Las Vegas Art Rescue: Expert Tips for Restoring Art Shipping Damage

Scott M. Haskins, the President of Fine Art Conservation Laboratories (FACL) and a leading authority in the field, provides his expert insights.

a full body portrait of a victorian-looking man with a large rip going down the center. This is a result of art shipping damage.

Here’s an example of art shipping damage. Due to improper handling, this painting now needs extensive art conservation treatments

Damaged art delivery? Don’t panic! This guide has the steps you need to take right now. As an art conservator with years of experience, I’ve seen countless pieces arrive at my studio with art shipping damage. Shipping mishaps, bumpy moves, and even careless handling at Harry Reid Airport International can leave cherished artworks with cracks, tears, and faded colors. Whether you’re a seasoned collector or a first-time buyer, knowing what to do when disaster strikes can make all the difference in preserving your precious pieces.

Detecting the Damage from Art Shipping:

The first step is assessing the situation with a calm head and keen eyes. Remember, handling damaged artwork can worsen the situation, so resist the urge to poke, prod, or attempt DIY fixes. Here’s a quick guide to identifying common damage without causing further harm:

  • Surface Damage: Look for scratches, abrasions, or punctures on the artwork’s surface. For paintings, check for craquelure (fine cracks in the paint layer) or flaking paint. For sculptures, look for chips or dents. Don’t rub or touch the damaged area, as this could spread the damage or remove loose fragments.
  • Structural Damage: Check for tears, rips, or warping in the canvas, paper, or other support material. For sculptures, look for cracks or loose parts. Avoid moving the artwork excessively, as this could worsen the structural damage.
  • Fading or Discoloration: Observe any changes in the artwork’s color or vibrancy. This could be due to UV exposure, improper storage conditions, or chemical reactions. Don’t expose the artwork to direct sunlight or attempt any cleaning yourself.
portrait of a woman in pre-Victorian dress with extensive cracking and other age-related damage.

Years of improper storage and neglect have ravaged this art piece. It was nearly impossible to transport without causing further art shipping damage.

Find the Right Specialist for Damage in Art Shipping:

Once you’ve identified the type of damage, the next crucial step is finding the right professional to help. Remember, not all art conservators are created equal! Here are some tips for finding a qualified expert near you:

  • Ask around: Thankfully, Las Vegas has a robust art industry, so there are lots of potential resources out there for you. Talk to other art collectors, gallery owners, or museum curators for recommendations. Personal referrals are often the best way to find a reputable conservator.
  • Check credentials: Look for conservators who are members of professional organizations, such as the American Institute for Conservation (AIC) or the International Council of Museums (ICOM). These organizations have strict ethical and professional standards.
  • Research online: Use online directories like the AIC’s Professional Directory or the ICOM’s Find an Expert database to locate qualified conservators in your area.
  • Schedule consultations: Contact several conservators and schedule consultations to discuss your artwork and the damage it has sustained. This will help you assess their expertise and find the best fit for your needs caused by art shipping damage.
before and after pictures of the painting conservation process of a Madonna & child painting

Nuestra Senora De Los Angeles before & after FACL’s art conservation treatments.


  • Don’t delay: The sooner you seek professional help, the better the chances of successful restoration. Delaying treatment can worsen the damage and make it more expensive to repair.
  • Document everything: Take clear photos of the artwork and the damage before moving it. This will be helpful for the conservator and for insurance purposes.
  • Be patient: Art conservation is a delicate process that takes time and expertise. Trust your chosen conservator and be patient with the restoration process.

By following these steps, you can navigate the stressful situation of a damaged artwork and ensure it receives the proper care it deserves. Remember, your treasured pieces deserve a second chance, and with the help of a qualified art conservator, you can bring them back to their former glory.

Bonus Tip: Las Vegas’ dry climate can pose unique challenges for artwork preservation. When storing your art, consider using a humidifier to maintain a consistent humidity level and protect your pieces from cracking or warping. Don’t forget to consult an art conservation professional to assess the conditions that your art pieces need.

Air purifier with ionization in the room on a light background, close-up.

I hope this guide helps you navigate the unexpected and keep your art collection safe and sound. Remember, prevention is always better than cure, so handle your artwork with care and store them in a controlled environment. And if disaster strikes, don’t panic – there’s always hope for restoration!

Need Help With Your Insurance Claim? 

Dealing with ruined paintings is stressful enough. Let us help you with your insurance claim for art shipping damage. Fine Art Conservation Laboratories’ 45 years of expertise in preserving and restoring art offers invaluable help and practical knowledge for helping people through the insurance claim process for damaged collectibles and art pieces.

Our experienced team understands the complexities of insurance claims related to art, heirlooms, and antiques, providing reports that are properly prepared with information that the insurance company never puts in doubt. Fine Art Conservation Laboratories charges flat fees for this work, not a percentage of the claim settlement, and our expertise is honored nationwide. Let us help make the art, heirloom, and collectible part of the insurance claim process as seamless as possible and preserve your peace of mind. 

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