Store Your Treasures
Proper storage for your valued objects will prevent damage and loss. The materials used for storage can either harm or protect important objects. Methods for packing away items can cause serious problems for future use and enjoyment. The furniture on which or in which things are stored can be good or bad as can the location chosen for storage.
All materials used in the display of objects should be acid-free and lignin-free. Wood is neither acid-free nor lignin-free and is not a preferred material for exhibiting valued objects. Painting wood does not stop the emission of acid gasses from wood. These gasses attack nearby objects and cause damage. Often, the paint applied to wood only adds its own volatile gasses to the mix accelerating or exacerbating the damage.
Objects prepared for storage should be completely covered. No part of the object should protrude from the box, file folder, drawer, or cover. Soft items should be padded to avoid sharp folds. Items should be fully supported and not allowed to hang over edges. All items should be raised four to six inches off the floor for cleaning and for protection from leaks and minor floods. Object storage containers should very clearly labeled so one does not have to open and unpack items to find things.
Again, the proper environment in needed in storage: low light levels, limited exposure, moderate temperature, stable relative humidity above 25% and below 55%, and clean air. See: Protect
Many think that cedar chests and closets are the ideal place to store important textiles and heirlooms. These chest and closets were thought to be good because they seemed to help reduce the likelihood of pest infestation in woolen and silk items. The cedar does not kill any pests, its aromatic gases are simply irritating for pests and make them less likely to stay in the vicinity for a prolonged period. Cedar is a wood that emits a great deal of acidic gas. The acidic gasses emitted by cedar, some of which make it smell so good, are very acidic and cause deterioration, dark discoloration along the edges of folded items, and embrittlement of inorganic materials like quilts and linens.
Research into the safety of materials for use in museum storage has led professionals to the use of powder coated steel storage shelving and cabinets. This is the safest materials for shelving and cabinetry and luckily, most metal shelving and cabinetry made today is powder coated steel. All mat board, fabric, supports, padding, boxes, and other materials used for storage should be acid free and lignin free or made from inert plastics.
More Resources (pdf)
Storage and Exhibit Materials Guidelines
Housings for Objects
Conservation Suppliers List
Safe Plastics and Fabrics for Exhibit and Storage
Archives Materials Links