How to Travel With Artwork
Traveling with artwork, whether your own or purchased, requires proper packaging to prevent damage during transit. Packaging methods vary depending on the artwork medium and the delicacy of the piece. Determine the safest method for traveling with the art and verify all the regulations, fees and protection plans available prior to selecting a travel method.
Art Handling Services
For large, valuable or breakable artwork, consider shipping it to your destination via an art handling service. These services have trained personnel and the equipment to properly package and transport the art safely, whether to a home, museum or gallery. Regular shipping companies may also provide artwork shipping services, although they may not be as adept at the proper handling of the artwork. Art handling services are typically more expensive than general shipping companies or traveling with the artwork yourself, but for valuable pieces the expense may be well worth it.
Packaging needs vary depending on the medium of the artwork you are traveling with. In general, a plywood crate works well for large canvases and three-dimensional works, such as statues. A shipping crate custom-sized to the artwork ensures it doesn't move or shift during transit. Use only archival, acid-free packing paper and materials, because materials containing acid may cause degradation of the artwork. Bubble wrap, foam packing inserts and packing tissue should fill all open spaces within the packing crate. These materials provide cushioning and protection so the artwork doesn't shift during travel. Include instructions for unpacking the artwork.
Air Travel Considerations
You may be able to bring small pieces of art as carry-on items. Package the art in a cushioned box or suitcase. Check with the airline before flying to ensure the packaged artwork meets carry-on requirements and that the airplane has the means to stow the art safely. Most airlines allow you to travel with crated artwork in your checked luggage. Baggage fees will likely apply, especially for oversize or heavy items. Multimedia pieces must also fit into security guidelines and cannot contain any materials on the Transportation Security Administration prohibited-items list.
Whether you ship your artwork or travel with it via plane, car or train, it's advisable to properly insure the art. The methods for insuring depend on the traveling method. Purchasing travel insurance yourself is necessary if you are traveling with the artwork. For shipped artwork, the shipping company likely provides insurance or supplies an insurance option. Take pictures of the artwork so you can document any damage that might occur.