The Importance of Conservation:

con·ser·va·tion [kònssər váysh’n]

1.  protection of valued resources: the preservation, management, and care of natural and cultural resources 

2.  protection from change: the keeping or protecting of something from change, loss, or damage 

Encarta ® World English Dictionary © & (P) 1998-2005 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

Conservation in framing often referred to as preservation or archival framing is the protection of your artwork (or photograph, document, child’s finger-painting, etc) from outside forces that are harmful or will accelerate deterioration. The museum standard of conservation is an investment that can ease your mind, increase the enjoyment you get from your artwork, and, done properly, save you time and money on restoration and/or re-framing in the future.

Value is often a form of subjective measurement. Does monetary value outweigh sentimental value? Or visa versa? It is our opinion that all artwork has value, and deserves to be handled accordingly. I often hear the comment “I’m not framing a Picasso”, which is ironic because when most Picasso’s were originally framed they had little or no value. Now framers like us are tasked with taking this artwork out of their acidic mats which are burning and turning them brown and we are finding the art is faded from exposure to UV light and often has non-reversible “foxing” spots from moisture and oxidization; this doesn’t include the artwork that was permanently glued down or is not matted and is now stuck to the glass that covers it. I’m sure when the artwork was originally framed, the owner decided not to preserve it properly by comparing it to a Rembrandt or a Vermeer (“I’m not framing a Rembrandt”)!

Some basic conservation services include acid-free mat-board, which should be 100% cotton rag or chemically purified wood pulp and must test negative for lignin. The matting should be pH neutral (pH 7) or slightly alkaline (pH 8.5). This also applies to the backing board your artwork is hinged to. Hinging your artwork should always be done in the least intrusive, most reversible ways, like using acid free, long fibered Japanese paper applied with wheat or rice starch paste. Glass or acrylic glazing should always be UV filtered to prevent and reduce fading, and should never come into contact with your artwork. An allowance of space should always surround the materials used in framing to allow for the natural expansion and contraction of the materials used. These are just some of the basic techniques and now that you know them, make sure you are using a framer that adheres to these guidelines.

Here at The Page Waterman Gallery, we have a combined accumulation of over 175 years of framing experience and three PPFA (Professional Picture Framers Association) certified framers on staff that understand and can help with all your conservation needs.