- Written by Dr. Lori Verderame Dr. Lori Verderame
People love their collections. No matter the type of object — cookie jars, military memorabilia, fine art posters — collectors want to add to an existing collection, display their assembled objects, and learn more about their cherished treasures.
One of the most important and interesting aspects of collecting is preserving art, antiques, and collectibles for the long term. Many collections include family heirlooms or assembled collectibles that will be handed down to younger generations, 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 the preservation of paintings and works on paper. UV protection using UV-filtered or opaque materials helps prevent fading and light damage.
One of the best ways to preserve fine art is investing 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 once it is on the wall.
Paintings exist best when kept out of direct sunlight and hung away from elements that may spark temperature and humidity changes, such as heaters, radiators, and air conditioners.
Prints require a different type of protection when it comes to framing and display. Prints and other works on paper — such as antique maps, historic documents, and the like — should be matted and framed under glass using materials that are free of acid.
Acid-free materials, such as mats and storage boxes, should have a pH level of 7.0 or greater, and the adhesives used in the framing of a fine art print should be pH neutral to protect fragile works on paper.
Some acid-free materials are made free of lignin, which can produce acid and darken paper; this process is known as acid burning or tanning. Avoid acid burning or tanning whenever possible.
Some of the most critical damage that happens to art and antiques happens when objects are stored. Although it is little known, significant damage can occur during storage.
When you first put an antique object away in storage, everything is fine, but over time, changes in temperature and humidity can occur. When no one is looking, other effects may take place that will impact the condition and value of an antique or collection.
It is important to store objects in archival boxes intended for a certain type and size of collectible. Physical support is necessary for fragile objects, and storage containers, such as archival boxes, need to be constructed to stand the test of time.
What you put into a storage box along with an antique, such as acid-free tissue paper, is as important as the storage container.
One size does not fit all when it comes to archival storage.
Large paintings should be stored off the floor, preferably hanging up, even in storage locations. If there is no room for a hanging storage solution, then store large paintings standing upright in a closet or storage area.
While it may seem like a convenient place to store paintings, never lay paintings flat, face up under a bed. This will put stress on the stretchers and the canvas itself.
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 frame or canvas on the front of another painting positioned next to it.
There are specific techniques to protecting art. A good rule of thumb is 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 the award-winning Ph.D. antiques appraiser on History channel’s No. 1 hit show about the world’s oldest treasure hunt, The Curse of Oak Island. For more information, visit www.DrLoriV.com and www.YouTube.com/DrLoriV.