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Guide to Preservation Matting and Framing

To increase the life and enjoyment of your print or photograph and to save money in the future on conservation treatments, you should invest in appropriate preservation matting and framing. Reviewing the following information and then interviewing the framer regarding the procedures and materials will help you decide.

What is preservation matting and framing?
It is the appropriate housing to display the intrinsic beauty and interest of an object, while prolonging its life by securing the object in a mechanically and chemically stable environment. It minimizes the problems caused by deterioration of the components of the object itself and other problems introduced by environmental factors such as air pollution, heat, light, and humidity.

What should I look for in a frame shop?
There is a growing awareness of preservation issues in the field of matting and framing. Indiscriminate use of terms such as "preservation quality" and "archival quality" can be misleading. However, there are established specifications for materials, and standards for procedures. Make sure the frame shop you select follows them. The field of Preservation is constantly evolving. Be an educated consumer by keeping abreast of new developments in the preservation techniques and materials used in this field.

What materials and techniques should be used for mats?
A mat is made of a series of components, as shown in this diagram. The mat must be constructed to fit the object. Objects should not be folded or cut to fit a mat/frame package. [Click here or on the image for an enlargement]

diagram of matting and frame
The most basic guidelines are the following:

What materials should be used for glazing?

What materials should be used for frames?

What are safe places to hang or store my framed object?

The preservation procedures described here have been used by the Library of Congress in the care of its collections and are considered suitable by the Library as described; however, the Library will not be responsible for damage to your collection should damage result from the use of these procedures.

Revised 12/98

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