Conservation Framing

If you are looking at having something framed, that is because you value it.  Items of historical, resale, collectible or simply sentimental value you will want preserved from the environment.  But you also want it protected from the methods and materials used to frame it.  Anything you would like preserved for the enjoyment of future generations is a candidate for conservation framing.


What is Conservation Framing?

Conservation Framing is to employ methods and materials to ensure the object being framed is protected from harmful environmental factors while not compromising its condition or integrity. No process that is irreversible is used in framing the artwork.  The best way to preserve your art is to keep it wrapped flat in acid free materials and stored in a climate neutral dark place but it’s difficult to enjoy your collection that way. Conservation Framing allows for the safe display of artwork while avoiding deterioration from exposure to the environment.

What are environmental factors harmful to artwork?


Light: Any amount of light is damaging to artwork over time, even in darker rooms. Colors will fade by UV rays from natural and fluorescent sources alike, either direct or indirect sources. Paper absorbs high-energy photons, which through a chemical reaction break down the paper over time causing it to brittle.  Images will fade, paper will discolour and adhesives will lose thier effect.


Heat and Humidity: Warm and moist conditions invite the growth of mold and bacteria. Framed artwork should be kept away from sources of heat or water in your home.


Moisture: Moisture in the form of condensation can collect inside the framing if subjected to radical changes in temperature or humidity. Glazing should never be touching the artwork in the frame. Using a mat or a spacer will allow an area for air circulation and prevent condensation from soaking into the paper.


Dirt and Dust: Pollution in the atmosphere can combine with moisture in the air to form acids that will cause damage to works on paper.  

What are the elements of Conservation Framing?

Frames: complement your piece, but the frame choice should be also strong enough for the size and weight of the art and provide enough depth to allow for air circulation or any necessary reinforcements within the frame.  Woods also contain acids that should be kept away from your art by acid free materials like mat boards and spacers.


Glazing: Glass or perspex that filters out harmful UV rays is necessary for conservation framing. The highest quality acrylic or glass will shield your art from 97% of damaging UV light. All UV coated materials are also available with anti-reflective coatings to reduce glare and provide amazing clarity for the viewer.  We have a range of glass and perspex with different levels of UV protection, including museum quality glass for the ultimate protection.


Matting: 100% acid free cotton rag mat board with no artificial pigment is the traditional and historically proven choice for conservation matting. Alkaline buffered wood pulp based boards are a new innovation. These boards are made with molecular sieves that trap acids present in the environment and lock them away from the art.  Matting is also used to create space between your art and the glass, permitting airflow and preventing moisture build up.


Hinging the Art: Hinging is the process of attaching the art into the matting. The hinges are tailored to each piece based on the weight and substrate of the artwork. The weight of the hinge should be slightly less than the weight of the paper. This ensures that with any stress, movement during shipping for example will cause the hinge to give rather than the art to tear. All hinging must be able to be reversed at a later date and not cause discoloration with age.


Backing: Any backing boards used to support the piece from behind should be stable and rigid as well as archival and acid free.