Notebook, 1993-


Paper - Works on Paper

Dolloff, Francis W. and Roy L. Perkinson. How to Care for Works of Art on Paper. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Fourth Edition. 1985


NOTE: Visuals included in the original published guide are not provided in this document.

Paper is taken for granted. Why not? It is cheap, available, and expendable. At the same time it is indispensable and yet poorly understood, and it is the need for understanding, with particular reference to works of art on paper, that is the subject of this booklet.

The publication of this guide was prompted by two exhibitions held at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, in the spring of 1971: "The Art and Craft of Papermaking," organized by the Library of Congress, and "Conservation of Works of Art on Paper," organized by the Museum's Conservation Laboratory of the Department of Prints and Drawings. The material is based on our experience in dealing with the countless queries that have come into the Conservation Laboratory from private collectors, galleries, museums, libraries, historical societies, and even artists and framers concerning prints, drawings, watercolors, pastels, books, manuscripts, and documents. A basic explanation of the nature of paper and an enumeration of the fundamentals of preservation, including framing and matting, are brought together in a single convenient source of practical information. Perhaps a few readers will be encouraged to delve still further into the subject by consulting the works listed in the selected bibliography that follows the text.

It is no secret that the problems of displaying, framing, storing, transporting, and preserving works of art on paper are legion. Unless solutions are readily accessible, there is a danger that these graphic records of our historic and artistic heritage will not survive far into the future. It is important that the characteristics of such important records be understood.

Everyone of us, inside or outside museums, and whether or not we are directly concerned with conservation, has a personal interest at stake in the little-understood subject of paper. For example, think for a moment of the pictures on your wall or those stored, unframed, in your attic with its intense summer heat, or, worse still, in your cellar with its warm-season dampness and its cold-season dryness. Think of the books on your shelves in full sunlight or over a heat register, their leather bindings suffering from dryness and lack of nourishment. Finally, look at irreplaceable letters, or other valuable manuscripts, the writing bleached into illegibility by strong light and the paper fragile from much folding and unfolding. Most people will recognize [p. 5] one or more of these conditions in their own home.

This guide will have served its purpose if it enables a wider audience to recognize the make-up and characteristics of paper and to understand the qualities that ensure permanence and the care that is necessary for the longevity of even the best and most durable papers.

We wish to express our gratitude to Mohawk Paper Mills, of Cohoes and Waterford, New York, for their technical advice on modern printing papers and for their financial assistance in the preparation of this booklet and installation of the Conservation Laboratory's exhibition "Conservation of Works of Art on Paper."

For their encouragement, advice, and assistance in the preparation of this booklet we also thank Eleanor Sayre, Curator of the Department of Prints and Drawings, Diggory Venn, Special Assistant to the Director, Margaret Jupe, Assistant Editor, and the staff of the Department of Prints and Drawings.

F. W. D
R. L. P.

Preface to the Second Edition
Revisions for this edition are confined almost exclusively to the section "Materials and Services" and to the bibliography. Recent publications on art conservation have been added to the bibliography, and there is now included a list of institutions that offer courses in art conservation.

R. L. P.

[pp. 5-6]

[Dolloff, Francis W. and Roy L. Perkinson. How to Care for Works of Art on Paper. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Fourth Edition. 1985.]



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