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Picture Framing and Art Preservation/Preserve painted fabric 500+ yrs old


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My family gave us five 24"x36" painted pre-Columbian linens (Nasca, Paracas, Chimu, Tiahuanaco & Chavn societies we have been told) that they have had since childhood.  We believe the pieces are 500 to 1500 yrs old.  We have them laid out flat on clean acid free paper in a dark room in air conditioning kept at 72 degrees (comparable temperature to where they have been for years) while we find out how to properly preserve them.  Ultimately we hope to be able to display them.  What is the best way to do this.  One item appears to have white noduals in a few areas.  Curation might be necessary?  We do have detailed pictures if this will aid in advising.  Thank you for any assistance.  I badly wish to preserve items of  my heritage.

Hi Dory,

These are certainly some family treasures! It sounds like you already have some ideas of what the best display conditions are for something like this: as little light as possible, flat on a chemically stable and at a stable temperature and humidity.

Given the age and possible condition of these I would not be comfortable even thinking about framing them until they had been examined and, if needed, treated, by a professional trained conservator. You can find one in your area by going to and clicking on Find a Conservator on the right hand side of the page. There you will be able to search by geographic area and area of expertise.

When and if they are framed for display I can give you a few general guidelines:

Be sure to use glass or acrylic which will filter out 97% or more of harmful UV light. Even then it will be best to limit their exposure to light as much as possible.

The background material they are mounted on must be chemically stable and pH neutral, such as natural cotton muslin. The mounting method absolutely cannot use any sort of glue, tape or other adhesive on the textiles. If they are stitched it must be done with a number of stitches across and around the textiles to avoid stress.

These are a few good general points but again I would strongly recommend having a conservator examine them first before anything is done.  

Picture Framing and Art Preservation

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David Lantrip, MCPF, GCF


I can answer questions about all aspects of framing, with special emphasis on preservation framing. Categories of artwork include works of art on paper, needlework, textiles, paintings on canvas and three-dimensional objects. Components of framing includes frames, glass/glazing, mats, mounting, their features and how to select them.


I have been a professional picture framer and educator in the field since 1994, including framing education for a major franchisor encompassing three brands and the Professional Picture Framers Association, and writing and teaching for DECOR Magazine.

Professional Picture Framers Association (PPFA) > Board member, PPFA > Member, Certification Board > Member, Chapter relations Committee National Society, Sons of the American Revolution (NSSAR)

DECOR Magazine, 2005 - 2010 PPFA For Members Only newsletter Member of the PPFA Guidelines task force, assisted in writing PPFA Guidelines for Framing Works of Art on Paper and PPFA Guidelines for Framing Works of Art on Canvas, and PPFA Guidelines for Framing Textiles and Needlework. Picture Framing Magazine, 2012

Georgia State University, many classes as a student and educator through the Professional Picture Framers Association and DECOR Magazine. Current member of the PPFA guidelines task force and certification board.

Awards and Honors
Earned Certified Picture Framer (CPF) designation in 1996, Master Certified Picture Framer (MCPF) designation in 2004 and Guild Commended Framer (GCF) status in 2008.

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