Packing and Shipping Tips for Fine Art

When you are shipping fine art, it gives a whole new meaning to “shipping and handling.” These are not items that can be easily replaced with another off of a warehouse shelf. One of a kind pieces of art deserve and require one of a kind art shipping services. The precious works are best left to professionals who know how to handle, pack, and ship art, but here are some tips if you would like to do it yourself.

Gather Your Toolkit

If you are doing a one-time move of your own pieces of art, you may be able to use the tools you have at hand. If you are an artist who will be shipping your pieces frequently, or plan to do frequent shipping for others, then you will want to make sure your tools are high-quality and durable. You will need:

  • Heavy duty sharp boxcutter – if shipping multiple containers, replace the blade after every 4 or 5 boxes
  • Tape gun with adjustable tension
  • T-Square – to make modified boxes
  • Sharpie – for clear cutting lines for modified boxes and labeling
  • Box sizer – essential for secure boxes with little void space
  • Shipping scale

Steps In Packing Art

Shipping art is not like packing for moving. You cannot just wrap a painting in bubble wrap or newspaper and ship it out. You will destroy it. Take these steps to protect your 2-dimensional paintings, portraits, and photos as much as possible:

  • Wrap with acid free paper or plastic
  • Wrap with palette tape/plastic wrap
  • Build a frame around the artwork with foam board so the face of the painting does not touch the paper or plastic when you wrap it
  • Create custom-sized box for the piece of art
  • Place the first smaller box inside a slightly larger custom-sized box
  • Fill with bubble wrap or foam
  • Use highly-visible stickers that read “FRAGILE,” “DO NOT LAY FLAT,” and other shipping instructions like directional arrows to indicate orientation
  • Write your name on every side of the container
  • Include container opening instructions on outside of box
  • Include unwrapping instructions on top of inside of box (and rewrapping if it will be returned to you)


  • Use high-quality packing materials including double wall cardboard boxes or crates, packing tape, foam and bubble wrap.
  • Do NOT use styrofoam peanuts. They can shift during shipping leaving voids that can result in damage to your art pieces. In addition, they are not environmentally friendly.

The best packing tip is to requisition professional art shipping services such as Museo Vault. The staff has learned how to ship art through years of experience in museums and galleries. Their white-glove art shipping services will treat your pieces with the delicacy and professionalism needed. Contact us today to discuss your art shipping needs.