PRESERVING YOUR FINE ART

cherry-pie-3384549_960_720Tips on proper care

By Virginia Newell

The fine art you own is a pleasure and an investment. A little preventive maintenance by the owner will conserve its beauty and value for many years.

Conservation is the professional term for preventive maintenance and implies protecting your fine art. Conservation starts with your knowledge about how to care for your art.

Another important term is restoration, which is treatment of fine art by a conservator. Restoration can arrest, and in many cases reverse, the negative effects of aging, accidents, and environmental damage.

Restoration is only needed when something is wrong with your art. This can mean your art is dirty, torn, desiccated, acid-paper burned, fungus infected, water damaged, or any one of many other categories of damage.

The professional conservator can be thought of as a physician for your fine art. But you must take the first steps in preventing major problems and slowing the aging process.

Basic tips to help you conserve your fine art include: 

  • Use your air conditioning/heating system to maintain a stable environment with temperatures between 63–73 degrees F and relative humidity between 45–55 percent.
  • Keep art out of drafts and away from air conditioning/heating vents and open fireplaces in use.
  • Keep art out of extended exposure to direct light, either artificial or sunlight. Hang art in shaded spots, preferably recessed.
  • Never hang art on damp walls, or store in garages or in attics.
  • Use only 100 percent cotton rag paper, which is also known as museum mounting, to mount your paper art. Only this kind of paper is acid-free. And never use pressure-sensitive tapes.
  • Consult a conservator about deacidification of paper art; this is another important step in conservation.

Protect your fine art. Follow these six steps and use a conservator when necessary.

Virginia Newell is founder and owner of ReNewell Inc. Fine Art Conservation in Columbia. A spotlight on her art restoration skills for individuals and museums, including the Columbia Museum of Art, is featured in the June 2018 issue of CMM, titled “The Art of Restoration.” 

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