5.1.3 Storage and Handling

February 10, 2021 - 1:44pm by Anonymous (not verified)

In all cases, archivists should consult with the appropriate curator and the Preservation Coordination Librarian to determine storage options. 


In most cases, oil, acrylic, and other types of paintings on canvas, panel, or board, should remain in frames, preferably under glass to protect their surface. Framed paintings without glass should be wrapped in acid-free paper or Tyvek to protect the surface from dust, other environmental pollutants, and abrasion. Do not use Mylar, as the static can lift paint flakes from the surface.

Framed works stored in boxes should be enclosed in polyethylene foam sheets (such as Volara) before being housed in boxes custom-fitted with polyethylene blocks (such as Ethafoam) to prevent shifting. Framed works too large for storage in boxes on folio shelves should hang in the Art Storage area.

Oil paintings without frames should be framed if deemed sufficiently important. Otherwise, store them individually and flat in folders and boxes.

Works of Art on Paper

Works of fixed media on paper (e.g., watercolors, prints, and some drawings) may be unframed, interleaved with acid-free paper, and grouped in folders, or for more fragile or important works, mounted in standard-size acid-free window mats with the image covered by acid-free paper or a cover mat. Various standard sizes of oversize boxes are available for storage of these materials; special boxes (e.g., Solander box) may be obtained to accommodate special cases. (Solander boxes are used for more fragile or important works; standard boxes for less vulnerable material.)

Works of friable or unfixed media (e.g., charcoal, chalk, or pastel) should be kept framed, under glass (not Plexiglas). If not framed, consult with the appropriate curator and Preservation Coordination Librarian regarding appropriate housing options.

Some works on paper should remain framed for aesthetic reasons, or because the frames have association or artifactual value (e.g., frames that are handmade, vintage, or particularly beautiful, or that were created especially for the work by the artist or owner).

Fragile material in frames should be left framed until completion of appropriate conservation action.