.com