Thursday, May 19, 2011

Hanging Pictures With Care

Original photograph of
my grandfather.

Even though deep down I feel like it’s cheating, I’ll endorse this advice nevertheless:  Put the original photograph in storage and display the facsimile.  Except for you, no one will know the difference.  And your descendents will thank you.

Exposure to light will change the original photo.  Therefore, put the original someplace safe – preferably a dark place where temperature and humidity are at appropriate and fairly constant levels.

The great thing is that facsimiles don’t have to be treated with that level of care.  Except for the expense of creating them, you can even consider them disposable.  This means that you can display the facsimile in sunlight. 
Or you can hang it over a heating vent. Don’t worry.  
It’s replaceable.
A digitized image awaits matting
and framing.

Most homes – including ours – display a mix of original material and high-grade copies (facsimiles, prints, etc.).  I asked Laura Hortz Stanton, Director of Preservation Services at the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts, for pointers on “best practice” display of photographs, art on paper, and other items sensitive to light, humidity, and temperature fluctuations.  Here’s what Laura recommends:

1.  Invest in high quality facsimiles.  Hang them wherever you like and preserve the originals in long-term storage.

2.  Consider high quality framing for original items, with UV glazing to serve as a level of protection from the light and a sealed package with zeolites to protect from humidity.

3.  Hang any original artwork in areas of the house with minimal light exposure and some assurance of stable temperature and humidity.

© 2011 Lee Price

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