The photographs were part of a poster entitled "1957-1958 Building the New Information Centre." Receiving this poster gave us an opportunity to practice some basic conservation and use our favourite device: the humidification chamber.
This inexpensive tool is remarkably effective for softening documents and photographs that have been rolled or creased so they can be flattened. Essentially, a humidification chamber is a sealed container that holds moisture, while preventing the documents from actually coming in contact with water.
In this case, we wanted to see if humidity would soften the glue that was used to adhere the photos to the poster board.
Step 1: Using a knife, cut the poster into smaller pieces containing the individual photos.
Step 4: Lift the photographs from the backing using a conservator's scalpel. In this case, they peeled right off.
Step 6: Press the moistened documents so they dry flat. Leave overnight.
Step 7: Remove dry material from the press.
Bonus: we discovered extra labelling on the back of the photographs which helped us to further identify, date and describe the items.
Step 8: Rehouse and store the material.
The photos were placed in plastic sleeves, housed in acid-free archival boxes, and stored in climate controlled storage.
We have also had success using the humidification chamber for flattening rolled blueprints. We do this specifically for architectural drawings that are crumpled, torn and brittle, which makes them very difficult to flatten for viewing.
|Architectural Drawings Special Collection, ARCH 008 C|
Fragile and damaged 1926 blueprints of Corpus Christi church, Toronto, are placed in the humidification chamber overnight.
After drying overnight, the flattened drawing is supported with museum board, interleaved with acid-free tissue and stored flat in an oversize archival box.
DIY humidification chambers can be made in a variety of ways. You can use a sink or nesting storage bins. Read more on how to make a humidification chamber.