Identification & Preservation of Photos

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Focusing on Photographs: Identification & Preservation

Presented by the Conservation Center for Art & Historic Artifacts

Hosted and co-sponsored by:

Museum of Art Rhode Island School of Design

Major funding for this program was generously provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), with additional funding from The Pew Charitable Trusts and The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation.

Historical records of people and places, fine art photographs, family snapshots, and corresponding negatives are in the collections of every museum, library, and archives. The omnipresence of photographic media belies the complexity and variety of techniques used to create these images. From the earliest cased daguerreotypes and ambrotypes, to tintypes, hand-colored silver gelatin prints, and oversize contemporary color photographs, the variety of photographic processes and supports requires collections managers to have a unique set of knowledge and skills for proper identification, care, and housing. Photographs are also frequently accessed by researchers, duplicated for publication, and placed on exhibition, creating additional preservation challenges.

This two-day program will focus on the fundamentals of identifying and caring for photographic collections. Through lecture and hands-on demonstrations, topics will be intertwined over the course of the program to give participants a holistic view of identifying photographic materials, housing and caring for these collections, developing appropriate handling and display procedures, and establishing safe storage environments.

Topics to be covered include:

  • Photographic processes and structure
  • Identification and care of cased photographs and 19th- and 20th-century prints
  • Handling and labeling photographic materials
  • Housing solutions for photographic collections
  • Preservation considerations for photographic collections
  • Identification of negatives, color prints, and digital prints
  • Environmental guidelines for photographs
  • Cold storage for photographic collections

This program is intended for collections care staff responsible for photographic collections, such as librarians, archivists, curators, collections managers, stewards of historic house museums, and records managers.


  • Gary Albright, Paper and Photograph Conservator, Private Practice
  • Barbara Lemmen, Senior Photograph Conservator, CCAHA
  • Rachel Wetzel, Photograph Conservator, CCAHA