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Packing Artwork for Transit: Established Practices and Underlying Principles

This course will illustrate and explain established standard methods for packing art and artifacts, the materials used, and their best applications. Attendees will learn why different methods are used and when they might be the best choice for your institutions.

Included in the instruction and related discussions, the 10 agents of deterioration, the six risk factors for transit, multi-purpose potential of different systems (overlapping functions of handling, shipping, storage, display mounts) as well as environmental sustainability will be addressed.

The hands-on portions of the course will focus on methods and materials that have the most “direct impact” (literally) on objects being moved. Soft-packing methods and selection of contact materials along with tray and inner box fabrication will be stressed. Also systems that can function to stabilize objects in transit will be discussed along with the proper use of cushioning materials as illustrated in the two seminal “Art in Transit” publications from 1991.

With an understanding of established standard methods and materials, more recent innovations created or adapted from other sources will be discussed and demonstrated. Notable successes using alternative methods as well as some inherent limitations will be outlined.

Additional benefits include:

  • Guidelines for large and small scale collections relocation projects
  • What to ask for and expect when hiring a fine arts service provider
  • What to consider when reviewing or establishing your institutions packing/crating specifications

Course Dates

July 6-8, 2020

Course Fee


Early Registration



T. Ashley McGrew

About the Instructor

After eight year working in collections care at the University of Oklahoma Museum of Art, T. Ashley McGrew went on to play a key role in the New York packing and crating departments of Fine Arts Express FAE and then Artex FAS.

Following that work, Ashley was in charge of on-site collections management and packing of over 800,000 Native American objects moved from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian’s Bronx, NY location to Suitland, MD. One of the most successful large-scale collections move projects in the past two decades, its innovative packing systems were efficient, effective, and set standards for sustainability due to a combination of cyclical packing and transport and the introduction/adaption of non-traditional materials.

While acting as a lead preparator at the John Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, Ashley co-authored the Packing and Crating Chapter in the MRM5 – Museum Registration Methods revised edition. In addition, he continued his involvement with the packing and crating community acting in a leadership role for the Preparation, Art Handling, Collections Care Information Network (PACCIN). He is a member of PACCIN’s advisory committee and acts as PACCIN’s liaison to the American Institute for Conservation’s Collections Care Network.

Ashley is also a contributor to the online resource Storage Techniques for Art, Science, and History Collections (STASH) and an invited inaugural member of the Materials Working Group (MWG). Ashley is a frequent speaker at national and regional museum association meetings and preparators conferences. He is currently a preparator at Stanford University’s Cantor Art Center.

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