Introduction to Cold Storage

What is Cold Storage and why do we need it?

The purpose of this program is to provide a basic understanding of cold storage and explain how to implement it for long term preservation of film-based collections. Cold storage provides a stable environment for film-based materials, extends their longevity and preserves them for future use. Research proves that cold storage environments can add hundreds of years of life to film-based materials that are near or at the point where deterioration is occurring. Therefore, it is vital to consider cold storage now before visual history is lost.

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These web pages provide information to help you better understand and identify the needs of your film-based photographic collections; they include an overview of the filmidaration and packaging processes and each section of the website includes links to supplemental documents with more detailed information on relevant topics.

Film Reel
Cold Storage Introduction

The purpose of this program is to provide a basic understanding of cold storage and explain how to implement it for long-term preservation.

Cellulose with RGB scale
Film Based Photographic Materials

A history of photographic films and identifies some basic characteristics of various film types.

Cold Storage film files
Cold Storage Preliminary Preparation

An important part of preparing for cold storage is to complete a survey of all the film-based photographic materials in your collection

Cold Storage artifacts
Cold Storage Packaging

This rapid fluctuation of relative humidity can result in the formation of moisture, which has a negative impact on film-based materials

Upright freezer with cold storage collection bagged properly
Cold Storage in Upright Freezers

After you have calculated the volume of your film-based materials, the next step is to determine how much freezer space you will need

Smithsonian Cold storage cault
Cold Storage in Vaults

When film-based collections are large and require more than 150 cubic feet of space, consider the installation of a cold storage vault

Humidity Indicator
Monitoring and Accessing Collections

You may need to access your film-based collections after they have already been placed in cold storage. Before you remove any packages from

Slides in preservation sleeve
Cold Storage Conclusion

This is a summation of the cold storage process; showing the film types that benefit.

Last updated: December 18, 2019