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Subject: Faded photograph prints

Faded photograph prints

From: Neill McManus <neillm<-a>
Date: Sunday, February 13, 2005
Mark D. Hanson <curator [at] aeromuseum__org> writes

>I have inherited a puzzling problem. We have a hallway along one
>wall of which a photo timeline runs. The hallway is lighted by
>fluorescent tube lights in enclosed fixtures. It is an interior
>hallway with no windows. The photos are color scans of primarily
>black and white originals printed in color on glossy photo paper
>from an ink jet printer. The prints are then dry mounted onto foam
>The photos appear to "randomly" fade at an alarming rate. We have
>tried using different papers and different printers, but to no
>avail, we have tried to isolate a correlation to lighting hotspots,
>but none exist. Photos fade just as quickly in darker areas of the
>hallway as in brighter ones. We have tried control groups of
>multiple picture using the same print settings, printer, ink
>cartridges, box of paper, and dry mounting materials and technique.
>Nothing seems to work. ...

This is a really complex area which is constantly changing, and I'm
no expert. Initially I would go and check the internet sites of the
Image Permanence Institute
(<URL:>) and The Wilhelm
Imaging Research <URL:> Center they
area the most up to date with the technology, there you can check
your printer and its inks. Be cautious of manufacturers guarantees
of permanence I also use an Epson printer with archival inks for
facsimiles but I still have problems with fading within a year under
normal unprotected conditions. The one major factor you have not
considered in the fading is the action of ozone, ink-jet prints that
are encapsulated, faced or framed behind glass have a significantly
longer life time, or you may have some problems from off-gassing
from the foam board and dry-mount adhesive. The dyes used by some
manufacturers are very sensitive to these factors, which is why it
is best to go with a pigment and dye based ink-jet printer matched
with its specific paper.

I would recommend you try to use a printer with archival pigmented
inks and either encapsulate or mount in a well sealed frame. A good
mounting method that is becoming more favored in museums and
galleries for displaying photographs is to adhere the face of the
print directly against Perspex (this should be done by a firm who
has experience with the technique). All these options not only
provide protection against ozone but also provide UV and physical
protection for the print. With these methods and the research of the
above institutions there is a good chance that your prints will last
many years. Best of luck,

Neill McManus
Conservation Department
Jewish National and University Library
Hebrew University

                  Conservation DistList Instance 18:39
                 Distributed: Friday, February 18, 2005
                       Message Id: cdl-18-39-017
Received on Sunday, 13 February, 2005

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