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Preservation Matting & Framing

Proper matting, framing and display of photos and art can allow you to enjoy your items while protecting them.

The mat packet

Preservation matting involves creating several layers which make up a "mat packet." 

They consist of:

  • A back mat
  • The piece of art
  • A mat with a window, called the "inner mat" or the "inner front mat." 

This packet can be used to store pieces of art or photographs when they are not on display. 

When in storage, you can lay a piece of acid-free paper on top of the inner front mat as a dust cover. 

Most mat packets are stored flat, in acid-free boxes. The packet itself will act as protection for the item, so mat packets can be stacked inside their storage boxes. 

Preservation framing adds several layers to the mat packet, including a backing board to protect the mat packet. 

It might add a decorative mat with a window; this is called the "outer mat" or the "outer front mat." 

The frame itself will have UV protective glass or acrylic as the glazing. 

Some mat packets will include both the inner front and the outer front mats. This is especially true if the mats are designed to complement each other and the art. The inclusion of both mats will add some protection to the art itself when it is being stored.


Flip view of mat packet layering for preservation framing.

imls180.for.panel.jpgMany of these resources and programs are funded under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Florida's LSTA program is administered by the Department of State's Division of Library and Information Services.