Archive conditions for fine art photography

In classic archives, also called magazines, artwork is kept under absolutely ideal conditions, sometimes even using protective gases. An archive should always be set out for maximum preservation and maximum safety. This includes, for example, fire and burglary protection. Some very valuable collections are kept in facilities such as decommissioned nuclear shelters that have been renovated and turned into archives.

Very valuable photography is archived in total darkness, as any light will disturb the colour elements in the photographs.

The relative humidity for classic archives should be 15% and recorded in ink using a thermo-hydrograph.

Air quality is an important factor when considering room climate. All pollutants, such as acids and gases, lead to the support and colour materials being disturbed. In archives, controlled room conditions regulate this, optimised by air conditioning and air cleaning systems.

7°C is an optimal storage temperature, because cold significantly accelerates the disintegration process. Historical photography is sometimes stored at -26°C, which theoretically means it has an “infinite” shelf life.


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