A great place for exhebitions. A nightmare for storage matters...
   This summer I had an exhibition with parts of my „Leftovers. Utopia revisited“ Portfolio at the La Rondine Gallery in Bagin di Lucca, Tuscany. Located in an old building it was an amazing location. But for showing photographs it had one big drawback: Built directly into a mountain slope the humidity was really high. Shona Nunan and Michael Cartwright, the artists who own the gallery, are doing mostly amazing marble sculpture, so for them high humidity is not so much of concern.  For a short time it worked perfect (with the help of an dehumidifier running all the time). As a place for storage of photographical materials it would be the worst place you can imagine...

   In today‘s article I want to explain a little bit how to protect your collection and to keep it pristine in order to preserve its value. The number of factors that can lead to degradation is quite high. They are, in no particular order: poor housing, poor framing, poor storage, and the effects of temperature, humidity and pollution.

   The main physical enemies of photographs are direct sunlight and high humidity. But  there also are more hidden ones: adhesives that degrade over time or vapours that can be given off by wood, environmental pollution can be problem too.

The Environment
Keep your fine art photographs away from intense heat and direct sunlight (or unfiltered fluorescent lights). Try to avoid extreme changes in the atmosphere. The warmer the temperature the faster the picture will fade. 
 - The ideal temperature for storage is between 18°C and 20°C.

Humidity is another big concern. Paper, gelatin, dyes are natural products and very prone.
 - The ideal condition of relative humidity is between 30-40%.

 - Pollutants, such as cooking oils, particles from smoking and insect particles, are all causes of damage. Don‘t use plywood furniture for storage as it can evaporate solvents.

The Storage 
 - Store in a flat position.
If you choose to store fine art photography in a shelving unit or box, be sure that the works are in a flat position. Use acid free paper to separate the works or put each one in a separate polyethylene or polyester bag (Mylar is the best).

 - Always use archival materials. 
All used materials should be P.A.T.-approved. (The Photographic Activity Test, or PAT, is an international standard test (ISO18916) for evaluating photo-storage and display products.). 

P.A.T.-apporved storage boxes and a metal cabinet for storing large formats

 - Check on the condition of your artworks regularly to see if any damage has occurred.

 - Never try to clean or restore damaged photographs by yourself. 

If you will follow this basic rules you will  rejoice in your fine art photographs for a long time. And the will keep their value.

More to come...

1 comment:

  1. Have to agree Chris, a gallery is rarely a good place to store your art. Damaged frames, scratched canvas, and yes HUMIDITY. Coming from Australia, humidity is rarely a problem. It was great to have the opportunity to show your work at La Rondine. Thank you