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What is a maintenance manual?

A maintenance manual is a document which details the care instructions for an artwork already produced. It lays down guidelines and recommendations as to how the artwork should be handled, cleaned, packed and if possible restored in case of minor damages.

Why do you need to make a maintenance manual?

The maintenance manual should list the very particular instructions on how an artwork is to be handled so that a collector or institution is aware of the actions that must be taken to maintain and secure the condition of an artwork on a daily and long term basis.

What details should a maintenance manual include?

Your maintenance manual should clearly specify the materials and process involved in making the artwork (if necessary) and clarify the studio's recommendations to maintain the condition of the artwork. This includes, and is not limited to:

Daily Maintenance/Preventive Measures:

  1. How the artwork should be cleaned on a regular basis and what materials are safe and recommended to remove dust from the work.
  2. Is it safe to store artwork or place artwork in areas with direct sunlight? Could this cause fading?
  3. Would the material react to moisture?
  4. Can cleaners be used to clean the frames of the artwork is incased in glass or acrylic? Should any particular kind of cleaners be used?
  5. Any other regular maintenance necessary for the work. Provide a schedule if work needs to be checked at regular intervals.

Corrective Measures:

  1. Possible types of damage that could happen from wear and tear and if any corrective actions can be taken by the party storing the work or if it should be taken in for restoration.
  2. Any troubleshooting tips.
  3. Also, specify any natural decay possible to the artwork, which may be considered part of the work itself so that the party storing the work is aware.

Long Term Maintenance:

  1. Specify how the artwork should be stored and any actions towards its care that should be taken before packing.
  2. Specify packing recommendations for storage and any necessary regular maintenance needed once the work is stored. If the work needs to be checked on schedule (eg. every 3 months once stored, every 6 months once stored, etc.) please do mention that as well.
  3. Specify packing recommendations for domestic transportation.
  4. Specify packing recommendations for international transportation.

You could make maintenance manuals by series, mediums, or for individual works depending on what would be the most time effective and yet provide the most accurate details for handling of works.

Here is a template for a Maintenance Manual :

Click on the image below to download the template.

Alternative resources: