PMG Environmental Standards and Guidelines for Storage

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Photographic Materials Conservation Catalog
Environmental Standards and Guidelines for Storage of Photographic Materials
Please also see AIC's Main Category Environmental Guidelines

Date initiated: September 2009
Contributors: Luisa Casella, Stephanie Watkins

The Photographic Materials Conservation Catalog is a publication of the Photographic Materials Group of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works. The Photographic Materials Conservation Catalog is published as a convenience for the members of the Photographic Materials Group. Publication does not endorse nor recommend any treatments, methods, or techniques described herein.

Purpose of Environmental and Storage Guidelines

  • Identify the variety of complex and interwoven forces that effect change, and thus, the preservation of photographic materials.
  • Utilize the most recent information to maximize the chemical and physical stability of all photographic materials while in storage.
  • Minimize changes in the image, binder, and support from agents of change, such as light exposure, temperature (heat, freeze-thaw cycles, cool storage, cold storage), humidity, pollution, storage container or collection material off-gassing, or any other environmental or storage ­related factors.

Storage Environment Factors to Consider

Effects of Storage on Photographic Materials

Standards, Guidelines and Recommendations

Cool and Cold Storage

  • Art Institute of Chicago (IL, USA):
  • Amon Carter Museum of American Art (TX, USA): Cool is 60°F, 40% RH, Cold is 20°F, 30% RH, and a vestibule for acclimatizing photographs between the two is 40°F, 35% RH (all temperatures ±3°F) (Panadero, 2019).
  • Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas at Austin (TX, USA) (nitrate and acetate film vault):
  • Indiana Historical Society (IL, USA): Temperature and RH set points are 50°F and 35% RH.
  • Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (TX, USA):
  • NARA (National Archives and Records Administration) (MD, USA):

Equipment and Materials

Storage Techniques for Photographic Materials

References

General Care

  • Connecting to Collections Care (C2C). Dynamic, constantly changing FAIC online community with numerous resource links for care of photographic materials.
  • Elkin, Lisa and Christopher A. Norris 2019. Preservation Conservation: Collection Storage. Joint publication of the Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections; American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works; Smithsonian Institution; The George Washington University Museum Studies Program.
  • Image Permanence Institute. Collections environmental monitoring, engineering solutions, Object temperature and humidity recommendations (in PEM2 monitoring software), among other services and information.
  • STASHc (Storage Techniques for Art, Science and History Collections). Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation. Accessed July 5, 2020. https://stashc.com/.

Photographic Materials Specific

  • Panadero, Laura. 2019 (June 12). Blog on presentation of Amon Carter Museum of American Art 3-year cold storage expansion project, Fernanda Valverde. American Institute for Conservation 47th annual meeting (2019).


(>>>Editor note: needs a search for cool and cold storage; re: Topics, JAIC, IIC, WAAC, community forum, etc.)



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