If framers understand the properties of art materials, as well as the risks that the environment may pose, then materials and procedures can be chosen that will protect the artwork. Framing practices must also be reversible, so that the adhesives and other materials can be safely removed or reversed by a conservator, even decades from now, with minimal alteration to the work of art.
In a frame designed to meet preservation standards, the materials that surround the artwork constitute a protective envelope. At Bark Frameworks, our fundamental standards are these:
- The matting materials should be 100% cotton fiber, and in most cases, somewhat alkaline to buffer the artwork from atmospheric acidity.
- The glazing (glass or acrylic) must protect art materials that are susceptible to UV damage.
- The interior structure should isolate the artwork from contact with the glazing.
- The framing envelope should allow for movement of hygroscopic materials, such as paper, with changes in humidity; the envelope should be sturdy enough to protect the artwork from external impact.
- Materials in the frame that could damage the work of art, such as acids in wood, must be isolated.