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Special Fall Home Design Issue | Conservation

Tips from the experts

September 28, 2003|Barbara Thornburg | Barbara Thornburg is senior home design editor for the magazine.


Keep drapes closed. Objects displayed in sunny locations should be left there only temporarily. Or apply a clear coating to windows to block ultraviolet rays.

Don't place art close to incandescent bulbs, which can generate heat.

Add ultraviolet filters to fluorescent bulbs.


Attach vases and candlesticks to tables, shelves and mantels with microcrystalline wax and/or monofilament.

Bolt free-standing bookcases to the wall to prevent them from tipping over.

Make sure there are door latches on cabinets that are used for glass or china.

Hang art with "tremor hangers" so that they won't "hop" off the wall.


Ensure good ventilation by keeping filters on air-conditioning and heating systems clean.

Use a dry cloth to remove dust from art or use a soft brush and gently sweep dust toward a vacuum cleaner held a few inches away.

Place works on paper and textiles under glass.

Always use acid-free, archival-quality framing materials.


Keep room temperature at about 70 degrees and humidity at between 40% and 45%.

Seal framed art on the back to avoid insect infestation.

Frame old engravings with Plexiglas UF-3 (slightly tinted) or Acrylite OP-2 (clear) frames to protect against ultraviolet rays.

Store old engravings and prints when not on display in airtight, light-free Solander boxes.

For more tips, contact the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works in Washington, D.C., at (202) 452-9545 and


Sew fragile textile fragments onto archival, acid-free mat board to avoid strain on fibers. (This should be done by an expert.)

Keep small artifacts in drawers lined with archival foam and chemically inert unbleached muslin.

Use insect pins to secure small objects in lined drawers to prevent them from bumping into each other.

Mount photographs on 100% rag, acid-free mat board with acid-free tissue on top and bottom to avoid staining photos.

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