Paper is a medium with endless applications, but it is also extremely fragile and sensitive to outside influences. Things like light exposure, moisture, and tearing can drastically impact paper-based artwork to the point where a piece can become unrecognizable due to heavy damage. Because works on paper can get ruined if not handled properly, professional art handlers follow the rules of paper art storage that they developed based on their extensive experience. Here are some of them.
The Key Principles of Paper Art Storage That All Experts Follow
Always Use Acid-Free Materials
Everyone who owns art wants it to stay intact for decades and even centuries so they can pass it down to future generations. Unfortunately, paper is a very capricious material that can get brittle with age. That is because the materials used to create artwork are often not acid-free, meaning the chemicals they contain eventually start to decompose. To prevent paper-based art from decaying, some artists use archival, acid-free paper to paint and draw their masterpieces. Glassine, or pH-neutral paper, can be used to create a barrier between the piece and other works of art that it is stored with. The acid-free paper also prevents chemicals in prints and paintings from interacting with the glass in frames. In other words, archival paper can help you keep your collection vibrant for the years to come.
Light Is Not Your Friend
Normally, spaces utilized for art storage do not have windows because direct sunlight can strip some works of art, like fine art prints, from their colors. While some indirect short-term light exposure will not cause irreparable damage to your collection, it is still better to be prepared. To prevent art from fading in storage, professional art handlers encase paper-based pieces in plexiglas that filter UV lights.
Moisture Is a Hazard
It is crucial for a paper art storage space to have a controlled environment inside. Unframed works of art are especially sensitive to high humidity. Not only can they become damp and buckle or tear, but they can also grow mold and other types of fungal bacteria, as well as attract insects that will destroy artwork. Make sure your art storage space has climate control at all times and allow no abrupt temperature or humidity changes.
Whether you plan on storing your paper art at home or in a storage facility, we hope these tips will help you make sure your artwork collection is being taken good care of.