Five Tips for Traveling with Art, Flickr: ell-r-brown

Your Next Art Gallery Visit Doesn’t Have to End Empty Handed!


Local art is a real thrill. I’ve hit galleries in Montreal, Reykjavik and Helsinki – among others – and felt myself drooling over what was on hand. On a trip to the Torpedo Factory in Alexandria, Virginia, I almost pulled the trigger.

And then what would I have done?

Buying art when you’re on vacation is exciting, especially when you get a great deal on something you absolutely love. The only problem, though, is getting your purchase home. You could always have the gallery pack it up and ship it for you, but that can get quite expensive, especially if you’re outside the United States.

A few years ago, I ran into some advice published by an insurance company ahead of New York’s Affordable Art Fair, and it’s just as relevant today:

Get insurance: Whether you ship it or the gallery does, make sure your purchase is insured while it’s in transit. This is when damage is most likely to occur, making insurance that much more important. If you’re tastes run up-market, it’s a small price to pay relative to the value of what you’re buying.

Don’t get lazy: Packing up art (or anything) can become tedious. Unfortunately, it’s also when laziness can have the greatest impact. Use the right materials – and enough of them. If you buy at a gallery or art fair, packing materials may be available on site: take advantage of them.

Move it wisely: Small pieces are easy to carry around, whether in a car or while you’re walking. Large canvases and sculptures, though, can be more difficult. Think about how you’re going to carry your art before you buy it. I remember walking from mid-town to the upper west side of Manhattan with a canvas four feet long and worried the entire time.

Avoid the extremes: Do everything you can to keep the weather and other potential problems away from your purchase. Heat and cold can damage your art, along with water, dirt and sharp objects. Even good packaging isn’t foolproof, so be careful when transporting the newest addition to your collection.

Get ready to learn: As always, don’t be afraid to ask questions, even if you’re an experienced art collector. Talk to the artist, art insurers and the folks at the gallery to learn the best ways to get what you just bought home.

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photo: ell-r-brown

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