How to protect your art from sun damage

There’s a reason why flash photography is banned in galleries. Harsh light can bleach colour, and the same dulling can occur in your own home if you’re not careful.

Purchasing art, particularly original pieces, can be a huge investment in the home, which makes taking care of these prized decor items all the more important.

“It’s hugely important to preserve artworks so that they can be enjoyed for many years to come,” says art consultant, Kate Smith.

“Over time artwork can be affected by the perils of extreme heat, cold temperatures and direct sunlight exposure, and this can cause fading and possibly cracking of the surface.”

Art is an investment, so make sure you’re taking steps to protect yours. Picture: Prudence Caroline

Kate says photography and art prints are particularly susceptible to the effects of direct sunlight.

“They fade with time from the ultraviolet rays reacting with the print pigments,” she explains.

What about paintings, you ask? “Paintings of oil or acrylic are less susceptible to fading, and charcoal manages to keep its depth strongly.”

Mossy greens around the space bring out the texture of the grass. Picture: DKO Architecture/Tom Blachford/Kate Ballis

To ensure your art pieces don’t end up looking like that sun-bleached T-shirt that you left on the clothesline for too long, Kate has revealed her top five tips for avoiding damage.

1. Limit sun exposure

“Never put artworks where they will be in direct sunlight,” says Kate.

“Although the sun moves throughout the day, be sure to have artworks out of direct sunlight and the hottest summer spots in the house.”

Keep your art out of direct sunlight. Design: Arent & Pyke. Picture: Felix Forest

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2. Consider your framing

Give your investment art pieces the same level of consideration when it comes to the frame it will be displayed in.

“Have the works framed under ultraviolet protective glass,” Kate advises.

“These vary in price depending on the UV filter protection, not unlike sunscreen protection factors.”

3. Avoid spotlights

It’s natural to want to illuminate your artworks out of pride for their beauty, but Kate says this is actually one of the worst things you can do.

“Bright lights directly on artworks can have a detrimental impact, both from the harsh light exposure or high temperatures from the light.

“Over time, this can damage paint compounds and pigment.”

Frame your piece using UV protective glass. Picture: Brent Rosenberg

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4. Don’t dust

It’s inevitable, but the collection of dust on your precious pieces will be far less detrimental than your attempts to remove it.

“Enjoy art visually and refrain from dusting the artwork surface,” Kate says.

“All artworks will collect dust over time but this will be less detrimental than somebody attempting to clean down the image with a wet cloth or substance.”

In the case that you do need to rid your piece of dust, Kate pleads you seek the help of a professional.

5. Hands off!

Kate’s number-one piece of advice for extending the life of your artwork and keeping it pristine is to simply avoid over-handling.

“Most importantly, look, don’t touch, your artworks,” she says.

Most importantly, don’t touch it! Design: Molecule Studio. Picture: Derek Swalwell

Originally published as How to protect your art from sun damage by Katie Skelly. Author at