Document restoration is an art. The historical objects we often hold most precious – documents, manuscripts and paper works of art, for instance – are by their very nature susceptible to damage. For example, consider that in 1998, conservators replaced the 1950s casement previously surrounding the U.S. Constitution.
Upon opening the casement, conservators discovered insect damage, flaking ink and pockmarks created by humidity. Only world-leading document conservation experts could be trusted to craft a new casement, restore the flaking ink and properly handle the Constitution throughout the restoration process. It took an artist’s attention to detail and a creative restoration approach to restore and properly display this founding document.
At the same time, upper-level science is also required in disaster recovery. Documents made of paper require an entirely different set of chemical rules than do those made of animal skin, such as parchment and vellum. Each backing material, each component of a photograph and each type of ink has its own scientific properties to consider when providing document restoration services. And these ingredients almost never exist in isolation; how they combine with other constituents must also be taken into account.
Here are a few ways watercolors, manuscripts and other important documents can be damaged by the elements:
- Humidity may cause documents to curl, or become “cockled.” (Cockles are the hills and valleys that moisture causes to appear in damaged documents.)
- Light exposure may cause fading or darkening, depending on the length of the light wave. In general, light has a weakening effect on documents.
- Pollution, soot, dust and gases can be absorbed into paper and cause degradation.
- Water damage can cause mold and mildew growth, a serious document restoration challenge that typically requires professional attention.
Document restoration specialists understand just how fragile these items can be. They also appreciate the complexity of disaster recovery. Documents are handled by their edges; only chemically stable tapes are used; and light exposure is limited.
Here at Polygon, we specialize in document restoration across industries. Hospitals, schools and museums rely on us for disaster recovery. Documents stored in museums are often the most precious documents of a society – they are the social contracts, the artistic expressions and the guiding philosophical treaties of our forefathers and -mothers. We can aid museums both before disaster strikes by creating a thorough disaster plan, and after the unthinkable has come to pass by providing world-class document restoration services.
[ Photo by: room122, via CC License ]