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Preserving your artworks.

Art can transmit emotions. It gives us a sense of humanity and it can even take our mind to another place sometimes. Owning an artwork has a sentimental value but it can have an economical value as well. No matter the value of the artwork itself, one of the functions of picture framing is preservation. The frame is meant to enhance the artwork without distracting the eye from it but at the same time it has to protect the piece of art that is contained inside. We have discussed the importance of glass in picture framing and the use of mount board on previous posts but today we are taking it a bit further talking about the ideal conditions to preserve art for future generations.

Light damage is the most extensive and difficult to avoid. Drawings and works on paper get particularly affected by light. Depending on the length of time of exposure and the intensity of the light source, the effects on the artwork will be more visible and in some cases, irreversible. Ultraviolet radiation (uv) is a major contributor to damage but its effects can be minimised by using the correct glazing. A Guild Certified Framer (GCF) has expert knowledge in the use of glass and which one is suited to each type or artwork and environment conditions.

Temperature is another factor to consider when preserving art as it is always best to keep your artworks in cool and stable conditions. Recommended standards for the preservation of archival documents specify a temperature between 16ºC and 19ºC. This is what generally happens in museums and other cultural organisations but if you are keeping the artwork in your home always avoid drastic changes in temperature and keep your artworks away from sources of heat like radiators or fire places for instance as high fluctuations in temperature will affect both the frame and the artwork.

Humidity can be really destructive for art as well. Very often we see mould or other damages affecting the framing itself and the artwork inside. An increase of the relative humidity conditions in a room can cause paper to expand for instance and low relative humidity environments could be the cause of cracking and flaking on paintings. Extreme changes in temperature and humidity will damage the artwork and can even affect the frame. Ideally, keeping artworks at a temperature of 10ºC - 25ºC with relative humidity of about 40% to 60% should be desirable. However, best practice and experience has always led us to follow advice from art restorers and art conservation professionals to understand how to preserve artworks in the appropriate conditions depending on each particular case.

Always remember that memorabilia or any other work of art can be severely damaged by the environment. Framing valued objects will help to display them in a protective case to preserve them for the years ahead. Conservation and museum framing techniques only use materials and processes that are adequate for the preservation of the artworks but nothing lasts forever so it is important to keep in mind the life span of each material recommended by the manufacturer.


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