Framing Your Art

To reduce damage caused by light sources framing stores offer glass called conservation glass or museum glass. Years ago we didn’t understand how sunlight or the lighting in your office or home could result in fading and deterioration of artwork. Both conservation and museum glass are used like a sunscreen blocking 99 percent of all ultraviolet rays. The difference between the two types of glass is the clarity. Museum glass is not reflective. When you look at the artwork the glass is nearly invisible. When a decorative border is placed around a piece of artwork it is not always used just for decoration. The mat board separates the art from the glass. If moisture develops on the inside of the glass, the separation helps to protect the photograph or artwork. Some artwork can be smudged by touching another surface.

When a decorative border is placed around a piece of artwork it is not always used just for decoration. The mat board separates the art from the glass. If moisture develops on the inside of the glass, the separation helps to protect the photograph or artwork. Some artwork can be smudged by touching another surface.


There are two prominent types of matting available: acidic and acid-free.  Acidic mats (wood based paper) is what you will find in the majority of all artwork that was framed more than ten years ago. Acid-free (neutral pH) paper has only become available in recent years. The difference is important.  Acidic mats cause the artwork to discolor over time. If the artwork is to be preserved, you need to ask the picture-framer about the acid content of the mats you purchase. The highest quality is museum board.  It is constructed out of 100 percent cotton fiber.  It will protect and preserve the contents of a frame.  It is the most expensive material available and the difference in cost between this and other options is minimal. The next level is museum mat or rag mat. It is made out of cotton fibers and wood pulp middle.  It is less expensive, but still a good quality choice for conservation for most works. Following this is conservation or archival mat board.  It is produced from 100 percent wood pulp and treated to be inert for up to 300 years. It is the highest quality paper mat board available. Lastly, is acid-free or acid-free lined mat board. It is usually lined with a wood based liner that has been treated to prevent acid burn. It is important to know that eventually, the acid in the core will leach out.


All my art is framed using conservation glass or museum glass. I always ask for 100 percent cotton mats. Protecting your art can be as important as the art you select.