Recommendations for the conservation of pictures

Conservation of Artworks

Valid for all artworks and items produced from organic materials such as prints, photographs, embroidery and tapestry, documents, wooden statues etc.

Every coin that you invest in conservation of an artwork will save at least ten times the investment in restoration.

The principal enemies of artworks and other artistic items made of organic materials:

  • Relative humidity

Relative humidity and unbalanced temperature are inter-related elements, any change in temperature engenders a change in relative humidity without any addition of water.

The recommended relative humidity for the environment of artworks is between 45%-55%. Higher humidity levels, often prevalent in Israel, cause the weakening of the artwork's foundation, peeling of paint and condensation may appear – meaning the appearance of water on the wall that may seep into the artwork! The ideal temperature for artworks is 18 degrees Celsius. Rapid alterations in temperature and relative humidity are especially injurious to artworks.

Preventive/Defensive treatment: conservation by special framing, controlled positioning, a system for the regulation of humidity and temperature for the home or a special system for the room in which the works are exhibited, intelligent use of air-conditioning and heating.

Light and Lighting

Strong lighting, especially light that includes UV radiation causes color fading, accelerating the 'aging' of artworks and the foundations on which they were performed. Even regular light can cause chemical and structural changes in direct proportion to its strength! The damage that is caused is accumulative and irreversible! Thus good museums are careful to maintain low lighting near to the artworks and especially in the vicinity of rare and precious works.

Preventive/Defensive treatment: blocking sunlight, use of different types of lighting without UV or use of UV filters on the lighting or on the artwork, avoiding placing strong/focused light near to the artwork even if it is not UV light.

Biological enemies such as insects, mold and rodents

In a sub-tropical climate several species of insects and fungi, such as silverfish, book lice, woodworm, cockroaches, mold and fungus are nourished by the cellulous and organic matter that exists in many artworks

Preventive/Defensive treatment: due to sensitivity to ecological preservation, pesticides are now only used for treatment and rarely for prevention. However, this means that regular monitoring is necessary. Proper conservative framing provides protection against insects’ influence on the paper. If necessary, it is recommended to use a pest control company that specializes in the treatment of art collections and not a regular pest controller, who may damage the artworks.

Air Pollution*

Air pollution includes dust, soot, sulfur compounds and different metal elements that exist all the time in the air, and cause chemical reactions which produce alterations in colors, stains in the artwork or in its foundation, fading and weakening of the foundation.

* In urban or industrial areas, air pollution is far more dangerous (not only for artworks but also for us!)

Preventive/Defensive treatment: proper framing, protective coating and correct reinforcement for unglazed artworks, filtering and neutralizing the air for especially valuable works.

Inappropriate framing

This is the most frequent factor for injuries to artworks! 'Ordinary' framing causes direct damage to the artwork (instead of protecting it) due to contact with acidic contents of the artwork, contact or proximity to the glazing, use of invasive glues and use of irreversible materials and techniques, exposure of the artwork to environmental factors (noted in the other sections above).

Preventive treatment: Only conservative framing, appropriate for the specific type of artwork can prevent certain damage that would otherwise occur in the case of inappropriate framing and provide suitable protection for the future. See our page devoted entirely to Conservative Framing.


In general, we recommend the maintenance of digital recording of every artwork and periodic checking of the status of the work, every few months, for damage or negative processes, as explained in our lectures and workshops.

The requisite stages in any restoration process for artworks and objects d'art

  • Diagnosis, visual examination, special lighting
  • Side lighting (U.V., I.R.) microscope and chemical inspections etc.
  • Recording before treatment. Digital photographic recording and detailed recording in writing
  • Work plan: detailing stages of the restoration process
  • 'Tests' for the planned processes. A spot test at each stage and intervention to test the influence of the process in practice
  • Performance of the restoration
  • Summative records

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