Art on paper is fragile and vulnerable to environmental conditions, but awareness and a few precautions can keep your art protected and a valued treasure for a long time to come.
Light, particularly from the sun or fluorescent lighting, can cause permanent damage to drawings and prints. Avoid hanging art in direct or reflected sunlight. Draw blinds during the brightest part of the day, and consider rotating the artwork. Special sleeves on fluorescent tubes can filter out ultraviolet rays.
Temperature and humidity are also hazardous to artwork. Ideally, humidity should be 50% and the temperature 70 degrees Fahrenheit. High humidity, or extremes in humidity, can cause paper to swell and buckle, and encourage the growth of mold and mildew. Try to maintain a steady temperature throughout the year, and avoid hanging or storing artwork in attics, basements, over fireplaces, near air conditioning ducts, or in kitchens and bathrooms. Also, when cleaning glass or acrylic, use a damp, not wet, cloth and never spray with a cleaner.
Selection of a knowledgeable, professional framer will ensure proper protective materials are used in the preservation of your artwork. If purchased already framed, have your framer check for proper framing and materials. Should your artwork, despite your best care, become damaged, do not attempt to repair it yourself. Your framer can refer you to a professional conservator.
Works of art have many natural enemies. Don’t be one of them.