Fine Art Shipping

Works of fine art can be the most challenging items to ship. The continued value of such pieces depends entirely upon condition, and when packing and shipping, there are many things that can go wrong. In some cases, you may have had a piece in your family for generations. In other cases, you have finally located a piece you have been seeking for years. You may also be investing through acquisition, or purchasing on behalf of a museum, foundation, university or estate. No matter the dimensions, weight, or medium, we have the equipment, skills, and knowledge to help, with over 28 years of experience in the business. < /p>

If you are in need of packing and shipping services for fine artwork, you can get a quick, accurate shipping quote right now by calling us at Pack and Post at 855.322.9684, or you can use our handy form. You can even email us a picture of any particularly large or unusual item, to give us a good idea of the exact nature of your needs. We can recommend and estimate custom crating and special transportation options. We will get you an accurate shipping quote within 24 hours.

Because of the volatile and fluid nature of the fine art market, it is important to insure items based upon their current value. This is not always easy to determine. There may be no others changing hands on the market for years, so no comparisons can be drawn. Even if other examples are sitting in a museum, their value is still likely to change over time as trends come and go, and as other examples are either discovered or, in some cases, are lost forever in floods or fires. Art also enjoys a cyclical pattern as various mediums and artists come into and pass from the limelight. If you are unsure of the exact value of an item, we can provide you with professional appraisers who are fully certified, are specialists in their fields, have access to thousands of auction records, and can provide accurate documentation that will stand up to insurance or legal investigation.

Fine Art

fine art shipping

Fine art is one of the highest achievements of mankind. Paintings on canvas or stone, lithographs and prints, complex etchings, fragile art glass, pottery, intricate carvings, sculptures, mosaics, dioramas, textiles, and more have been created for pleasure and symbolic meaning over the years. Folk art is often made with unconventional materials. Photography and film opened up the field to visual arts, and advancements in technology brought us new ways to store and enjoy music.

The worth of fine art transcends replacement value because many such items are irreplaceable. Many are one of a kind, others may be parts of a limited edition run, while still other things may have been mass produced at some point, but after years have passed, no one knows how many survive. We are accustomed to handling this kind of quality. We use only professional craftsmen for packing and crating. Your items can be brought to our offices for packing, or we can actually send an expert team to your studio, gallery, or home, to pack and crate the object on site, minimizing the risk of damage. No matter what the point of origination or destination, we have you covered. Since exhibitions, gallery shows, sales and auctions take place at all hours all over the world, we are ready to take your call 24 hours a day.

Part of the fun of art is its volatile nature. Art can be made of string or wire; it can be created by pouring molten metal into an anthill; it can be carved from the bones of an ox. In Victorian times, it was common to make pictures using human hair or bird feathers. Even today, masters are carving huge slabs of granite and marble and welding steel into amazing forms. Interactive installation artwork can fill entire rooms. Huge kinetic sculptures are wandering up and down the beaches of Holland. There is no limit to what can be imagined and realized. This means transportation must be flexible and equally inventive in shipping fine art. Whether you have a miniature portrait painted into a locket, or a grand canvas that stretches 20 feet, we are ready to help you.

Statues and Sculpture

These items can be small, but may also be very large and bulky. The materials from which they are made can vary wildly, causing the weight to often be extremely dense and too unwieldy for humans to move safely without specialized equipment like pallet lifts and cranes.

  • Carvings from bone, minerals, stone, or wax
  • Carved marble, plaster, granite, or wood
  • Cast cement, metal, plaster, resin, plastic or wax
  • Modeled clay, Papier-mache, plaster, sand, or Styrofoam
  • Assembled materials like beads, wire, wood, textiles, paperboard, glue, and found objects
  • Finished materials like acid washes, polychrome, and wax
  • Food sculpture, like butter and ice at exhibits and fairs


Today, we think of a print as something that is made by a machine in a manner of minutes. However, fine art prints can take days, weeks, and even months to create, depending on the style and materials involved. Although an artist may make multiple prints, the first ones made, known as “early pulls” will be more clear and thus more valuable. Later pulls are less defined, and eventually, the series will be ended, usually limiting for quality control. The plates and molds and blocks used were usually destroyed by the artist, although sometimes they can be found and become collectors items in and of themselves.

  • Aquatint, mezzotint, Moku Hanga
  • Engraving, impressing, and embossing
  • Etching, and Intaglio
  • Silk and screen printing
  • Woodblock Printing
  • Linocut, Metalcut, and woodcut


Murals are artworks on walls, and although they are considered stationary, they often must be moved for preservation. Some are small, while others are quite large, and the method of removal can vary depending on the kind of wall.

  • Aerosol Paint on brick or drywall
  • Frescoes
  • Pounce
  • Mosiacs


Paintings are often the first thing people think of when you say the words “fine art”. There are all kinds of paintings, going back for hundreds of years. Paint formulas have changed over time with technology, but some very old pieces were made with paint that used eggs, blood, plants, sand, oil, soot, minerals, and any number of other ingredients to get the desired effects. This means that some paintings are more fragile and sensitive than others to light, motion, and the environment.

  • Watercolors
  • Oil and Acrylic
  • Encaustic or Magna Paint
  • Sumi-e, Stencil and Gouache
  • Work on canvas, board, wood, paper, masonite


Drawings are some of the most beautiful yet fragile works of art. They are often executed on paper, which has differing levels of inherent acidity and changes texture and color over time. Some drawings are made on stone, cloth, wood, parchment, leather, and other base forms, all of which have particular requirements for preservation.

  • Chalk, charcoal or Conte
  • Crayon, Pastel, Graphite
  • Pencil, Pen and Ink, Marker

Ceramics and Glass

Glass and ceramics are now things we take for granted, but there are many ways to make them. In the 1600’s, the height of espionage involved formulas for ceramic slip and glazes between one country and the next. Depending on the mineral combination in the clay, glass, or slip, the art objects can be very sturdy or incredibly fragile. Bone china, for example, is a kind of porcelain with bone ash added to lend it strength, and the early formulas for this were kept very secret.

  • Pottery and Art Glass
  • Stained Glass
  • Fragile reverse-glass paintings
  • Wedgwood
  • Porcelain
  • Tin-glazed and Cloisonne
  • Hand thrown, turned, or coiled clays

Other Media

As technology has advanced, so have the arts. Fine Art is now expanded to recognize important works in cinema, photography, and music.

  • Photographs, negatives, heliography, daguerreotypes
  • Manuscripts and early printing, calligraphy
  • Sound media like wax cylinders, player piano roll, vinyl, and reel to reel tapes
  • Kinetoscope cylinders, celluloid film, delicate nitrate film, old reels
  • Installations


  • White Glove Service

    This is the same level of care we use for museums. It considers dust, oils, light, and even the air itself as factors in quality assurance.
  • Expedited Service

    In some cases, you may need artwork packed and moved quickly for an exhibition or gallery showing. We will provide overnight and other expedited shipping.
  • Custom containment

    We custom build crates from corrugated cardboard or wood, with double-walls or reinforced padding, to suit any item. We have a variety of padding materials, including acid-free paper. If an item needs controlled humidity or temperature, we can allow for that. We can foam-in-place delicate items.
  • Any location or method

    Same Day, Overnight, Ground, Air, Rail, and Ocean – whether you need domestic or international shipping we will find a carrier.
  • Full service

    We provide full retrieval and delivery from and to any location. We can come to your studio, gallery, or home and pack an item almost in situ to minimize the risk of damage. We can unpack and install at the destination, and take away any packing debris.
  • Documentation

    We can provide full documentation and create a clear record for insurance or legal purposes. This is especially important if you are using a shipping method with multiple legs, such as truck to ship to shore to truck. If the piece is being moved internationally, we can assist with customs and the other required paperwork of the target destination.

Tips for Shipping Fine Art

Understand the Medium

Although many of us appreciate fine art, only artists often know the requirements of that art to stay intact and in good condition. For example, fine art glass may require several steps. It should be wrapped in standard wrapping tissue paper with no ink, leaving no glass showing, and secured with masking tape. Bubble wrap should then be layered on to a depth of at least 2”, then secured, again, with the tape. A box with sturdy walls must be selected that allows 4” minimum between all parts of the object and the walls of the box. Pad the bottom with packing materials, but not packing peanuts which can shift in transit. Once the padding is all around, close the box. There should be no motion when it is shaken, but it should not be tightly packed because this could result in crushing. In some situations, this box should then be placed inside another box with a 2” layer of padding on all sides. So, your 8” tall Tiffany vase may need a 22” x 18” box when everything is said and done!

Give Concise Dimensions and Measurements

Be sure to give us precise measurements. If a painting is 24″ x 48″, but it is in a frame, the size of the frame is going to be what we need. A custom crate will have to allow for the frame, plus added room for cushioning and padding for stability. With statuary, knowing the height allows us to calculate if any supporting structure will need to be designed. Estimating the shipping weight of some pieces can be a challenge, and using a moving weight estimator can help. Weight Estimator this will allow you to give us a good idea of what you need. If you want assistance, give us a call any time; also, let us know if the weight you provide is an estimate and how you arrived at it. Knowing the exact dimensions of your artwork allows us to give you the best packing and shipping quote up front. Sometimes an inch in size can mean a different vehicle or kind of crating will be needed for shipping a piece.

Consider Your Shipping Goals

Different carriers may have different limitations. If you need a piece to arrive at a gallery overnight, one service may be better than another. The kind of art your are shipping makes a difference, too. For example, extremely large trucks that can carry steel beams from an outdoor sculpture may not always gain access to residential locations. Be aware of the needs of various art media; some like pastel work or old clay ceramics may suffer from changes in temperature or humidity. Some items need special care if they will be making an extreme change in altitude. Giving us all the information up front allows us to come up with a good plan.

Learn the Costs

Specific kinds of fine art often require specialized transportation. A canister of old nitrate film would need to be shipped in a controlled temperature and with a minimum of vibration. That could add to the base cost of transportation. We will be glad to help you understand the details of any quote we provide.It is not just about the miles covered, but also involves the quality of the shipping.

Obtain Insurance

Fine art is one of the most difficult things to replace or repair. Restoration and conservation specialists exist, but can be very expensive. If there is any mishap in transportation, such as an earthquake, you want to be prepared. Make sure you have an adequate insurance based on not only the fair market value but also the expense of replacement or restoration. A professional appraiser can help and may provide extra services such as filming or photographing your item from every angle, using a magnifying lens when needed. Writing down the provenance, or history, of the piece will help you in working with any insurer. Some shipping carriers have coverage limits, and in some cases you may want additional insurance for a special item. Understanding the value of your piece is important in making insurance decisions. Having professionals help can be useful, and Pack and Post can provide help. Although it is unlikely that anything will go wrong with shipping a piece of fine art for you, it is wise to be covered, just in case.

Know the Rules

Fine art is often at the center of international disputes about ownership and levies. For this reason, it is often under heavier scrutiny that other items. Be aware of restrictions and regulations that may affect shipping if the artwork is going to cross state lines or go to an international venue. Each country will have their own specific export, import, and customs regulations. Duties, taxes, and other fees will also vary depending on the locations involved. You will be asked to provide the country of origin of any work of art as well as declare its value and describe it in some detail.

Clear Communication

Because of the special needs of different kinds of fine art, it’s important for everyone involved in a shipment to be aware of the piece and its schedule. For example, if it is being delivered to a museum, gallery, or auction house, the staff will need to be aware of the arrival and ready to receive it. Security is often very tight at such venues, and special arrangements must be made. Let both your shipping carrier or broker know about special requirements up front, and be sure to give them ample contact information, such as cell phone numbers, email, and land line options for all the parties that will be involved. We can help coordinate this with you.

Types of Shipping Companies for Fine Art


Most works of art are categorized under the heading of “household goods” by freight companies and couriers. It can be LTL, which means less-than-truckload, indicating that your item will share transport with other items, and may stop at different warehouses and locations along the way. You will also hear about truckload freight, which means you have a truck dedicated only to your item and it will go straight from the point of origin to the destination. Air Freight moves more quickly than standard freight, but does not necessarily mean it is flown in an aircraft.

Blanket Wrap

A blanket wrap carrier will wrap each item by hand. Any flaws or damage will be noticed immediately, rather than in the case of a package or crate, where it may not be seen until an item is opened. Blanket wrap generally has lower labor costs, and is environmentally friendly, since blankets and equipment are re-used. This is a good option when delicate art and large fine art pieces are involved. It the item is going to rest in storage for an extended time, a blanket wrap company may need to charge you for the wrapping and packing materials if you want to keep items wrapped in storage.

Van Lines

Van lines usually use actual vans or trucks which are designed for carrying specific kinds of cargo, but may also employ shipping containers. These will offer packing and crating, but sometimes also allow you the option of doing the packing yourself, although this is more risky. Vans often have special fixtures for handling tall statuary securely, padded walls, and come with specialized equipment for moving heavy and awkward objects, such as artwork that is large. You may also need a climate-controlled van if weather is extreme or if the artwork is sensitive to changes in temperature, humidity, or elevation.

Pack and Post is a professional shipping brokerage, so we look at the big picture and have a complete understanding of what is required regarding the shipping of a priceless and irreplaceable item. Most importantly, we are experienced in handling precious and valuable items of all sizes, and coordinating the entire project from start to finish.

Pack and Post has over 28 years of experience, and all the tools for every job. We are glad to help organize the relocation of your important piece. You can relax, confident that every element of the packing, shipping, and even the unpacking and installation at the destination has been addressed. Call now at 855.322.9684 or use our convenient, fast form for a personalized quote!