Every art shipment involves an array of considerations regarding its destination and deadline, means of travel, and carriers en route, just to name a few. All these elements need to be taken into account when determining the correct type of travel case for the job. Artech provides three general categories of protective cases, each with a particular practical application. Though each category contains an extensive list of options, for simplicity’s sake we’ll start by looking at the three general types - the soft pack, the skeletal crate, and the full crate – and build an understanding of what it takes to move art and other valuables safely.
The Soft Pack
Though its applications are limited, the soft pack is the most cost effective of the three basic categories. A simple soft pack can be the best solution if a client wishes to carry a piece themselves, or an art handling company will be moving the piece under certain conditions. It can also double as an inner box for a crate. Slip cases, bin boxes, and custom portfolios and boxes are some of the most frequently used.
Slip cases consist of layers. First is a vapor and dust barrier of heavy plastic. A shock absorbing layer of bubble wrap surrounds this, and last comes a confining cardboard case as a protective shell. Bin boxes are made in a similar way for small to medium-sized sculptural pieces as well as groups of two-dimensional art that can be consolidated into one overall container. The portfolio is generally used as a method of containment for unframed works on paper, grouped together by size on hinged panels. The works are kept flat, supported, and protected from creasing and tearing. Custom boxes are basically bin boxes created to specifications for smaller pieces, and can be used as carrying cases.
There are two common types of skeletal crates: the slat crate for three-dimensional works such as sculpture and furniture, and the travel frame for two-dimensional works such as prints and paintings. Slat crates consist of a full base with a cage built around the piece. Bumpers and braces secure the piece within, while the outside is sealed in plastic sheeting. Less expensive than a full crate, a slat crate is good for large pieces, storage, and some transport, though not suited for overseas shipping.
Travel frames are open-faced and constructed of pine with added protective dust barrier panels of lightweight material. The piece inside can be packed with foam bumpers for excellent shock resistance, or securely mounted onto the back of the travel frame to keep the art’s surface from touching any packing material. Like slat crates, travel frames are good for storage. They can also be packed within a full crate for shipping.
Artech builds more full crates than other type. Full crates are sturdy and long lasting and can hold multiple pieces. Since they need to be capable of traveling anywhere by any means, we use a marine grade outer shell in addition to a high level of sealing and insulation. Artech offers four grades of full crates: Basic, Standard, Collector, and Museum.
The Basic crate is designed to save weight, size and cost and is meant for no more than one round trip transport. The Standard crate is often the solution of choice for shipping oversized or heavy works, or keeping several works together in one shipment. It will hold up to more journeys than the Basic crate. The Collector crate provides extra insulation, upgraded joinery and a rain guard, and is a good choice if the artwork is traveling under conditions that may lack climate control. When sending artwork to multiple venues where it will be packed and unpacked repeatedly, our Museum crate is the safest choice. It provides all the protective and insulating features of the collector crate with the addition of bolt closures for even seals and repeated clean access.
Shipping valuable, even priceless pieces can be a stressful prospect. Considering the factors involved in each shipment, and making the appropriate protective choices, can do much to alleviate any concerns. Working with a trustworthy company that adheres to the highest standards assures you that your shipping cases will be the highest quality for any type of shipment. Artech’s years of expertise and our professional staff can take the guesswork out of the process. Whatever and wherever you need to ship, we’ll craft the container that will get your shipment there safely and securely.