CONSERVATION & RESTORATION
Photo preservation is a recent discipline that involves a variety of materials with their own characteristic properties. Moreover, photography is still in full development, which makes the preservation and management of photographs, both analogue and digital, complex and raises a number of issues. Through its own research, publications, recommendations and workshops, the FOMU’s restoration studio wants to disseminate its expertise and make it available to the public.
One of the restoration studio’s core tasks is extending and guaranteeing the collection’s quality and longevity. Carefully controlling light, air quality, humidity and temperature significantly reduce the number of risks. With the Lieven Gevaert Tower, a modern climate-friendly depot named after the Flemish pioneer of the photographic industry, the FOMU built the first low-energy depot for photography in Europe. In this way, the growing collection can be preserved in a sustainable manner.
The FOMU applies the principle of value-based heritage management in its decision-making process regarding the preservation and safeguarding of the collection. That is why the FOMU has started a valuation process for its collection. Valuing the collection helps to gain a more detailed insight into the history, meaning and (development) potential of the collection. The results of a valuation process are used, for example, to give direction to the collection policy, but also to set priorities in terms of conservation, or to improve the emergency plan. The FOMU is also gaining expertise in the area of collection valuation based on separate projects.
For example, although the Agfa-Gevaert Historical Archives, which were donated to the FOMU in 2015, have a special significance to the FOMU, not all sub-collections ideally located for optimal access in the FOMU. On the basis of valuation, various sub-collections have since been relocated and specific actions are being taken for the other sub-collections.
Thanks to the financial support of the Flemish Community, the FOMU has investigated the problem of rating large collections of slide positives and negatives. In this context, a number of tools were tested for their employability in carrying out valuations, including the contact sheet method to digitise in bulk at low resolution and a condition assessment tool to quickly collect objective information about a collection.