How to Display Art: Picture Framing Glass

First and foremost, picture glass protects works on paper from dust and other pollutants, but it can also serve other important functions. Ultraviolet or UV protected glass or glazing can increase the life-span of your art:

  • Regular glass is the type most commonly used. It’s scratch-resistant but breaks easily in transport and only filters out about half of the damaging ultraviolet (UV) light rays.
  • Nonglare glass works well on pieces placed directly in front of a window. The drawback is that this glass tends to soften the image and give a slightly fuzzy appearance to the work. It also gives low UV protection.
  • Conservation glazing is a coating applied to glass that offers 97 percent UV protection.
  • Museum Glass is the ultimate framing glass—so clear and glare-free that you can’t see it at all when you stand in front of a painting. It also provides the most UV protected glass. This glass is expensive, but worth the price.
  • Acrylic glazing, also known by the trade name Plexiglas, is much lighter than glass, which makes it a good alternative for large works of art. It’s virtually shatter proof, although it scratches easily. Available in regular and nonglare forms, acrylic provides about 60 percent UV protection. Regular glass cleaners may leave the surface looking foggy.
  • Acrylic museum-grade glazing is much clearer and more resistant to static cling than regular acrylic glazing.

(This article by Rosemary Seidner first appeared in a past issue of The Artist’s Magazine.)

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