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Display Without Glazing Creates High Risk for Personal Treasures

By Rob Markoff, Industry Expert

You might have heard recently about the woman who lost her balance and fell into a row of artworks on display at a pop-up gallery in Los Angeles, causing $200,000 worth of damage. A few years back there was a very high-profile accident where a young man visiting an art exhibition in Taiwan tripped and put his hand through a 350-year-old work on canvas valued at $1.5 million.



While these higher-profile cases of carelessness and clumsiness by patrons of museums draw media attention a few times a year, there is damage to art, photographs, and other personal treasures people like to display and view happening much more frequently in people’s homes.



As framers, customers ask us to not only come up with a framing package that enhances the display of their art and personal treasures, but they also want us to preserve and protect them. Display, preservation, and protection are inter-related. Protection can impact display, either enhancing it with conservation-quality materials or limiting it with materials that allow discoloration and fading. Without protection, preservation is difficult, if not impossible. A piece that is not preserved through proper protection will only look its best for so long.



Hugh Phibbs, a preservation consultant formerly with the National Gallery in Washington, D.C., has said, framers are the “first line of action” in preservation. Customers count on us for this. After all, if they love something enough to put it on their wall, it’s worthy of the best materials and techniques a framer can provide to protect it.



Unfortunately, some still think that you need to forego protection, and in turn, preservation, to maximize display for certain types of art. Works like needlepoint and paintings are sometimes framed without the glazing that would provide substantial protection simply because people believe nothing should come between the art and the viewer.



Advances in glazing have addressed virtually any objection based on reflection and color transference. Products like Museum Glass® and Optium Museum Acrylic® offer a level of clarity that makes it seem like there is nothing between the art and the viewer. In addition, they offer 99% UV protection. In spite of this, some framers are still reluctant to use glazing on some pieces. When weighing the risks and rewards, they are underestimating the damage that can occur without adequate protection.


  • UV Damage:  Damage from ultraviolet rays is a chemical reaction. Most of us think of UV damage as “just fading,” but there are changes taking place at a cellular level. Products like Museum Glass and Optium Museum Acrylic offer 99% UV protection, as do all Tru Vue® Conservation Glazing products.  Additionally, anti-reflective clarity gives the viewer the impression that there is nothing between them and the art.
  • Airborne Pollution: Dust is the most obvious culprit that exists in any home environment, no matter how tidy. In a recent post, David Lantrip talked about the damage that can occur with needlepoint. Paintings can also suffer from airborne pollution. For example, the way acrylic paint dries creates micro-cavities that can collect dirt. Glazing helps create an environment for these works that protects them and keeps them looking their best for the long term.
  • Accidents:  One of last year’s most-shared incidents of art damage was a result of a selfie attempt gone awry. This feels shocking mostly because of the value of the pieces, but when a personal treasure is damaged, it often feels like a priceless loss. One big difference, though, is that a typical customer does not have a team of conservators to help with repairs or an artist willing to recreate a piece. Protecting treasured pieces increases the odds that work on display in a customer’s home can give many years of enjoyment.



With the right products, customers don’t have to sacrifice display to protect artwork and other personal treasures. While these products add to the overall cost of the framing project, they do help us, the framer and the customer, achieve one of the important missions of custom framing — to preserve and protect. Often, the price difference between protecting the piece and not is minimal. Almost always it is a small price to pay for the risk of leaving a piece unprotected without glazing.

This article is intended for educational purposes only and does not replace independent professional judgment. Statements of fact and opinions expressed are those of the author(s) individually and, unless expressly stated to the contrary, are not the opinion or position of Tru Vue or its employees. Tru Vue does not endorse or approve, and assumes no responsibility for, the content, accuracy or completeness of the information presented.

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