Museum Water Emergency Resources


Further Studies Toward Assessing the Risk of Damage to Digital Prints During Flood Events

This article is intended to describe significant improvements to the existing ISO standardized test method for evaluating the flood resistance of digital prints. The current method, 18935– 2005 Imaging materials: Colour images on paper prints: Determination of indoor water resistance of printed colour images, is useful for the evaluation of consumer products but is inadequate for the needs of cultural heritage institutions and the preservation of their collections. These collections contain both pictorial images and documents that are saved for their information content or aesthetic value (or both). Several digital print types were tested with variation in soak time, measurement types, and assessment criteria. The final result of this project is a new test method with expanded evaluation criteria.

Burge, D., and J. Scott. 2010. “Further Studies Toward Assessing the Risk of Damage to Digital Prints During Flood Events.” Journal of Imaging Science and Technology 54(2): 1-6. Download the full paper in PDF format


Resistance of Digitally and Traditionally Printed Materials to Bleed, Delamination, Gloss Change, and Planar Distortion during Flood

It is imperative that cultural heritage institutions with digitally printed materials in their collections understand the sensitivities of these objects to water exposure during flood. Anecdotal evidence from institutions and the general public suggest that some digital print processes are extremely sensitive to water exposure. Understanding this vulnerability will be critical for institutions in modernizing their disaster response plans to include digital prints; inappropriate response could lead to loss of material due to its inherent sensitivity to water or due to contamination of adjacent collection materials through bleeding of the image-forming colorants. A variety of digital print types were immersed in water for 24 hours and then evaluated by measuring changes in color and gloss, and inspecting text readability, delamination, and or planar distortion. As expected, most prints experienced at least slight planar distortion; some, however, suffered extreme forms of damage including colorant bleed or complete delamination or dissolution of the image/text layer. Because the digital prints were often more sensitive than traditional prints to flood damage, results indicate that new flood response strategies should be developed for collections that contain these materials. 

Burge, D., and J. Scott. 2012. “Resistance of Digitally and Traditionally Printed Materials to Bleed, Delamination, Gloss Change, and Planar Distortion during Flood.” Journal of the America Institute for Conservation of Artistic and Historic Works 51(2): 145-158. (PDF not available)


Potential for Colorant Transfer between Adjacent Inkjet Prints during Water Emergencies
Meghan Connor

The purpose of this experiment was to test and analyze potential colorant transfer to and from adjacent inkjet prints during water emergencies. The experiment was divided into three parts: dye prints, pigment prints, and prints in polyester sleeves. The water submersion configurations included side-by-side (not in contact), stacked front-to-back or stacked in polyester sleeves. Drying variations included prints separated or unseparated. Prints submerged side-by-side (not in contact) showed little to no cross bleeding from one to the other. It was also found that separating stacked prints from one another at the time at which they are removed from water will minimize colorant transfer between the two. However, the best option to prevent colorant transfer in prints was to store them in polyester sleeves.

Connor, Meghan. 2015. “Potential for Colorant Transfer between Adjacent Inkjet Prints during Water Emergencies.” DP3 Newsletter, Issue 24: July 2015. Download the full paper in PDF format


Freeze-Drying Wet Digital Prints: An Option for Salvage?

Margin Jürgens and Norbert Schempp

On the occasion of the collapse of the Historical Archive of the City of Cologne in March 2009 and the ensuing salvage effort, questions were raised about the use of freeze drying for soaked digital prints, a technique that has not yet been evaluated for these materials. This study examines the effects of immersion, air-drying, drying in a blotter stack, freezing and freeze-drying on 35 samples of major digital printing processes. The samples were examined visually before, during and after testing; evaluation of the results was qualitative. Results show that some prints were already damaged by immersion alone (e.g. bleeding inks and soluble coatings) to the extent that the subsequent choice of drying method made no significant difference anymore. For those samples that did survive immersion, air-drying proved to be crucial for water-sensitive prints, since any contact with the wet surface caused serious damage. Less water-sensitive prints showed no damage throughout the entire procedure, regardless of drying method. Some prints on coated media suffered from minor surface disruption up to total delamination of the surface coating due to the formation of ice crystals during shock-freezing. With few exceptions, freeze-drying did not cause additional damage to any of the prints that hadn’t already been damaged by freezing. It became clear that an understanding of the process and materials is important for choosing an appropriate drying method.

Jürgens.M.C. and Schempp, N. 2010. "Freeze-Drying Wet Digital Prints: An Option for Salvage?" Journal of Physics: Conference Series. Vol. 231, No. 1. Download the full paper in PDF format