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Saving Your Personal Treasures: Surface Cleaning & Tape Removal


Image of sheet music with affixed tape, discolored.

The Preservation Resources website published its third installment of Saving Your Personal Treasures this spring, in response to an inquiry about tape removal. According to book conservator Katie Wagner of the Smithsonian Libraries, "Tape removal is the bane of our existence! Every tape is different, from the carrier used, to the adhesive applied to the carrier. Each adhesive is removed using a different method and some are permanent. It is difficult for professional conservators to remove tape even with all the solvents, heating tools, and humidification tools at our disposal. It is the one area where I strongly advise taking any issues to a professional conservator."

Nonetheless, some resources are available. For more information on surface cleaning and tape removal for paper, the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC) has a terrific resource in the form of a wiki called the AIC Collaborative Knowledge Base. Although the site provides advanced information meant for the conservation community, much of the information shared is accessible to the layperson. The Connecting to Collections Care online community even produced a documentary about removing different types of tape.

Much more information is available at the Preservation Resources website. Visit the site, take our short survey, and save your personal treasures!