Cultivating an art collection is about far more than selecting one’s next purchase. Beyond acquiring new pieces—a task that involves informing oneself about artists old and up-and-coming, styles both classic and cutting-edge—much of a collector’s focus goes into the practice of careful and consistent maintenance of the pieces they already own.

From where a piece should be displayed to how it should be cleaned, here artist Soler Santos sheds light on the dos and don’ts of caring for one’s art collection.


Do consider more than where a painting might look best

The most important rule is to keep paintings out of direct sunlight. Exposure to direct sunlight leads to the intensity of the painting fading—it will damage and alter the colors over time. If you absolutely must hang it by a window, try to get one-way tint so the heat and light will bounce off the surface.

On that note, don’t consider the bathroom

The high humidity levels will not do a panting any good.

Do wrap up

When it comes to storing a painting for long periods of time, it’s a good idea to use bubble wrap to ward off dust. In general, of course, paintings with glass are easier to wrap. But if that’s not the case, make sure the textured part of the piece faces outwards, so the plastic doesn’t affect the painting. You can also use cardboard cornersso that that is the surface the bubble wrap touches, and not the canvas itself.

Don’t skimp on storage protection                     

For paintings and collages that you’re going to put in storage, keep them away from direct sunlight as well, and make sure they are stored somewhat elevated, and not on the floor, in case of flooding or spills. It’s also advisable to invest in a dehumidifier, which gets rid of water content and moisture in the air, so they don’t get absorbed by the paintings, leading to mold.

Do rotate pieces on display

In terms of maintenance, it isn’t necessary to regularly take paintings out of storage—as long as they were stored well from the get go.  Although, I do like to rotate hanging, so that you can enjoy the art.

Don’t clean up after yourself

As far as cleaning goes, light cleaning or dusting with a feather duster is usually fine, as long as you don’t wipe over exposed canvases. However, it’s really better to go to professionals for cleaning, because they know what types of cleaning agents are appropriate for the specific type of paint and medium used and what will not damage the work. It’s a safety precaution, because you will run the risk of damaging the work if you don’t know what you’re doing.

A painting should be thoroughly cleaned if there is presence of mold or heavy dust due to poor storage. That’s unlikely to happen if your paintings are already properly stored to begin with. It can get expensive, so if you don’t know who to go to, ask around galleries or museums you frequent for referrals of professional cleaners and restorers.

Interview by Arianna Lim.

Art by Maine Manalansan

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