The Importance of Protecting Historic Art

women in art exhibit

Throughout history, we’ve come across a breathtaking amount of impressive works of art that come in many different forms like paintings, sculptures and more. Each piece of art has a story behind it, a reason and a purpose, which makes us ponder the complexity of it. With that being said, we as a society like to go above and beyond to preserve historic art as it has a story to tell from a time in the past but not all efforts are created equal. What’s worse? An exhibit visitor stumbling into a 17th century oil painting by Paolo Porpora and punching a hole in the canvas or losing record of the location of original prints by Albrecht Dürer and Rembrandt?

While both situations above are travesties, one might be more concerned with the location of historic prints because those are something that cannot be replaced or repaired. And that’s exactly what happened at the Boston Public Library.

Addressing the Problem

The Boston Public Library may look like a vast structure on the outside capable of holding a plethora of documents, books and historical artifacts, but the truth of the matter is they are running out of space. This is a prime example to the growing problem among organizations that are responsible for storing and displaying valuable pieces of history, such as the originals mentioned earlier. To put it in perspective, the Boston Public Library has over 200,000 prints and 120,000 chromolithographs in a special collection that includes documents from the Salem Witch Trails to antique art from the 1400s to two historic prints by Albrecht Dürer and Rembrandt. Among all the items in storage, the two very valuable artistic works were moved from their original location in the collection.

The situation does spur a feeling of panic because these timeless pieces should be properly protected, stored and cared for as we can never teleport back in time to obtain an original. While the prints by Albrecht Dürer and Rembrandt were later found 80 feet from where they should have been, it produces the idea that they don’t have adequate space or record keeping capabilities to handle such fragile items. When situations like this occur, a solution must be presented to protect the future of valuable art.


Finding the Solution

When organizations and other institutes such as art exhibits exceed their storage/display capacity, they need an off-site solution to accommodate their growing collection of fine arts and historical works. Just to point out the seriousness of the matter, the prints that were misfiled and misplaced at the library holding a value of over $600,000 respectively, which makes them extremely valuable not only in monetary amounts but in a historical aspect because they date back to the 15th and 16th centuries.

But it’s not only about storage space, it’s also properly storing them in the correct environment. Some institutions house historical pieces in a basement, which we all know is not the ideal situation for works of art. There are many detrimental factors that can cause the prints to deteriorate like moisture, humidity and fluctuating temperatures in which will affect the dexterity of the stored items. Instead of subjecting them to such conditions, these items can be properly stored in a temperature-controlled environment to preserve their originality by using a fine arts storage and moving company.

When art isn’t properly stored in the correct conditions, the environment will wreak havoc on the item. Paint may begin to discolor, canvas may contract and expand which will distort the original work and dust can embed itself onto it. There are so many variables that can eventually destroy the piece, it’s important to always take the necessary steps to protect the art for future generations.

About the Author: Anthony Conetta

Anthony Conetta is the Vice President of Dun-Rite Specialized Carriers based in New York. Dun-Rite has stored, transported and set-up pieces of fine arts for over 50 years and has a vast amount of experience and knowledge handling historic pieces of art. Visit for more information.


Jamie Martinez

Jamie Martinez

Jamie Martinez is the founder/publisher of ARTE FUSE contemporary art platform and the founder/director of The Border Project Space. He is an artist using the concept of triangulation throughout his work. His process involves constructing, deconstructing and fragmenting images, data, and information geometrically into triangulated segments. Follow him @JamieMartinezStudio WWW.JAMIEMARTINEZ.NET

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