Shipping Artwork in Aluminium Crates

The UK’s galleries, museums and art centres are filled with a wonderful selection of art. You may enjoy visiting exhibitions, but have you ever wondered how the collection got there? It’s a joy to admire masterpieces and in this article, we’re investigating why aluminium crates are ideal for shipping artworks.

Shipping Priceless Artworks

Photographs, paintings and sculptures are created using a wide range of materials, techniques and styles. Those created by famous artists can be worth millions. As a result, moving them is a serious operation.

Artworks are most vulnerable when they are handled and shipped, as this is when they are most likely to get damaged. However, galleries and private collectors often lend pieces to major exhibitions around the world. In addition, there are hundreds of commercial art fairs and auctions where works change hands.

To keep the artwork safe, the greatest care has to be taken when packaging, manoeuvring and transporting. The process depends on teams of trained handlers, robust and fortified cases and tight security. You won’t find any flashy finish on shipping crates for priceless art. Instead, expect an understated case, with no hint of the contents inside.

If you are interested in the details of what’s involved, The Canadian Conservation Institute produced a detailed document. The Effective Packaging & Transport of Artwork* includes the results of drop, compression and other tests. It also compares the protective qualities of cushioning materials and offers advice on keeping priceless works safe and secure.

Why Are Aluminium Crates Used for Shipping Art?

Packing crates have to be strong enough to protect the artwork, even if the case is knocked, dropped or exposed to moisture or fire. Yet, they can’t be too heavy, as the handlers need to be able to lift them. Fortunately, aluminium crates are lighter than wood, as well as being fire and rust-resistant, which makes them ideal. With a great strength-to-weight ratio, aluminium crates offer the necessary durability without being too weighty.

We have recently been approached by the team responsible for shipping sculptures for a world-renowned British artist. The project requires a series of bespoke aluminium crates to safely and securely ship large art pieces. Our work includes design, manufacture and finishing to deliver exactly what this customer needs.

As specialists in aluminium extrusion, our team are proficient in profile design and fabrication. Sheet aluminium, plywood and foam can be fitted to this frame to create sturdy aluminium crates.

Aluminium Frames & Canvases

Artwork shipping crates aren’t the only use of aluminium in the art world. This versatile metal is used as a paint surface and aluminium extrusions are used to create fantastic picture frames for art.

Painting or printing photos onto aluminium canvases is a popular option. The metal is smooth and solid and the paint adheres to it well. It doesn’t warp or twist when wet applications are put on and the paint glides easily across the surface. The metal adds a different look to the image, which can be desired by the artist.

In addition, aluminium is both UV and non-corrosive. This means the artwork can be displayed outside without fading or rusting.

Contemporary Aluminium Frames

Our extruded aluminium profiles have been used to create bespoke frames for artworks. We cut and shape lengths of extruded aluminium to exact dimensions. As such, we make it possible to frame large or irregularly shaped gallery images.

Aluminium frames can be finished to provide a gloss or matt picture frame. Alternatively, we can powder coat them in any RAL colour to complement the art.

What’s the Furthest an Artwork Has Travelled?

Some collections are exhibited in galleries around the globe, so the works can be shipped thousands of miles. An article by Pack & Send reveals that Salvador Dali’s Crucifixion, Pablo Picasso’s Guernica and Jackson Pollock’s Blue Poles top the list. However, the piece that has travelled the furthest is an aluminium artwork.

In 2003, one of Damien Hurst’s spot paintings boarded the Beagle Probe 2 on its mission to Mars! The artwork did make it to the red planet, a distance of over 380 million kilometres. Unfortunately, the probe and its contents were destroyed when it crash-landed. That was a step beyond the usual damage risks!

Bespoke Aluminium Solutions

If your company requires bespoke aluminium crates, frames or other fit-for-purpose solutions, contact us. We provide aluminium solutions for commercial projects, with design through to finishing managed in-house.

Email or call 01296 431292 to discuss your requirements.