Conservator’s Corner: A Sticky Situation!

June 19, 2017 6:49 pm Published by

Welcome to Conservator’s Corner, our blog series where HMCC’s own Museum Specialist Jennifer Richmond shares her professional tips for preserving your artifacts, photographs, and documents. Jennifer has a Master’s degree in Conservation from Studio Art Centers International.

These adhesive photograph albums in the Ueck collection are dangerous to the historic photos they hold.

This week, while working in the Ueck collection, Jennifer found a major preservation concern in Louis Ueck’s WWI photograph album.  Ueck’s valuable wartime photos had been stored in a type of photo album that was popular in the 1980s and 1990s.  These albums use adhesive pages to hold the photos in place and a clear plastic overlay to protect the images.

“At the time, these photo albums seemed really convenient and helpful,” Jennifer said.  “But over time they cross link.  In other words, the adhesive hardens and forms a bond with the back of the photograph that is not removable.”  If you try to remove the photos, they can easily curl or tear.

If you have any of these photo albums at home, don’t wait to take action.  As Jennifer said, “You need be proactive! The sooner you can remove them, the better.  Start by taking digital photos of each album page. Better yet – scan each sheet so that you have preserved your images digitally, even if the physical copies are compromised.”

Next, Jennifer recommends assessing each photograph slowly and gently. “Attempt to carefully remove one photo. If it pulls off easily, try to carefully remove the rest of the photos.”

If it doesn’t peel off easily, do not try to remove the photograph.  Contact a professional – a conservator or a specialist in photographic preservation – to remove the photographs.

Do you have a topic you’d like to see covered in Conservator’s Corner? Call (269) 983-1191 or e-mail and you might see your question in Jennifer’s next blog post!