In 2015 we began a project to freeze some of our most vulnerable and unstable film-based and colour photographic material, which require cool conditions for long-term preservation. We are now proud to announce that we have a designated Cold Store area which has been upgraded to safely house 4 laboratory freezers.

If you are interested in the procedure we use to safely pack the material for freezing, here’s a little something we prepared earlier (a blog from our pilot project in August 2016, in fact).

It is mainly moving image film and film negatives that are being housed in the freezers. For example, Rosalind Franklin’s x-ray diffraction slides from 1953, which are on a rapidly degrading cellulose acetate base, are now being protected from further decay within a freezer, as are film reels from the archive of Winston Churchill’s daughter, the actress Sarah Churchill. Researchers will still be able to access this material, but they will need to give us five days’ notice to allow for safe, slow warming of frozen items  (a quick blast from a hairdryer will not suffice!).  Moving image films may also need to have an access copy made which can take several weeks to organise.

A tall freezer full of film canisters and boxes, all of which are sealed in individual plastic bags.

Photograph of Freezer 2, now full.

— Sarah Lewery, Conservator.

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