People love their collections. No matter the type of object — cookie jars, military memorabilia, fine art prints — collectors want to add to a collection, display their assembled objects, and learn more about their treasures.

Many collections include family heirlooms or assembled collections that will be handed down, so preserving a collection is very important. Here are some key points about how to protect, preserve, and enjoy your collections.

Light is the real problem when it comes to preservation of paintings and works on paper. UV protection, using UV-filtered or opaque materials, is key to preventing fading and light damage.

One of the best ways to preserve fine art is to invest in quality framing. For an oil-on-canvas painting, a frame will protect both the stretcher and the canvas, as well as give a finished look to the painting.

Unlike paintings, which should not be framed under glass as a general rule, prints require a different type of protection. Prints and other works on paper, like antique maps, historic documents, etc., should be matted and framed under glass using materials that are free of acid in order to protect the paper.

For framing fragile works on paper, acid-free materials, like mats and storage boxes, should have a pH level of 7.0 or greater at the time of manufacture and adhesives that are pH neutral.

Some acid-free materials are made free of lignin, which can produce acid and darken paper, a process known as tanning or acid burning.

Some of the most critical damage to art and antiques happens when objects are stored. When you first put them away in storage, everything is fine, but over time, changes in temperature and humidity — and other effects that occur when no one is looking — will affect the condition and value of an antique collection.

Store objects in archival boxes intended for a certain type and size of collectible. Support is necessary for fragile objects, and storage containers need to be well constructed to stand the test of time. One size does not fit all when it comes to storage.

Large paintings should be stored off the floor, preferably hanging up. If there is no room for that storage solution, then store large paintings standing upright. While it may seem convenient, never lay paintings flat, face up under a bed.

Smaller paintings may be stored upright, back-to-back and face-to-face, on separated shelves. Use acid-free, foam-core dividers to prevent the wire from the back of one painting from scratching the front of another painting.

There are specific techniques to protecting art. Good rules of thumb are to handle with care, display works of art away from direct sunlight, and store works in areas where temperature and humidity fluctuations are minimal.


Dr. Lori Verderame is an author and award-winning TV personality on History channel’s The Curse of Oak Island. With a Ph.D. from Penn State University and experience appraising 20,000 antiques every year nationwide, Dr. Lori presents antique appraisal events and travels the world lecturing about art, museums, and history. Visit or call (888) 431-1010.

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