Displaying your prints and photographs

The enemies of prints and photographs are heat, humidity, light, and air pollutants. As a result, a museum might utilize a climate-controlled room with purified air for long-term storage.

In choosing a location to display your artwork, a room with moderate, non-fluctuating temperatures is probably best. Overly damp rooms, such as basements, kitchens, or bathrooms, aren’t good locations. Nor are hot attics. And don’t display your artwork where a heating or cooling register might blow warm or cool air directly on it.

Just as light can fade upholstery, light can fade photographs and prints. This can be minimized by displaying your artwork away from windows or bright light. Indirect light is best. It will also help to display your artwork under glass or plastic, both of which block some of the ultraviolet light found in sunlight and fluorescent light.

Some framing materials can be a problem because they can contain acid or they give off pollutants, both of which can damage your artwork. We use acid-free foam board and matts for this reason. When you select a frame, choose one that does not give off pollutants. For example, inexpensive wood frames may be made of pine, which emit chemicals known as terpenes. Terpenes give pine its distinctive aroma, but they are considered pollutants, and they can damage artwork. We tend to prefer metal frames because they are inert.

If properly prepared and cared for, there is no reason that your prints and photographs can’t last for 100 years or more.