Zero Oxygen: The Hot New Thing in Conservation

A Bacon ballpoint at the Tate (Photo courtesy

Museum conservationists are breathless about a hot new method of preserving art! It’s called anoxic, or oxygen-free, storage and a recent five-year study at the Tate Modern has shown it to be surprisingly effective in slowing the deterioration of works of art.

Earlier this week, conservation scientists met at the Tate for a symposium to discuss the findings, The Art Newspaper reports.

“It seems that, despite real questions about the relationship between real-time fade rates and microfading, we are on the cusp of a sea change in the way we think about lighting and light-sensitivity of works of art, and this could have a profound impact on how we manage collections,” said [Tate head of collection care research Pip] Laurenson.

The process was used at the recent Met exhibit on Alfred Stieglitz and, in the Tate study, was found to be particularly effective in preserving the Tate’s collection of Francis Bacon ballpoint-pen drawings Zero Oxygen: The Hot New Thing in Conservation