Painting Storage Simplified

We thank Brandie Fields, Executive Director of the Orange County Historical Museum, for this guest post.

Framed storage before the project

The painting storage at OCHM bugged me ever since I started last September, and it came up again when I was planning for my inventory and internships this spring. Jon Zachman, Curator of Collections at the Greensboro Historical Museum, had been kind enough to stop by for a visit and help me brainstorm for the inventory and expressed his concerns over the storage of the paintings as well. I knew that we needed the space and needed to do something different with those framed objects. That’s why I was glad that C2C’s Painting Workshop with Conservator Perry Hurt was coming up so that I could ask him the best way to store them. Hurt showed us how to store framed works upright, and when I explained my situation to him, he suggested making painting racks with carpet until I could get a storage unit. (Keep your fingers crossed for that NEH grant to come through.) So, after setting all of the pieces upright in a little-used corner of the room, I went about finding materials and constructing these racks during our spare time.


  •  Wood– 2′ x 4’s Ours came from mysterious black posts I had found stored in the collection’s room (taking up A LOT of space). Turns out at one time they had been used to display textiles? I had a board member bring a saw and cut the bases off and the posts to ~ 2 ½ feet long.
  • Carpet– I put out the call through our monthly e-newsletter for CLEAN carpet. Luckily one of my Board members recently did some remodeling.
  • Foil– This was the only thing I had to buy. I wanted to put a layer of this between the wood and carpet, since I had no clue how old the wood was, what type it was, or what type of paint had been used on it.
  • Staples and Staple Gun– Handy tool everyone should own, this is how we attached the carpet to the wood.


  1. Find Materials. I got lucky that we had most of the materials at the Museum and it didn’t take long for someone to come forward with some carpet. My backup plan was to find and beg local stores/companies that sell or install carpet. The only thing I had to purchase for the project was the foil. It wasn’t hard to find someone with a saw to cut the wood either, I decided on shorter pieces due to the space constraint in our collection room. Plus in the future, if I do get the painting storage unit I want, I can re-use the small pieces to make a platform for other collection objects.
  2. Remove hidden nails and cover with foil. I got 2 27sq. foot rolls from the local Dollar Tree and still have some left over.
  3. Measure and cut carpet. This was the most labor intensive/annoying part. We did not have carpet scissors or blades. We tried several methods, including box cutters, normal scissors and fabric scissors. My staff person decided that normal scissors, while cramp inducing, made a cleaner line and were easier to handle. We left ~1-2 inches more at the top and bottom. Initially we cut so that the carpet would wrap around itself, but when we began stapling we realized our staples were not long enough to go through 2 layers of carpet. After briefly considering tying them with twill tape, my staff person began meeting the two edges together and stapling them on the back side. So for the first few, the carpet bows out around the wood but once we realized what we were doing, we cut the rest to fit more tightly.

Framed storage project completed

So overall, I would say it took us 3-4 hours to cut, foil, and carpet 14 individual units. Total cost for project: $2.14 for the foil; the rest we already had/was donated.


About collectionsconversations

This blog will contain posts from the C2C project staff on a variety of topics related to collections care and disaster preparedness. Enjoy the posts and let us know if you would like additional information or have a topic you would like for us to address.

Posted on August 3, 2012, in collections care, Connecting to Collections, guest bloggers, museums, storage, workshops and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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