Protecting Paper at the Palmer
Of all of the objects in the Palmer Museum of Art’s collection, perhaps the most fragile are its works on paper. Prints, drawings, watercolors, and photographs are all highly susceptible to harm from light, humidity, bugs, stuff in the air—and people. The damage can occur at any time, from frequent or careless handling by the artist while the work is still in the studio, to precipitant mounting by a dealer or framer, unprotected exposure during an exhibition, or improper storage and display by a collector. Often times, the first serious commitment to the care of a work, particularly in the case of historical pieces, occurs only when it is acquired by a museum.At the Palmer Museum, the safety of its works on paper is secured by limiting the amount of time they are placed on exhibition, and then, when they are not on view, storing them in a dark environment with optimal levels of temperature and humidity. Should a print or drawing arrive, usually by way of gift or transfer from another department, in an impaired state, it will eventually be sent to a paper conservator for treatment. All of the works on display in Protecting Paper at the Palmer have either recently arrived back from conservation, or will be sent to the conservator to mitigate the damage in question soon after the closing of the exhibition.