What is Archival Framing?

Archival framing is the art of fully protective, long term framing. A lot of elements go into this, all coming together to ensure that your artwork is protected for the long haul. 

The terms of Archival framing are set out as part of the five framing standards dictated by the Fine Art Trade Guild, of which we have been a member for many years. Archival Framing and Museum Grade Framing are the two top tiers, both set out with the intention of fully protecting special and valuable pieces. 

So what is actually involved in framing a piece archivally?

1. Archival Tape

The first is the use of archival tape, which is designed to not leech acid into your artwork over time, as well as stay strong for longer. You know how normal cellotape fails really quickly, and even faster if exposed to light? And how it also stains paper from the adhesive? Archival tape doesn’t do either of these things. 

2. Archival Boards

The second is the use of archival boards. In the same way that archival tape doesn’t leech acid over time, archival boards are designed to do the same thing. Don’t be tricked though! Acid-free and archival are NOT the same thing. Acid-free just means that the paper stock is neutral at the time it is manufactured. In order to rest assured that it will not go acidic over time, you need archival paper stocks, or even better rag boards which are cotton based and even more protective long term. As a standard, we use Archival boards for everything. 

3. An Air Gap Between the Glass and Artwork

The third is an air gap. This is surprisingly important for long term protection. Having artwork back from the glass means that in humid conditions, any moisture that ends up absorbed into the boards or artwork has somewhere to move where it leaves, whereas with artwork touching the glass, you run the risk of them getting stuck together since there is nowhere for the water to go. This is with glossy things, photographs especially, but is a major factor in archival framing for long term protection. 

4. UV Filtering Glass

The fourth is a UV filtering glass. UV glass won't halt fading in its tracks completely, especially in New Zealand where our ozone is weak and the sun is particularly harsh, but UV glass will slow the process down significantly and ensure long term protection for your artwork. 

So when do I need Archival Framing?

During our consultation, we will walk you through all the steps to consider when it comes to how we frame your piece, and how protective we need to go based on necessity and budget. 

Easily replaceable photographs, open edition prints, or anything you won't be upset about if something happens can easily be put into a non-archival environment, but anything that holds value, be it monetary or sentimental, should be protected to the best grade possible within your budget. 

Our job is to help you navigate all of this, and make everything work for you and your artwork. Our standard base quality of framing is to achieve an archival framing job, but every person and artwork is different, and we will custom create an enclosure to suit your needs.