Caring for paper and paintings 

How can I care for paper objects?

Three huia (Heteralocha acutirostris) circa 1900, Keulemans, J. G. (1842–1912), London. Purchased 1993 with New Zealand Lottery Grants Board funds. Te Papa
Three huia (Heteralocha acutirostris) circa 1900, Keulemans, J. G. (1842–1912), London. Purchased 1993 with New Zealand Lottery Grants Board funds. Te Papa

Paper documents, books, and artworks should be stored in a cool, dry, and dark space where a regular temperature can be maintained. Be mindful that your display and storage areas may be exposed to air conditioning and heating that is used during the day and shut off at night. This means your objects may be exposed to significant shifts in daily temperature, which can cause damage over time.

Too much light can cause paper to yellow and fade, so protect it as best you can. For particularly fragile pieces, you may want to consider using copies rather than the originals for display purposes. Be sure to keep your area well cleaned to protect objects from dust, pests, and insects.

Store your paper objects flat rather than rolled or folded, and handle them with clean hands or cotton gloves. If you want to label your items, be sure to use 2B pencil rather than ink, which can seep into the paper.

Learn more about how to care for paper objects:

American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (PDF, 229kB)

Books

How can I care for paintings?

Paintings need to be well protected from light which can cause some elements of a painting to deteriorate. Certain pigments are vulnerable to fading from light exposure. Natural, halogen or fluorescent bulbs emits ultraviolet light which can fade pigments; usually incandescent bulbs are considered safe to use.

Paintings should be kept in a stable environment where the temperature and humidity can be regulated.Too many fluctuations in temperature can cause the canvas to expand and contract and ultimately damage the surface of the painting. Paintings should be kept away from fireplaces, air conditioners and heaters.

Dirt and dust in the air can stick to the painting’s surface and change the appearance over time so keep the area clean and well ventilated. Cleaning a painting can be very risky so for particularly delicate or valuable works it is best to consult with a professional conservator.

Always be very careful when handling and moving paintings, especially when mounting or dismounting them from a display. For large pieces, always use at least two people to handle the item, and plan where you are moving it to in advance.

Store paintings securely in their frame and keep them well padded and packaged. A painting should never be left exposed during storage. Store upright in a secure position so the painting won’t fall over, and make sure there are no sharp objects nearby that could fall and pierce the painting.

Read more about how to care for paintings:

American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (PDF, 201kB)

How can I care for archival collections?

Managing and Preserving for Community Archives

For a copy, please contact:

National Preservation Office Te Tari Tohu Taonga
National Library of New Zealand
PO Box 1467
Wellington
Email: preservation@natlib.govt.nz
Phone: 04 474 3058
Fax: 04 474 3035

For advice, contact:

Archives New Zealand Te Rua Mahara o te Kāwanatanga

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