The Long Life for Photographs is a project focusing on photographic archives. An international group of photograph conservators, archivists, curators and artists work together with Polish and Norwegian collections in order to study and elaborate new methods of preserving and presenting them.
The project was initiated by the Archaeology of Photography Foundation, which has conducted 8 years of research on photographic archives and exploring new ways in which to present and conserve them. ‘The Long Life for Photographs’ is a continuation of earlier activities, a complex and multi-dimensional project involving the topic of preventive conservation of photography.
Other elements of the project will take participants through the process of discovering a photographic archive. How can we establish the historical and artistic value of a collection of family photos? How do we save the stories reflected in the photos? What is a threat to the delicate matter of a photo, a negative or a print? Which photos are worthy of display and how to do it? These questions are equally relevant to museum collections, home collections, historical photos made with analogue techniques or current day prints.
The programme includes films, an exhibition, a training session, artists in residence and a series of seminaries for experts. Each event focuses on a different aspect of work with an archive and is targeted towards a different audience. The project is conducted from October 2015 till April 2016 in Poland and Norway.
The following Polish and Norwegian institutions are involved in the project:
- Archaeology of Photography Foundation, Warsaw, Poland
- Telemark Museum, Skien, Norway
- Sogn og Fjordane County Archives, Leikanger, Norway
- NTNU – The Norwegian University of Science and Technology; The Norwegian Colour and Visual Computing Laboratory, Gjøvik, Norway
- Oppland County Archive, Lillehammer, Norway
What is preventive conservation?
Photography, like every material object, is subject to the passage of time. Whether it is an accurately executed, original copy of a famous photographer, an amateur photograph documenting a trip to a rarely visited museum wing, a negative kept in an institutional archive or a family album – all photographs age.
Preventive conservation makes it possible to slow down this natural process without having to resort to invasive methods. Preventive conservation consists of several simple and relatively inexpensive methods which allow to protect photographs against destruction, deformation and loss of quality. One of the key elements is re-packing photographs into secure materials and choosing the right type of storage. It also includes the professional scanning technique which ensures that the image does not deteriorate in quality and can be presented to a wider audience.
Incorrect storage of photographs might have irreversible consequences. Even very basic actions can help to protect photographic materials. Most of those methods are simple and easily available and will allow you to effectively protect your home photo collections.