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Frequently Asked Questions

How should I store photographs?

  • Photographs should be stored between 14º-16ºC (68ºF) and a relative humidity between 30-40% RH, ideally. At least the temperature and relative humidity should be consistent. Humidity above 60% speeds deterioration while very low humidity can cause prints to crack, peel or curl. Storage at lower temperatures is particularly advised for contemporary colour prints.
  • Avoid exposure to anything containing sulphur dioxide, fresh paint fumes, plywood, cardboard and fumes from cleaning supplies. Photographs should be stored in proper enclosures of an archival quality e.g. plastic or paper materials, which are free from sulphur, acids and peroxides. If the relative humidity cannot be controlled consistently below 80%, plastic enclosures should not be used because photographs may stick to the surface of the plastic. How do I find conservation materials?
  • In particular, avoid acidic paper envelopes and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic, rubber bands, paper clips, and poor-quality adhesives such as pressure sensitive tapes. Buffered enclosures are preferred for deteriorated photographic prints on poor-quality mounts.
  • Avoid the cheap, readily available photo albums, especially those with sticky adhesive pages. In general only use materials which are of archival quality.

Please refer to the booklet: Preservation of photographic material (PDF format 500KB)