Caring for your personal collections

A qualified conservator can provide sound, ethical preservation services for your art objects, artifacts, and other items of historic and cultural value. Conservators can diagnose problems, suggest appropriate treatments, and advise on appropriate conditions for storage and exhibition. The American Institute for Conservation (AIC) hosts the “Find an Expert” tool that allows you to search for peer-reviewed conservators in your area. Personal collections may have historic, financial, or sentimental value. Given the variety of material formats that may be in your personal collections (photographs, newspapers, letters, textiles,  video, and born-digital materials), you should seek information that addresses a format’s specific needs.

The following resources provide up-to-date information on many material formats:

Find a Conservator (AIC – American Institute for Conservation)

Frequently Asked Questions About Preservation (Library of Congress)

Caring for Your Treasures (AIC)

Caring for Your Family Archives (NARA – National Archives and Records Administration)

Where To Buy Preservation Supplies

Preserving Your Digital Materials

Preserving audiovisual materials:  FACETS format guide from Indiana University – Bloomington is a very detailed overview of audiovisual formats and their associated preservation risks.  

Other resources:

Canadian Conservation Institute (CCI) Notes CCI Notes cover the care, handling, and storage of a wide range of cultural objects and are written for a broad audience.

Conserveograms The National Park Service has posted leaflets on the care and preservation of a wide variety of types of materials (stone, metal, archeological, photographs, etc.)  Although they are geared towards institutional collections, individuals will find a treasure trove of useful information.

Connecting to Collections Care Network- aimed at small institutions, historic houses, gardens, etc. that do not have conservation or preservation departments. Join their community to ask questions and review previous queries answered by moderators who are conservation and preservation professionals. 

Check out the UVA Library Preservation YouTube site for informational videos. 

Have a preservation-related question?

If you can’t find an answer using the information above, submit your question and we'll do our best to assist.