Packing and Shipping of Cultural Property

This workshop provides an awareness of important issues to consider when crating fragile works of art. It begins with a practical overview of shipping hazards and the susceptibility of artwork to these hazards. Packaging concepts and theory are taught with presentations, demonstrations and hands-on activities. Participants have an opportunity to apply their knowledge by designing a protective package for several highly fragile test items and by conducting drop tests on their designs. Test results provide examples of packaging principles in action and ways that damage can take place. Participants are encouraged to bring objects for discussion and to share their questions, concerns or experiences in packaging and exhibitions.

Learning objectives

Upon completion of this workshop, participants will be able to

  • estimate the intensity of shipping hazards as well as the circumstances resulting in damages (when and where they occur),
  • evaluate the risk that shipping hazards pose to museum objects,
  • understand how damage occurs,
  • reduce the susceptibility of museum objects to shipping hazards,
  • understand shock and vibration concepts and how they apply to protective packaging,
  • choose the best cushion materials for a given packaging requirement,
  • gain familiarity with cushioning and crate design information and tools,
  • identify important features of a protective package and
  • design better packages for highly fragile or valuable objects.


  • Shipping hazards
  • How things go wrong during shipment
  • Susceptibility of art objects to shipping hazards
  • How to deal with complex object shapes and fragile surfaces
  • Cushion design
  • Environmental control during shipment
  • Crating: design alternatives and performance criteria
  • International regulations for wood packaging materials
  • Case studies: an overview of actual package designs
  • Shock and vibration monitors
  • What makes a good shipper
  • Package performance evaluation
  • Information and resources

Target audience

Preparators, conservators, registrars, exhibition designers, art transportation firm employees and artists.


Paul Marcon and Eric Hagan


English and French

Enrollment limits

Minimum 9, maximum 21


Two days

Special requirements

The host institution must provide the following:

  • a lecture hall or small room with a projection screen,
  • a table for demonstration items in the lecture room,
  • a work area (can also be in lecture room) with three tables for the packaging exercise with nearby electrical outlets for hot-melt glue guns or other tools and
  • access to the venue for one day prior to the course to set up demonstration materials and a package test site.
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