The number of senior clients we have moved who have sizeable artwork collections has grown significantly over the past few years. Although we are not art experts, here are a few pieces of wisdom we have collected along the way to help with sorting and liquidating fine art.

Whether your rightsized home is larger or smaller, today’s open floor plans mean fewer walls on which to display those prized paintings and family photos. This can be a challenge when a family member wants to move a large collection of artwork into a smaller space “see what looks good”. Here are some approaches that will reduce the potential clutter, confusion and labor.


If you have a floor plan of the new space, count the walls available for framed pictures. A 12 foot wall can hold about 3 large pieces, 4 to 6 medium and up to 10 small framed pictures. Allow space for tall furniture such as curio cabinets. Estimate the total number of framed pieces that will tastefully fit onto the available wall space. This is the number of pieces that should be tagged for moving.

Group family photos by timeframe and/or event, choosing one or two to represent that wedding or birth. The rest can be given to family or friends, or removed from their frames and stored or digitized.

With fine artwork, select pieces that evoke strong positive memories and feelings of joy. Let family and friends decide if they want any of the other pieces. Make sure a tight deadline is kept on decision-making. It’s a good idea to keep a record of who received a particular piece of art if it has monetary or historic value.


How should you determine if your collection is worth trying to sell? If you think your family’s artwork collection is worth something, have it appraised by a professional art appraiser. Check the Art Association of America on their website to find a qualified appraiser in your area. Just remember that the current value of a piece of art is in the eye of the potential buyer, not the owner!

If the artwork is a specific style such as Southwest or primitive, you can search online for a gallery or art dealer that specializes in that genre or that artist.

Example: We assisted a family whose parents collected a popular western artist’s paintings. We found a gallery in New Mexico that featured that artist and sold most of the pieces to them, which made everyone happy!

Are you or one of your family members the artist? In that case, gifting and creatively displaying your treasured pieces will become a wonderful way to forward a legacy that others will appreciate for years to come!

Kim Stanley, Downsizing Specialist

Check out our Facebook page for more information