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Art and photos capture what memory can’t. They seize an idea or a moment in time and preserve it forever, creating something you can look back on. But like memory, they require careful preservation to maintain. If you need to store art or photos for a long time, follow this helpful guide to get you started safely storing art and photos.


With most art you have two things to worry about: pigments and physical materials. Acrylic paint is best stored underneath glassine paper, a wax paper that is resistant to nasty stuff like moisture and dust. For oil paintings, make absolutely sure that nothing touches the surface. If you bought it new from the artist, you should also make sure it’s dry. Oil can sometimes take over a year to dry completely!

As for physical materials, common sense applies. Wood and wooden frames should be bolstered with cardboard and wrapped in tissue paper. Clean them only with a microfiber cloth to avoid scratches. Moisture is obviously a concern for metal, and frames should be wiped with just a little oil to help seal them properly.


With photos, the rules aren’t so different. The number one killers of photos are moisture – which can ruin inks – and UV light, which can fade color. Treat photos like you do food in your pantry: store them in a cool, dry place. Temperature also matters for photos, but perhaps not as much as it does for paintings. Think sturdy, opaque plastic boxes or three ring binders with acid-free sleeves like these.

The best long-term solution for photos is to digitize them. You can do this yourself with a cheap scanner and a large hard drive; even a humble 1 terabyte model, around $50 these days, can hold up to two million of them. Even then, hard drives require similar careful storage techniques. They are particularly susceptible to drops and vibrations, which can dislodge the delicate components inside.

Do you have precious works of art or irreplaceable family photos? When the closet is out of room and the attic isn’t good enough, consider self-storage! Hillsborough Self-Storage offers both standard and climate-controlled storage units to keep your memories safe. With units ranging in size from a small closet to almost a full garage, we can handle your collection no matter the size! Contact us today for a free quote.

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