Moving Antiques and Artwork | Home Moves Specialist

A modern room view with a fireplace and chandelier.

Before you plan your home move, or carry out major renovation or redecoration works, one of the main aspects to consider would be the protection and safe keeping of your valuable items such as art, furniture, antiques or photographs.

The safest option is to put these delicate items into specialist storage facility, ideally climate-controlled storage to safeguard your belongings.

If you’re planning to relocate to London, you’ll know there’s plenty to think about. Finding a home, discovering the metropolis, settling into a new job… Whether you’re coming alone or with family, from the UK or abroad, it’s likely that you have an exciting but complex process ahead.

If you’re a lover of fine art or antiques, however, planning your London home move becomes even more complicated. Your prized belongings are expensive, delicate and unique, and moving them poses a specific set of challenges.

In this article, we’ll explore some of the primary concerns and issues that arise when preparing to move antique furniture and artworks. We’ll also offer some guidelines on what steps you can take to help ward off those issues and ensure your collection arrives safely.

Moving Antique Furniture

If you have an antique furniture collection, or even one or two beloved heirloom pieces, you’ll want to take special care to ensure that these are not damaged during the moving process. It’s also important to minimise exposure to factors that can affect the condition of your antique items.

Moving, lifting and handling are all sources of stress, and they all heighten the risk of accidental impact, dropping or surface damage. Accordingly, careful planning is required before the actual removal process begins. It’s crucial to inspect every piece carefully and identify any weak points or existing damage. You should also plan to remove any loose elements, such as drawers, and disassemble larger pieces where possible.

Each article should be packed individually and with care, using suitable materials. The Smithsonian Museum suggests three layers of packaging: protective wrap, shock and vibration protection, and a protective shell. When handling the pieces during packing and moving, avoid wearing jewellery, perfumes and anything else that might scratch, mark or otherwise damage fragile surfaces. Wash your hands well and wear nitrile or cotton gloves where appropriate – the oils on your skin can also be damaging.

When moving the items, it’s a good rule to move each piece only once. The move should be planned to avoid potential obstacles and hazards, and larger pieces should never be left to just one person to handle. It’s best to have multiple people on hand to help with lifting and to keep an eye on proceedings during loading and unloading. Lift pieces, never drag them – and plan to take plenty of time in order to avoid rushed and sloppy handling.

Moving Artworks

When moving artwork, one basic rule is that each piece should have its own, appropriately sized box. This should protect it from shock, vibration, impact, and environmental factors such as humidity and dust. You can buy protective shipping boxes in a range of sizes from specialist providers, but the ideal solution is to have boxes custom-made for each piece you plan to move.

Whether you’re dealing with a historic oil painting, a rare sketch or an avant-garde piece of sculpture, artworks are exceptionally sensitive. Like antique furniture, they should only be moved and handled as is absolutely necessary. Flat items such as framed pictures should be stored upright and placed in such a way that they cannot shift, or worse, fall over in transit.

Storage exposes artworks to a range of risks, from flooding to pest infestation to mould, and precise care must be taken in choosing the location and setup of the storage facility. This guide from the University of Delaware’s Department of Art Conservation gives an overview of the potential issues and how to guard against them. Human interference is another hazard to be considered. Make sure that any storage facility you choose has excellent security in place and will keep your details, and those of your art collection, completely confidential.

Safety along the chain

Any removals process that involves antiques, artworks and other rare and/or fragile items requires particular safeguards. After all, these pieces are unique and cannot be replaced. It’s not enough to make sure that each individual step of the process is done correctly – appropriate measures need to be in place throughout the entire chain, with seamless handover from stage to stage.

Theft is always a risk when transporting high-value goods, so it’s also crucial to have the right financial protection in place and to ensure that your items will not be left vulnerable at any point in the process. All transport and storage companies involved should be carefully vetted. It is strongly advisable to hire specialist antique furniture or fine art movers. You should only work with those who have appropriate security, monitoring and risk management procedures in place, and who can demonstrate an excellent track record.

Depending on the pieces in your collection, the entire chain may need to be temperature- and humidity-controlled to ensure that your possessions are not subject to extreme or fluctuating conditions, which may cause irreparable damage. If your items will be stored for any period of time, storage premises must have the correct ambient conditions as well as the right location and security. Staff must be trained in handling and caring for antiques and fine art.

It’s also important, if possible, to plan how you will display and store your collection in your London property. Unloading and unpacking your valuable items is a process that carries its own risks, and this should also be done carefully, with plenty of time and adequate personnel. You can never feel quite secure until each piece is safely installed in its new home.

Moving and storing artwork and antiques is a complex process that requires time, care, expert knowledge and comprehensive security measures. Rather than take on the burden yourself, why not put your collection in a safe pair of hands?

At Cadogan Tate, we have over forty years of experience in handling, moving and storing fine art and antiques. We’re trusted by museums, galleries and high-net-worth private clients in London and all over the world. For more information about our services or to request a bespoke quotation, just contact our team.