Pollution Damage Mitigation for Inkjet Printed Materials in Museum Collections (2010-2013)

Pollution Damage to Inkjet PrintsAccording to a 2008 Image Permanence Institute survey, approximately 80 percent of cultural heritage institutions have inkjet prints in their collections and are concerned about the increasing influx of these materials. The survey also showed that noticeable deterioration of these objects has already occurred, including fading, yellowing, color bleed and surface cracking and delamination. In total, 71 percent of institutions have identified deterioration of portions of their digital print collections.

The institute’s previous digital print preservation research, including the DP3 Project: Digital Print Preservation Portal, funded by The Institute of Museum of Library Services and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, established a clear connection between ozone and nitrogen dioxide and the types of deterioration noted above. Identifying and understanding effective methods to mitigate such damage will be critical to the survival of these objects.

Deterioration due to pollutants occurs through chemical reactions. It may be possible to slow these reactions by lowering the storage temperature or by using enclosures to prevent contact between the pollutants and the collection objects. The specific experiments in this project will quantify the overall effectiveness of low temperature in slowing attack by atmospheric ozone and nitrogen dioxide, as well as characterize the degree of protection afforded by various common enclosures (sleeves, boxes, etc.) made of paper or plastic.

The Image Permanence Institute will use its experience, equipment and expertise with temperature, pollutant and enclosure studies to conduct these experiments and distill the results into practical recommendations. The outcome of this project will be a full report describing the results, including improved recommendations to institutions regarding the best practices for managing the preservation of their inkjet printed collection assets.