Movie Poster Preservation - How to Care for Your Movie Poster
What is Movie Poster Preservation?
It is important to note that posters are made for advertising and therefore printed on very cheap, acidic paper.
After a while these acids will devour your poster.
So preservation methods include pH testing,
chemical stabilization and deacidification. The next most important consideration is the
protective covering of your poster. It is important to repair and clean your poster before
using any preservation processes.
Before we address movie poster preservation, it is important to know the culprits that can destroy your poster.
- Light. Light fades the colors of your poster. Hanging it near a window or putting a spot light on
will cause damage.
- Acidity. Using acid base paper eats away at the paper of your poster.
- Water Damage. Spilling liquid on your poster will leave or water mark. Or if your poster gets affected by
a natural disaster like a hurricane.
- Humidity. Humidity can cause mold or fungus to use your poster as a host.
- Creatures. Insects or animal such as rodents can eat through you paper.
The acids that are embedded in the paper cause the paper to break down and become brittle. After a while the paper
starts to crumble.
Deacidification stops the corroding.
After testing your poster for its acidity, a
deacidificaton solution can be sprayed or brushed on.
These solutions also add an alkaline base to the paper.
How do you Protect Your Poster?
The next step in movie poster preservation is to protect your poster for storage
and / or display. We will briefly address the pros and cons of each.
So far there isn't a perfect solution.
There are two steps to encapsulation:
Step 1: chemical stabilization and deacidification
Step 2: sealed in acid-free polyester (Mylar) enclosure
The poster is not glued or attached in any way to the Mylar, therefore it can safely be removed. This system allows
the paper to be kept dry, free of contaminants and be framed. The only drawback is storage.
The Library of Congress developed this process preservation
for valuable sheet documents.
I learned to do this when I was in college as an inexpensive way to protect and display my posters. Make sure that your
working area is free of dust and dirt.
- Find a framing supply house that has acid free, white backing boards.
- Find a store that does shrink-wrapping. Tell them you want to double shrink-wrap. If you have more than one poster,
look for a place that will sell you a roll.
- Trim your backboard so that it is 1/2" to 1" larger than your poster.
- Center the poster board so that the borders are even around the poster.
- Take small pieces of acid free tape and about every 5" to 6" attach the poster to the backboard.
Be sure and smooth the paper as you tape.
- Place your board on a table with the one side of the board hanging over the table. This will allow you to
tape the shrink-wrap to the back of the board.
- Place your shrink wrap over the poster, making sure that it is free of dust and particles.
Start at the top of the backboard and secure the shrink-wrap to the back of the
backboard with small pieces of acid free tape.
Move from left to right until you finished only the top of the backboard. Then secure the shrink-wrap to the bottom of the
backboard, gently pulling the shrink-wrap so that it is slightly tight and free of wrinkles and creases.
- Do the same with the right and left sides of the backboard.
- Then fold the corners to the backboard, doing one corner and then the opposite corner,
securing each with the acid free tape.
- To make the encasement air tight, take a piece of acid free tape (about 2 -3" wide), with a continuous strip, tape
down the shrink-wrap to the backboard.
- Now for the delicate part. Start on the backside of the backboard until you get the hang of it.
Stand about 12" from the poster board and with your hair dryer,
shrink the wrap. As soon as it get taunt move onto the next section. If a hole occurs, cover it with the acid free tape.
Once you do not create any holes, you can now turn your poster over and blow-dry the font of the poster. If a hole occurs,
you will have to begin all over again!
- To hang your poster purchase mirror corners.
The most popularly used amongst movie poster collectors for presentation, but perhaps not preservation
is linen backing. Linen material is used
for very rare and expensive posters. Because it is much less expensive, most commonly used is a 100% cotton duct.
The poster is glued to acid free paper as an interface (usually acid free Japanese rice paper),
and a cotton canvas with wheat past glue.
Use a movie poster restoration / conservation expert to linen back your poster.
Some people want to keep the cost down and
have the poster mounted directly to the canvas backing. Due to humidity and temperature changes,
over a period of time, the paper and material will
expand and contract at different times. The friction between the two materials will cause lines in the paper and the poster
will eventually disintegrate. The acid free paper between the poster and the cloth acts as a neutralizer.
This is not a perfect process.
Most paper conservators believe that linen backing may cause danger in the long run (over a couple of decades).
Because linen and the paper are different materials with different responses to air, chemistry,
humidity and temperature, they may cause the poster and backing to separate. This would
damage the poster.
Although linen back manufacturer say that the poster can safely be removed from the poster, no one really knows
if this is true because linen-backing has only been used for the last couple of years.
On the other hand, linen mounting provides
an excellent base for paper replacement,
movie poster restoration
and the minimization of tears and folds.
To learn more or to get referrals to experts, contact
The American Institute of Conservation.
To laminate you enclose the whole poster in a sleeve and the whole poster gets sealed with a heat press. This process is
irreversible. Although lamination looks good, it does destroy the value of your poster.
When a movie poster is dry mounted it is glued to a foam core board or stiff cardboard using heat and pressure.
When you take your poster to be
framed, this is usually automatically included in the job. Your poster will look good and it will remove the creases
and wrinkles, but if you want to
preserve the value of your poster, don't use this process. Auction houses consider dry mounting as
What is the most effective way to protect your investment with
poster conservation framing?