How to improve art conservation by utilizing the technology advantage

Ole Martin Kristiansen | May 15, 2018

OK, so this case fascinated me a great deal. I have previously learned a lot on film forming properties, oxygen barrier properties and other related topics to this in the past. But recently I learned that the properties from microfibrillated cellulose and cellulose fibrils is starting to show potential in art preservation or conservation. But how does this take place, and what’s the main functionalities behind all this? I spent some time researching the subject, and today I am sharing my findings with you. Some key words: stability, transparency and mechanical strength. Dig in to learn more!


How are the characteristics from cellulose fibrils and microfibrillated cellulose aligned with the need for functionality in art conservation?

Traditionally, preservation of old books, art etc. has been done with cellulose fibers, sizing agents,  fillers or pigments. By doing this, you can stop some of the destruction process by interrupting the gap increase in the damaged paper. Many art conservators are using brushes or droppers to do this according to TAPPI. It is often the amorphous parts of the paper that is the weakest link, and by inserting physical cellulose fibers you may improve the damaged situation. So how does the cellulose fibrils play a role?

Richard Dreyfuss-Deseigne describes the following three characteristics as important for the functionalities in art conservation

  • Stability
  • Transparency/transmitting of light
  • Strength

The cellulose fibrils are delivered in most instances as a pH neutral material, and with high purity meaning high contents of cellulose. Dreyfuss-Deseigne also state that during tests the films of cellulose fibrils showed good stability to light, temperature and humidity agings. Another aspect, which we also have seen previously from cellulose fibrils films, is the ability to provide transparency. The films are almost transparent, giving little to no effect on the surface of the products its attached to. The last thing Dreyfuss-Deseigne describes is the strength you get from cellulose fibrils. Cellulose fibrils can show very high strength, and according to some, stronger than steel.

By utilizing these characteristics, it is claimed that the art preservation can be improved by filling the amorphous regions with this cellulose fibril and thus improve the quality of the damaged paper as well as increasing the strength of the repaired joints.

Looking to learn more on this subject? Go and visit and read up on TAPPI nanos description of the functionalities. Is your interest even higher? Dreyfuss-Deseigne holds courses for how to utilize the cellulose fibrils for art conservation, could be worthwhile take a closer look?

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Written by:

Ole Martin Kristiansen

Ole Martin is the Marketing Manager of Exilva in Borregaard. He holds a bachelor's degree in Media Management and has been with the company since 2017.