IPI devoted years of scientific research and field work to the understanding and preservation of film and media collections in museums, archives, libraries, and other repositories. In the 1990s IPI’s most significant contributions related to new approaches for quantifying collection risks and rates of deterioration. Laboratory experiments at IPI demonstrated that as cellulose acetate film deteriorates, and creates its own acidic environment, the rate of deterioration accelerates and significant loss of collection materials can occur it a short amount of time. IPI developed A-D (acid-detecting) Strips®, acid-base indicators that change color from blue, to green, and eventually yellow in the presence of increasing amounts of acetic acid, to provide collection stewards with a non-destructive technique for assessing the condition of acetate film in collections, and for monitoring film in new storage environments.
In addition to developing tools for assessing the condition of film collections, IPI research contributed significantly to the preservation field’s understanding of the benefits of low-temperature storage for the long-term preservation of film collections. An introduction to the benefits of low-temperature storage and guidelines for planning for low-temperature storage are summarized online at FilmCare.org and in the IPI Storage Guide for Acetate Film. Additional information about the benefits of low-temperature storage for mixed collections is provided in the IPI Media Storage Quick Reference. IPI consulting services include film storage assessments.
IPI received a Technical Achievement Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 1997 for A-D Strips.
FilmCare.org is used worldwide by institutions caring for film collections.
A-D Strips® Sold
A-D Strips are dye-coated paper strips designed to detect and measure the severity of acetate deterioration in film collections.
Mapping Environmental Conditions That Prevent Plastic Deterioration While Contributing to Sustainable Preservation Environmental Management
This research project will study the relationship between equilibrium moisture content (EMC) and the physical stability of plastics and plastic composite artifacts found in museums. Objects such as modern and contemporary artworks, design, fashion, and ethnographic items often include plastics, as do the storage materials used for photographs. The project team will use multiple types of analyses, including a case study, to assess the effect of microscopic changes in humidity on the physical structure of two types of plastics commonly found in museum collections. The project will establish safe preservation and handling conditions for these plastics, specifically temperature and relative humidity. Findings will be shared through journal articles, conference presentations, and a web publication.
Institute of Museum and Library Services
2024 - 2025
Emma Richardson, PhD
IPI developed A-D Strips®, dye-coated paper strips designed to detect and measure the severity of acetate deterioration ("vinegar syndrome") in film and other acetate collections. A-D Strips® provide collection stewards a non-destructive technique for assessing the condition of acetate film in collections, and for monitoring film in new storage environments.
IPI’s knowledge and experience in film preservation is synthesized in a web-based application called FilmCare.org. This site provides information and an easy-to-implement decision-making tool for preserving all types and formats of film materials. It highlights the need for defining sustainable approaches to film care and facilitates the otherwise intricate process of implementing best-fit preservation strategies for a wide variety of real-life situations.
In collaboration with the Association of Moving Image Archivists, IPI established the Image Permanence Institute Internship in Preservation Research. The purpose of the IPI Internship is to give a student of merit who is committed to the preservation of moving images the opportunity to acquire practical experience in preservation research. IPI interns gain knowledge of IPI activities, which include research on media stability, condition evaluation of collections, environmental assessment, and the development of management tools for various media. Internship activities can include designing and conducting research, developing preservation strategies for collections, or assisting with ongoing IPI research projects. The student selected as the IPI Intern receives a $5000 stipend to be used for living expenses during the three-month internship and reimbursement of travel fares to and from Rochester, New York related to the IPI Internship.