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Earthquake Preparedness: Protecting Your Fine Art

Updated on November 1, 2014
Art damaged in the 2010 Haiti earthquake, awaiting conservation efforts
Art damaged in the 2010 Haiti earthquake, awaiting conservation efforts | Source

Earthquakes and Fine Art

Earthquakes are beyond anyone’s control and an aspect of life that millions of people face everyday. As collectors of art know, natural disasters such as earthquakes tend to have a devastating effect on not only the people but those collections that they have invested in as well. As there is no sure fire way to completely protect a collection during such an event, there are at least several things that can be done to minimize the damage, both physically and financially

The Advice

First and foremost it is important to insure your artwork. Coverage can be under a homeowners policy or a separate policy altogether. However having the correct coverage on your valuables is important in the case of any natural disaster so you can be properly reimbursed for the work should anything happen and the work is unsalvageable or needs to be repaired.

The second important aspect is to make sure your artwork is properly secured. For framed works that means properly mounting them on the wall with the correct supporting hooks which depends on the artwork. In the case of heavier framed works, do always nail them into studs so that when an earthquake does happen they will be properly supported. For free standing works such as sculptures and ceramics, make sure they are properly weighted down either with pellet beads or a mount. Being sure to keep them a proper 3-inch distance from the edge, so if/when they do move it is not down to the floor in pieces.

The last important thing to keep in mind is that the art is never to take precedence over your own safety during an earthquake. The urge may be to go to the wall and steady your Carmen by Marc Chagall because it’s a limited edition and rarely comes to the market instead of seeking shelter in a doorframe, but don’t. No work of art is worth your life, and if you have insurance on the piece then you are properly covered for what may come.

Being Responsible Means Being Informed

A wonderful place for information is the United States Geological Service Earthquake Hazard Program as people often forget earthquakes happen everywhere and no location is immune. Earthquakes are unfortunately an unknown fact of life, but properly preparing your art collection for one is knowing how to be a responsible disaster planner and art owner.

Other Helpful Websites:

How to Hang a Picture:

Map of Global Plate Tectonics
Map of Global Plate Tectonics | Source

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