A short video, a new app and some good advice
Emergency Response and Salvage of Artwork, Collectibles, Heirlooms, Antiques Mobile App, is a handy mobile tool (which doesn’t work on a MAC) created by the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training. Although designed for collectibles and museum professionals, the free app offers useful information for anyone dealing with water damaged artwork, memorabilia and heirlooms.
To help keep precious family history items safe from the storm, here are some tips from professional art conservation experts:
- The Most Important Things First
- People and pets are most important. Helping others is good for your soul.
- Protect your property/home, equipment etc
- First thing – Get Organized
- Make sure the gas and electricity are turned off and that the area is cleared for re-entry before you begin to assess damage.
- A little extra planning at the beginning will go a long way—especially for insurance purposes. Document the situation as you go: Take pictures and keep notes for reference.
- Cool and dry spaces are the best spots to examine objects. If you can, keep air circulating with fans.
- A mixture of seven parts alcohol and one part water is effective for mold prevention, Steve Pine, a conservator at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, told the Houston Chronicle. But be mindful: Flood water can contain hazardous materials, so wear safety masks and gloves before handling anything that has been submerged.
- Take Extra Care with Framed Paintings and Works on Paper
- Be careful with old frames. If they are wet, they will fall apart in your hands. It will cost $1,000’s to repair or replace.
- Handling artwork on canvas can be very tricky especially is flaking paint is visible. BE CAREFUL. In the blink of an eye you can ruin the value, increase the repair costs by $1,000 or turn it to trash. See the video below!
- Immediately take the work out of the frame, but do not separate paintings from their stretchers.
- Keep wet paintings horizontal, with the paint-side up, preferably elevated. Keep them out of heat or sunlight.
- If the work is stuck to the glass of the frame, do not try to peel it apart. Leave it in the frame to dry with the glass side down.
- Soggy Photos? Do Not Despair
- Wet photographs that are stuck together should be immersed in clean water and swished around until they come apart. Then, lay them out to dry.
- If the photographs are damp or partially wet, experts have a secret weapon to salvage them: the freezer. Interleave the photos with wax paper, place them in resealable bags, and freeze them until you can spread them out to thaw and dry. Textiles can also be frozen after being briefly submerged in clean water.
- The air-dry technique is another tried-and-true method favored by museum conservators. Place an absorbent material (such as un-inked newsprint, paper towels, or blotters) underneath wet objects. Then, lay them out in a cool, dry space stocked with fans. Do not hang wet items, as they will be unlikely to remain intact.
- Freeze Your Wet Books, Too
- If you have more than one book stuck together, rinse off any grime while the books remain closed. Then, pack them spine down in a resealable bag or sturdy container and put them in the freezer.
- Individual books can be air-dried, standing upright.
Scott M. Haskins, Oriana Montemurro, Virginia Panizzon Art Conservators
805 564 3438