The Best Archival Methods for Storing Your Family Treasures

You can preserve various precious items indefinitely when you use good archival methods. Family documents, historical images, and decades-old garments all require similar conditions to stay in good condition. Low humidity, comfortable temperature, and zero direct sunlight create an ideal situation for sensitive and delicate items like these. But there’s even more you can do to protect those cherished objects passed down through the generations.

How to Use Archival Storage Boxes and Sleeves

It’s worth investing in the right kinds of storage materials to conserve your cherished items for your grandchildren. Below are the best archival methods for storing common types of heirlooms:

  • Photographs and Negatives
    Photos and negatives should be stored in acid-free archival storage boxes. Keep the box at room temperature or lower, with no more than 40 percent relative humidity (cool and dry). Don’t expose the archival boxes to direct sunlight, air vents, or atmospheric pollution. Photos and negatives should only be kept in plastic sleeves if humidity is kept very low. Never store glass plate, nitrate, or acetate-based negatives in plastic sleeves, as their images easily transfer to the plastic surface and destroy the negative.
  • Slides
    Acid-free slide storage boxes are the smartest way to keep your slides safe. Keep the box inside a cabinet to provide added protection from dust and light. Always wash your hands before handling slides, and take care to touch the image as little as possible.
  • Important Documents or Letters
    Letters and documents of historical importance require special care and storage. Acid-free envelopes, matte boards, and clear storage sleeves can protect these items from insects and sun damage. As with photos and slides, keep aging papers in a cool, dry storage space.
  • Antique Textiles and Garments
    The first thing to know about storing antique fabrics is that you should never hang them. Place them in acid-free archival storage boxes instead, making as few folds in the fabric as possible. Use acid-free tissue paper to soften the folds and prevent creases from forming. If possible, roll the fabric loosely around a storage spool and wrap it in muslin. Old fabrics should be kept in a cool, dry place. Never store heirloom quilts, wedding dresses, or antique garments in the garage, attic, or basement.
  • Artwork
    When you need to put a painting in storage, you must provide it with very specific conditions to avoid damage over time. Wrapping paintings in plastic can create a greenhouse effect that allows mold to destroy the image. Instead, wrap the painting in a storage blanket and then place it inside a sturdy cardboard box. Store the box in a dark, cool room, in a spot that isn’t near a window or air vent.

Seek Professional Repairs Before Storing Damaged Items

Smart storage will help you preserve memorabilia. If damage has already occurred, a reputable restoration service can repair damaged photographs, paintings, textiles, and more. Once your items have been restored to good condition, ask your restoration expert for advice about storing the objects safely.

With locations across the country, Art Restoration Technologies (ART) could be the art repair source you’re looking for. Schedule your appointment with ART online or call us at 800-227-0796 to talk to a restoration professional.

Should you need document recovery or electronics restoration, we can help with that too. Contact our friends at Electronic Restoration Services for expert electronics and document recovery.