Practical and Useful Archival Storage Tips
Firstly we recommend that you assess your current storage methods and whether your treasured memories, documents or collectables are in a safe and secure environment, in particular the condition and location.
Are they exposed or subject to:
- Light, in particular, sunlight?
- High and/or fluctuating temperatures?
- Damp conditions and excessive humidity?
- Dust and dirt?
- Ordinary paper, card, metal, pvc, etc. that could cause possible chemical reactions if in direct contact with your precious items?
- Insect or vermin attack?
- Poor handling and folding?
- Lack of organisation?
- Indexing and recording with pens or felt–tip pens?
- Excessive weight bearing?
- Adhesives, tape, sellotape and lamination?
- No back-ups (if applicable)?
The above list should be considered as a list of things to avoid, as each factor could in itself cause lasting and permanent damage to your collection – from fading and discolouration, to tarnishing, scratches, creases, staining etc.
- Always handle with care, trying to avoid fingerprints etc. and for sensitive, rare and delicate documents and coins use cotton gloves.
- Always ensure your collectables are clean and free from moisture, dust and dirt before storing.
- Try and keep to a constant moderate temperature with low humidity, good air circulation and away from direct sunlight, and if possible not in an area that could be subject to unstable conditions such as a cellar, loft or garage.
- Always use ACID–FREE storage and material of archival quality.
- If you have to use glue make sure it is photo-safe/solvent-free, alternatively use photo corners or stickers.
- Index and label your collection - try not to write directly on any of your photos or items but use caption inserts or label pockets instead.
- If using digital media storage always keep back-ups, preferably more than one.
Why use acid-free materials?
If a material is acidic and comes into contact with other materials, it can migrate and may cause lasting damage and decay leading to discolouration or eventually disintegration. By using acid-free materials this can be avoided as well as slowing the natural aging process of your collectable or image.