Conservation Corner

on Wednesday, 27 September 2017.

How to look after your old photographs

Where possible it is best to transfer your photographs from damaged or acidic albums to archival paper binders or ready-made archival albums.

An archival album

Things to avoid:
• Gluing or taping photographs into an album as the adhesive can be damaging to the photograph instead use archival quality photo corners

• Self- adhesive albums and poor quality paper albums can cause deterioration of the photographs inside due to acids in the paper and chemicals in the adhesives instead mount photographs on acid free paper in an archival or a ready-made archival photographic album


Examples of poor quality card and adhesive albums

• plastic pockets can be unsuitable for photographs as the plastic degrades releasing damaging chemicals Instead try acid free photo safe paper envelopes or archival polyester pockets (polyester pockets are only suitable for photographs without any surface damage as static created by the polyester can lift loose or damaged areas)

An archival polyester pocket and paper envelope

• Touching the surface of a photograph as oils from our fingers can damage the delicate photographic surface  instead handle by the edges

Sophie Coles, Assistant Conservator, Wiltshire Conservation Museum Advisory Service

Wiltshire Conservation and Museum Advisory Service is based at Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre. We preserve the Wiltshire and Swindon Archives and provide support to help museums, heritage organisations and individuals care for and conserve historic collections and meet professional standards.

Please contact us for further information or come to one of our conservation roadshows to find out how to look after your precious family keepsakes, photographs and treasures. Get advice on the best materials and techniques to care for your items at home and when to seek help from an expert.

If you have items in need of a little TLC see if our conservators can give you hints and tips for cleaning without damage or a quote to get them repaired.

Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre, Chippenham - October 12th, 2-4pm – booking required on 01249 705500
Salisbury Library – November 9th , 2-4pm – drop in
County Hall, Trowbridge - December 14th, 2-4 pm – drop in


Accredited Archive Service