A picture frame is a decorative surround edge, usually made of wood that is used to enhance and protect an artwork. Together with the mount and glass, their job is to protect exhibited artworks from environmental damage. Environmental damage can be caused by acid, damp and light. Artworks stored under normal humidity conditions away from light and separated by acid free paper will retain their original condition for longer.
Framing a picture to preservation standards requires the making of an acid free sandwich in which the artwork is not exposed or in contact with acid.
Acid is a byproduct of the breakdown of lignin. Lignin is present as a binder in all wood. Mount card that is made from wood potentially contains Lignin. Today, most quality mount cards have been chemically treated to remove lignin and are consequently pH neutral. Manufacturers guarantee that the core of “white core card” will stay white for 25 years. Studies have shown that today’s PH neutral materials, used by all good framers, will last up to 100 years without perceivable acid damage.
The tell-tale signs of acid damage in older framed artworks can be seen by a brown staining of paper, a browning of the mountcard’s bevel edge and a brittleness of the paper. These are a thing of the past, however, as most materials today are PH neutral, so its not really a concern.
If you are concerned about the preservation of an artwork on paper, ask your framer about cotton based mountcards, more costly, but they will add a degree of longevity to an artwork’s preservation.
Museum grade mountcard
Museum grade mountcard made from cotton fibre is truly acid free, more expensive, but will last much longer.
The framers job is to ensure that your artwork can.
- Be extracted at a later date in its original condition
- The frame and mount are put together with PH neutral materials, or acid-free.
- The picture can be restored to its original state. By that I mean, it has not been cut down, had irremovable glue or tape attached to it or has been damaged in any way.