What does “Archival” mean?

We use the term “archival” when referring to organizational storage systems to store your old photos (prints on photo paper that were made using film negatives).

Archival storage boxes are special boxes that museums and galleries use to preserve photographs. These archival boxes are used to house photographs for long-term storage in order to prolong their life and maintain their original condition.

When a photo storage box is described as “acid-free” or “archival” it usually means that the materials used to make the box have been buffered with calcium carbonate. This results in a storage box that acts as an alkaline reserve that captures residual acids in the air. Acid, by nature, deteriorates photographs. The archival storage box counteracts residual acids so they don’t attack your photographs and deteriorate them. Regular cardboard boxes do not have this ability and they can actually contribute to the deterioration of your photos because of their high acid content.

If you want to try to preserve your original prints once they are scanned to a digital file, it is best practice to use archival storage materials. Be aware that the term “Photo Safe” does not necessarily mean that a storage container is “archival”.

Our archival storage systems are sourced from reputable suppliers within the conservation industry who supply museums and galleries. They are available at a range of price points. When you work with us, we will advise on the best approach for permanent storage based on your priorities and your budget. Even though your photos may be housed in archival storage boxes, the longevity and condition of your original materials is based on environmental conditions.

Archival Legacy Boxes - large and small
Archival Legacy Boxes with dividers are available in both large (holds 2400 – 4×6 or 5×7 photographs and small (holds 1200 – 4×6 or 5×7 photographs). Available from Family Photo Fix

Visit our page on storage recommendations to learn more.