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Archival framing

Also known as conservation framing

In archival framing, all materials are acid-free and can be quite expensive.
In archival framing, all materials are acid-free and can be quite expensive.

In archival, or conservation framing, everything that touches the photograph is acid-free and resistant to pH change.

This means that instead of using mounting boards, mats and backing supplies composed of wood pulp, museums, better galleries or anyone seeking a high degree of permanence for their framed pictures will employ archival framing mats and backing made from “rag board”, which contains cotton fiber, and which may also have an alkaline buffering agent added.

Framing materials with rag content can be relatively quite expensive. Acid-free materials without rag content, including mounting corners and mounting strips, are also available.

Adhesives (liquids, tapes, rice and wheat starches, etc.) must also be acid-free.

If you want to use a natural wood frame but still keep your photo acid-free, you must seal the edges of the frame with a sealer such as an acrylic painting medium or water-based wood sealer. Make sure you apply at least three coats.

A special, and relatively new, type of conservation glass is available. It is expensive, costing as much 10 times the amount for clear glass. But, it gives photographs the highest possible UV protection, about 98 percent.

Other features of conservation glass are that it minimizes image distortion and apparent loss of sharpness caused by some types of non-glare glass, and it comes in clear and non-glare forms. The coating used on this type of glass, however, scratches easily so if you decide to use it, handle it carefully. And don’t rely on the UV-protection qualities of conservation glass for total light protection, because strong visible light rays from direct sunshine can still cause image deterioration.