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How to Store Large Pictures in Frames

Keep important memories forever with the proper storage techniques.
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Things You'll Need:

  • Cotton gloves
  • Metal picture frame
  • Clean sheet
  • Canvas cover
  • Cardboard frame box
  • Fireproof box


Do not use plastic to cover stored frames. Plastic traps moisture and leads to mold growth.

If you plan to display your pictures during storage, choose a frame with UV-filtered glass and hang the photo out of direct sunlight.

Your picture must be clean and in optimal condition before storage. Small problems only get worse over time. Have a professional remove fingerprints, scratches or any other flaws (if possible) before the picture is stored.

The National Archives recommends storing framed pictures in areas with humidity between 35 and 50 percent. If you are unsure of the humidity levels in the room, install a hygrometer. Place a dehumidifier in the room if the humidity levels are higher than ideal.

If you have multiple large framed pictures to store, consider investing in a canvas rack.

Basements are often the right temperature to store pictures, but can be too damp. If you must store your picture in the basement, lift the paintings off the floor and above any flood lines.

For heirloom pictures, consider extra protection, such as a fireproof box or safe.

The way to properly store a large picture in a frame is tougher than you think. Any picture frame will protect a picture from environmental irritants like dust, fingerprints and debris. But to delay the ravages of time, you must take greater care with your photographs. When stored over long periods, sunlight, moisture and acid can penetrate the frame to destroy or erode your picture. To prevent common storage problems from occurring, invest the time and money it takes to store your pictures correctly.

Put on a pair of lint-free cotton gloves. Touching the photographs with your bare hands will leave behind oil prints that will stain the picture over time.

Place the picture in an aluminum or other metal frame. Unlike wooden frames, metal frames do not produce the acids that yellow pictures over time. When choosing a metal frame, the United States National Archives recommends one that has archive-quality, low-acid, lignen-free ragboard or matboard backing. This backing will not yellow the pictures over time or cause them to stick to the glass frame.

Drape a clean sheet, canvas cover, cardboard frame box or fireproof box (for valuable photos) over the frame.

Place or stack the framed pictures vertically in a dark room. For the most ideal storage conditions, the National Archives recommends an above-ground closet. Closets have the consistent temperatures (between 65 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit), and low humidity (between 35 and 50 percent) that framed pictures need for long-term storage.

Check the frames once or twice a year. Moisture leakage, insect infestation or other problems may destroy even expertly stored pictures. Minimize any damage by catching the problem early. While examining your pictures, put on your white gloves and leave the frames open for a few minutes. This helps to dissipate any gas that has built up.

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