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Art Collectors Need To Keep Cool As Temperatures Rise

WARREN, N.J., June 9, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- As the heat index rises, art collectors need to take extra measures to help protect their valuables from the effects of high temperatures and humidity. 

"Paintings and other works of art on paper expand and contract in response to changes in temperature and humidity, and canvasses can become looser or tighter, often changing shape," says Laura Murphy, a fine arts specialist with the Chubb Group of Insurance Companies. "Particularly during the summer months, collectors will want to take steps to prevent surface distortions, paint flaking, mold growth, staining and decay."

Wood furniture and gilded frames absorb moisture when the humidity levels rise. If the gesso primer layer beneath a frame isn't thick enough to flex with the expansion and contraction of the wood, then it can flake and detach, Murphy said.

Chubb's team of fine art and collector specialists offers these recommendations to help protect fine art and furniture from deterioration:

  • When a room is not in use, draw the blinds, curtains or shades and turn off the lights to create a cool, dark environment. Paint is organic, and it can degrade in blazing heat. Light, especially ultraviolet sunlight, can cause irreversible fading or color change, especially in paper, textiles and photographs.
  • Keep the temperature and humidity in the home as constant as possible—65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit and 55% to 65% relative humidity.
  • Don't turn off the air conditioning before leaving even for a short weekend getaway. Temperature fluctuations can loosen the joints of antiques.
  • Do not store fine art in your basement or attic where it can be exposed to dramatic temperature fluctuations, floods and leaks. Create an art closet with horizontal racks and a locked door. Wrap and store framed artwork front to back in a vertical position.
  • Frame all art. Paper, textiles and photographs should be hung with museum-quality materials by a professional art hanger.
  • Install water alert sensors in areas of the home susceptible to water damage, including above ceiling trays and under washers, dryers and radiators.

Chubb's team of 20 fine art and collector specialists across the United States provide consulting and other services to clients who have a Chubb Valuable Articles policy. The specialists have extensive expertise in assessing risks in homes, offices, galleries, art warehouses and other locations where collections may be kept. They can provide fire protection and security recommendations and general conservation and restoration advice. They also offer referrals to the Masterpiece ® Protection Network, which is comprised of independent experts in appraisal, collection management, shipping, storage and security.

Most of Chubb's fine art specialists have degrees in art and worked at museums, galleries and auction houses before joining Chubb. All of them have completed an intensive proprietary Chubb training program to become fine art specialists.

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