Acetate Negative Recovery Lecture at George Eastman House

For the second year running Chicago Albumen Works’ Emily Phoenix was asked to deliver a slide presentation on Acetate Negative Recovery (aka: “stripping”) to the students of the Ryerson University Photographic Preservation and Collections Management program and staff at George Eastman House.

Emily’s lecture outlined various approaches on caring for a collection of cellulose negatives, highlighting the differences between those with a nitrate and acetate base. While there is little that can be done for badly deteriorated nitrate negatives, the images from acetate sheet films suffering from “vinegar syndrome” and other symptoms of acetate base deterioration can potentially be recovered by negative stripping.

The students & staff participated in a thoughtful Q&A session following the presentation; and were enthusiastic to handle wet and dry samples of the gelatin layer removed from its base. A PPCM alumna herself, Emily was pleased to chat with the students, and looks forward to returning to Rochester and sharing her knowledge with next years students.

Emily’s presentation allowed the audience to understand the materials and layer structure acetate negatives, and the deterioration stages of these objects. She emphasized that if collections of negatives with advanced deterioration are encountered there are ways to recover the images – often the most vital aspect for historical societies and libraries.         -Jamie Allen, Assistant Curator of Photographs, George Eastman House.

Thanks again to the staff of George Eastman House for their interest and participation.


About albumenworks

Founded in Chicago in 1976 by Doug Munson and Joel Snyder, CAW moved to the Berkshire Hills of western Massachusetts in 1982. The Chicago Albumen Works puts decades of experience to work for some of the finest collections from around the world. A combination of technical expertise and historical perspective, operating in a controlled, conservation environment, directs our solutions to the diverse challenges presented by photograph collections. At CAW, the synergy of technical understanding, a conservator’s approach, an artist’s eye and a historian’s perspective creates a unique, productive, and collegial environment.
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