I am going through the process of doing conservation reports on framed prints and artwork that have been displayed in our historic homes for many years. When I am examined the prints and works of art on paper, I decided to remove the awful brown paper backing (the glue residue is horrible). I then took the paper works of art out of their frames. Many of the frames were married to the art (different accession numbers) so I separated them and stored the prints in drawers as their condition was suffering due to being framed and exposed. Some frames were original to the artwork but not many. I checked the original accession file for description and photographs. I suspect they were made in house. The only way to properly examine them was to remove them from the frames. My question is it the right call to separate works of art and prints from frames original or not? They seem to be suffering from being framed. Or should they be placed back in original frames (the ones we received framed) to keep the collection together? I can assign A and B numbers to store them separately.
In general, separating the prints from the frames is fine, so long as you document everything and assign numbers in a way that allows you to keep them associated in your records. Your decision has improved the storage condition of the collection.
Keeping works of art on paper framed is also acceptable, as long as the storage minimizes light and the frames aren’t damaging the works – but yours were.
Here’s a helpful leaflet on matting and framing for works of art on paper: https://www.nedcc.org/free-resources/preservation-leaflets/4.-storage-and-handling/4.10-matting-and-framing-for-art-and-artifacts-on-paper
I hope this helps, please feel free to post any follow-up questions.
Thanks Louise for your reply! I also wanted to separate them as I wasn’t sure what mat and backing they used in the 1970’s. I some cases they used plastic and some kind of wood. One print was 18th century and one was 200 years old so were very brittle. The 200 year old was very foxed but the water colours were as bright as the day they were created!
I have to rephotograph them and separate the frames and prints into A and B in the records and assign FIC numbers if I have no idea where it came from. if they came to us as a set. Thanks for the link, three or four years back I took a CCI course on conserving works of art on paper which was very interesting. Evelyn
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