Guidance Motion Pictures
What Is The Best Environment To Store Materials In?
Based on NARA Directive 1571, the ideal temperature for storing modern, polyester black and white films is 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Black and white acetate-base film (generally pre-1970) should be kept at 35 degrees Fahrenheit. To slow fading, all color films can be stored at 35 degrees Fahrenheit. All films are best stored in a 35% +/- 5% relative humidity environment. It should be noted that it is common practice (circa 2016) to store color film at 25 degrees Fahrenheit or lower.
In the absence of ideal storage conditions, films can still survive for decades as long as they are kept in a stable environment that is not too hot, too dry, or too wet. Find an area with stably low temperatures, low humidity, and protection from flooding, air pollutants, and sunlight. A closet or cabinet on the main floor of a building are often the best choice. A film stored there will fare much better than a film stored in a basement or attic with extreme fluctuations in temperature or humidity.
Avoid storing your motion picture film in a non-climate-controlled basement or on the floor where water, insects, or rodents might damage it. Damp conditions may accelerate conditions such as Damp conditions may accelerate conditions such as vinegar syndrome or encourage mold growth on the film. Insects and rodents may eat film emulsion.
Where can I find more information?
- NARA Directive 1571 Archival Storage Standards from the National Archives
- IPI Storage Guide for Acetate Film from the Image Permanence Institute
- IPI Media Storage Quick Reference from the Image Permanence Institute
- The Home Film Preservation Guide from Film Forever
- Chapter 6: Storage from the NFPF Film Preservation Guide