onservation framing and museum framing are specialist services provided by Fine Framers for items of significant financial, historical, or sentimental value.
With conservation framing and museum framing, the item being framed won’t suffer damage over time from the sun’s rays, from adhesives used, or from any other aspect of the framing process.
It will prolong the item’s life while still allowing it to be displayed for viewing and admiration by others.
All our conservation framing and museum framing is carried out to the very highest standards of the Fine Art Trade Guild, which is the leading institution for framers in Ireland and the UK.
Three of our staff members are specially trained in conservation framing with the Guild, with one of them being trained to advanced level.
We know of no other framers in the area who can offer such high levels of expertise.
When is conservation framing or museum framing recommended?
We recommend you consider conservation framing or museum framing in all cases involving items of high financial, historical, sentimental value.
The specialist materials and procedures used will protect valuable artwork, for example, and will prolong the life of 3D objects such as jerseys, baby shoes/clothes, or other items.
One of our expert staff members will talk you through the measures involved and their benefits when you bring the item(s) to us. Together, we will decide the perfect framing plan for you, after full consideration of the item(s) and your budget too.
The very best type of framing
The high standards required of both conservation framing and museum framing can be seen from how they rank at the top of the Five Levels of Framing guide, as laid down by the Fine Art Trade Guild:
|Museum Framing||To offer the ultimate level of protection from the environment and framing materials for up to 35 years in normal conditions. Frames should be professionally examined every five years.||Museum quality works to be preserved for the future, including high value items and art of potential or historical value. Processes must be fully reversible.|
|Conservation Framing||To visually enhance artwork and offer a high level of protection from physical and mechanical damage, airborne pollutants and acids generated by framing materials, for approximately 20 years under normal conditions. Frames should be examined every five years.||Collectable Artwork that is to be kept for future generations, e.g. original paintings and limited editions of moderate to high value. Processes must be fully reversible.|
|Commended Framing||To visually enhance artwork and offer a moderate level of protection from airborne pollutants and acid damage for around five years in normal conditions.||Replaceable artwork of limited commercial or sentimental value, and where visual appearance is important. Preferably processes should be reversible.|
|Budget Framing||To provide a visually acceptable frame at a budget price. No pretence is made to protect the artwork or its long term appearance.||Replaceable artwork of no commercial or sentimental value.|
|Minimum Framing||To provide a basic frame at minimum cost, where price considerations override visual appearance and quality.||Temporary display. An inexpensive product into which customers can insert their own work.|
Benefits of conservation framing and museum framing
Perhaps the best way of describing the benefits of conservation framing and museum framing is showing what can happen if these techniques are not used.
For example, this is what happens to a plastic moulding frame if it gets a hard knock on a corner. The material becomes brittle over time and is therefore easy to break. At Fine Framers, we use only real wood frames for conservation framing and museum framing. This superior material will prevent cracks like this from occurring.
Here is a photo that was previously framed but which became badly faded over time (see the difference at the edges of the photo, which were protected from sunlight by the mount that was used). The fading occurred because the frame had regular float glass, which offers no UV protection. This photo is ruined.
This frame of prize winning rosettes and photos celebrated a number of successes at a regional sale and show. It was framed on black mountboard and with regular float glass, but was then hung in a position of direct sunlight. The mountboard has severely faded from its original black colour and the photos have faded too, again because UV glass was not used.
You can avoid all these issues by opting for conservation framing or museum framing when first having your item(s) framed. Our expert staff will help decide on the best framing technique for you.
Materials used in conservation framing and museum framing
We use only superior specialist materials in all our conservation framing and museum framing projects, to ensure the best results possible.
Specialist UV or museum glass is used to prevent the usual problem encountered with standard float glass, of the item(s) being framed becoming faded over time.
UV glass is glass specifically designed to block penetration of UV light, which will dramatically reduce the fading effect of the sun’s harmful rays.
Museum glass has all the benefits of UV glass but also significantly reduces the levels of reflection you will experience when viewing a glazed frame. It is more expensive but it may be the best option for some framing projects where it is important to minimize light damage and retain maximum visual impact.
Three different types of mountboard are commonly used in framing:
- Cotton museum mountboard – Made from 100% cotton fibre and containing no post consumer waste (recycled pulp) It is usually buffered with an alkaline reserve and has a high level of lightfastness.
- Conservation mountboard – This board is made from chemically reduced wood pulp and contains no post consumer waste. Conservation mountboard is buffered with an alkaline reserve. There is no specification for lightfastness.
- Standard mountboard – This board is made from chemically reduced wood pulp or mechanically beaten wood pulp and may contain post consumer waste . Most standard boards are buffered with an alkaline reserve.
In practice, if standard mountboard is used, evidence of acid burn will develop over time, in the form of brown stains. This can be avoided by choosing cotton museum mountboard or conservation mountboard instead.
Another strategic use of mountboard is to prevent the problems that occur when a piece of artwork is framed in direct contact with glass. If a piece is framed this way, changing temperatures and conditions mean that condensation will gather on the inside of the glass surface, thus damaging the artwork. The artwork may even permanently stick to the glass.
However, by using a mountboard with a window mount, an air space is maintained between the artwork and the glass. This is the prime function of using a window mount in a frame assembly.
As specialist suppliers of conservation framing and museum framing services, we take great care with the types and quantities of adhesives used.
Others not so well versed in conservation framing and museum framing techniques may use cellotape, masking tape, and even packing tape. This should be avoided as their use will damage artwork irreversibly if they come into direct contact with artwork and objects to secure them in the framing assembly.
Where tapes and adhesive are required, we use only water reversible and pH neutral types. These are specially formulated to prevent any damage being caused to the artwork.
We also take great care with the moulding (framework) being used in all conservation framing and museum framing projects.
We make sure the moulding has a deep enough rebate to hold the glazing, window mount, artwork, undermount, and back board. It must be strong enough to support the whole package.
The mitred corners are glued as well as pinned. If the moulding is to come into direct contact with the artwork, the inside rebate of the moulding is sealed to protect the artwork.
Fittings and hangings
Finally, we ensure that the fittings and hangings to be used do not adversely affect the artwork or other item(s) framed either.
We make sure that the hanging fittings are adequately strong and secure. We also attach pads or buffers to the bottom corners of the frame. This is to allow air circulation over the back of the item(s) framed, as air circulation is important to prevent mould forming and transfer of dampness from a wall.
Care of conservation framing and museum framing items
We offer the following advice for care of items that are framed using or conservation framing and museum framing techniques and expertise:
- Framed pictures should not be stored upside down or on their sides. Doing so may cause the artwork mounting hinges to give way, and/or the artwork to slip inside the frame.
- When stacked, pictures should be back to back and face to face, to avoid damage from hanging fittings.
- Pictures should be hung out of direct sunlight, and away from heat sources such as radiators as extreme changes in temperature should be avoided.
- Care must be taken when cleaning the glazing to ensure none migrates behind the glazing.
Contact us for conservation framing and museum framing needs and advice
If you have an item that may require conservation framing or museum framing, or if you would like further information on what is the best option, just contact us for expert and no-obligation advice.
You can also call to us at Wexford Road Business Park, Carlow, during normal opening hours: 9.30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday to Saturday (Closed for lunch 1 to 2 p.m., and closed all day Sunday)