April Hann Lanford, DPR Art Rescue, LLC

After the Hurricane

Practical Tips to Maximize the Recovery of Water Damaged Art, Antique and Furniture Collections

The most common cause of art and historic artifacts damage during the hurricane is exposure to water, humidity, and high temperature. Often, hundreds of paintings, photographs, prints, drawings, sculptures and historic pieces of furniture may survive wind and flood, but without electricity and air conditioning the collections are often exposed to the environment which is conducive to the development of mold and mildew. The following are a few recovery tips that may help you save your precious collections from flooding and environmental damage:

  • Before entering the damaged property, please check with local authorities it is safe to return.

  • Take images and videos of the collection upon arrival.

  • Identify priority items.

  • Contact a conservator to assist with the recovery and triage of affected items.

  • Time is of the essence, the sooner the items are addressed, the more successful the treatment results.

  • Wear gloves and respirators when handling items.

  • Relocate items to a secured, climate controlled environment.

  • To help deter mold, the works should be staged in a well lit, climate controlled environment with fans for air circulation.

  • If a climate-controlled facility is not immediately available for object relocation, open the doors, windows, and the vents to created cross ventilation and to minimize mold growth.

  • Look for detached elements and fragments, store in bags with the item for future treatment.

  • Remove drawers from wet cabinets to remove water and wet items, as well as to facilitate drying and deter mold growth.

  • Do not force swollen drawers open as that may cause further damage.

  • When moving compromised items, please be aware that they are likely structurally compromised, and handled accordingly to avoid further damage.

  • NEVER ASSUME THAT A PIECE IS A LOSS. It is amazing what can be successfully recovered. Always check with a conservator for options.

  • The sooner a conservator is contacted, the better the potential results of recovery.

Need Assistance? Contact DPR Art Rescue national hotline:

Call: 888-377-5669
Text: 312-344-0331

Detail of an oil painting on canvas housed within a gilded frame, recovered from contaminated flood water