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:

  1. Light, in particular, sunlight?
  2. High and/or fluctuating temperatures?
  3. Damp conditions and excessive humidity?
  4. Dust and dirt?
  5. Ordinary paper, card, metal, pvc, etc. that could cause possible chemical reactions if in direct contact with your precious items?
  6. Insect or vermin attack?
  7. Poor handling and folding?
  8. Lack of organisation?
  9. Indexing and recording with pens or felt–tip pens?
  10. Excessive weight bearing?
  11. Adhesives, tape, sellotape and lamination?
  12. 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.


  1. Always handle with care, trying to avoid fingerprints etc. and for sensitive, rare and delicate documents and coins use cotton gloves.
  2. Always ensure your collectables are clean and free from moisture, dust and dirt before storing.
  3. 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.
  4. Always use ACID–FREE storage and material of archival quality.
  5. If you have to use glue make sure it is photo-safe/solvent-free, alternatively use photo corners or stickers.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.