(Excerpt from ART HARDWARE: The Definitive Guide to Artists’ Materials, by Steven Saitzyk © 1987)
Over the years I have come across a number of novel, methods of storing artwork. One of the more noteworthy was that of a collector who stored his art collection in his wine cellar; after all, the paintings were old and valuable like the wine. Unfortunately, the artwork was not sealed in bottles like the wine, and was subject to mildew, mold, rot, insects, and rodents.
Storage of artwork involves protecting it from excessive humidity and excessive dryness, and from insects, rodents, and acids. In addition to the archival boards and papers, there are materials such as storage boxes and envelopes for Mylar encapsulation, that are specially designed for use by museums and conservators. Such materials are primarily for the storage of collections that are not, for whatever reason, to be left on exhibition. Some of these materials can also be useful to artists who wish to use such ready-made storage containers rather than make their own. These products have yet to work their way into the aver-age art supply store, and it is not within the scope of this book to review these products. However, there are several mail-order companies that deal in these materials and a catalogue can be had upon request. The Light Impressions Corporation, 439 Monroe Ave., P.O. Box 940, Rochester, NY 14603, is among the more commonly known mail-order houses from which a catalogue can be had.
Below is a list of suggested remedies for the most common storage situations that the average artist and collector confronts.
1. Framed artwork and stretched artwork should be stored in racks that will allow for the circulation of air and exposure to some light to prevent the growth of fungus.
2. Unframed paper artwork should be stored in flat file drawers that are lined with museum board and contain packets of boric acid. The flat drawers will protect against mechanical damage. The museum board will protect against any acids present in the drawers, particularly in wooden drawers. The boric acid will prevent silverfish. (The General Pest Service Company produces Dekko Silver-fish Paks, which contain boric acid and are easy to use.)
3. Paper artworks may be stacked upon one another if they are separated by pH neutral slip sheets.
4. Unstretched canvas paintings may be stored rolled if they are first allowed to dry thoroughly, then rolled around a thick tube with the painted side out and the surface protected with a glassinelike paper. The painted side is placed on the outside because any cracks that might form from this type of storage will be pushed back together when the canvas is unrolled. If the painted side is rolled inside the tube, the paint film might cure in this compressed state and larger cracks may result when the painting is later unrolled.
5. Metal flat file drawers are best when insects are of primary concern, and wooden flat file drawers are best when humidity is the primary concern.