Step 3. Increase object durability (if possible)

Sometimes it is possible to make an object more durable by correcting the attributes that make it susceptible to forces:

  • Attribute 1. Flexibility or looseness in the object or its parts.
  • Attribute 2. Structural features that amplify the effects of forces encountered during shipment.
  • Attribute 3. Materials that are already weak or damaged.

Table 4 provides examples of vulnerable objects and how to deal with them at the object level.

Table 4. Examples of vulnerable objects and suggestions for preventing damage.

Small- to medium-sized canvas paintings with out-of-plane displacement (i.e. bowing out of the canvas perpendicular to the plane of the canvas)


Backing boards (consult CCI Notes 10/10).

Large canvas paintings with out-of-plane displacement


Backing boards (consult CCI Notes 10/10).

Foam inserts (consult a conservator).

Stretcher linings (consult CCI Notes 10/10).

Stretched canvases with weak frames or stretcher bar structures that could scissor (deform)


Backing boards will reinforce the stretcher structure (consult CCI Notes 10/10).

Frames with large pieces of loose ornamentation that could fall on the painting require special consideration.

Large items such as furniture and machinery with weak structural integrity


Verification of connectors and attachments, and tightening if necessary.

Blocking or bracing provisions for transit.

Paintings with fragile paint layers


Stabilization for shipment (consult a conservator).

Contemporary art items with complex assembly (e.g. a skeleton)

#1, #2

Disassembly (if feasible) — the individual parts of an item are often less fragile than the assembled whole.

Improving the durability of an object can reduce dependence on packaging and can protect the object when it is packed, unpacked, or moved in-house.

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