Experts Explain Why You Should Use Conservation-Quality Glass To Protect Your Old Photos

“When we opened our first gallery, we thought glass was just glass,” one expert wrote. “We couldn’t have been more wrong.”
A UV-protective acrylic photo frame from Amazon and a photo protected by Tru Vue acrylic from Amazon.

All picture frame glass is not created alike, especially when it comes to showcasing heirloom, old or otherwise special photos or artwork. These precious pieces may require extra protection to help prevent fading and other damage.

“When we opened our first gallery, we thought glass was just glass,” Jon Davies, a professional framer for the Chester, U.K.-based Alison Bradley Gallery, wrote over email. “We couldn’t have been more wrong.”

The kind of display you should look for to protect sentimental pieces? Either acrylic or glass with at least 97% UV-filtering glazing. It’s the conservation standard and “the only known solution to protect your work of art from harmful UV light while it is on display,” Carissa Tonner of The Conservation Center in Chicago told us over email. “[If] you want the value and integrity of the work to be protected for future generations, then UV glazing is always a worthwhile investment.”

This includes artwork that isn’t even exposed to direct sunlight: Any amount of light, according to both experts, contains some amount of UV with the potential to harm your piece. “UV filtering glazing is not a cure-all, but it will significantly slow the fading process,” Tonner noted.

While professionals can help you choose exactly what kind of glass or acrylic to use for your photos and artwork, we rounded up some accessible options from Amazon and Etsy that you can invest in to help protect your items now. Read on for our recommendations.

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A two-sided photo frame with UV protection
This double-sided, UV-filtering acrylic picture frame makes protecting your photographs extra easy. Simply slip your two photographs inside, and its magnetic corners will lock together to hold your pieces firmly in place while the material helps block UV rays. It’s available in four sizes and in packs of three.

It can also hold items like cards, letters and other items under 5 mm thickness.
A square wooden frame with UV-filtering acrylic
This versatile wooden frame sports UV-resistant acrylic to help safeguard precious photos, artwork, certificates and even puzzles. You can choose between 19 colors of finishes and 18 sizes.
A UV-protective wooden frame for diplomas and other prints
These elegant wooden frames will display precious documents like diplomas, certificates and artwork while protecting against UV rays, dust and moisture. They’re available in cherry and black finishes with various trim options, in two sizes and in packs of two.
Some Tru Vue museum-grade UV-filtering acrylic
Tru Vue is one of the manufacturers of choice for UV-protective glass and acrylic. This museum-grade acrylic filters up to 99% of UV rays in a multitude of sizes, comes with an anti-reflective coating and promises to be shatterproof. It's an attractive option if you already have a frame in mind; this way, you can use a frame you already own and simply switch out the glass.
A 99% UV-protective picture framing acrylic sheet
I ordered this 99% UV-protective acrylic from The Paper Framer on Etsy to help protect a particularly special photo from the 1920s. It’s given me peace of mind knowing that I can display it without having to worry about it fading in the sun. There are numerous sizes available, or you can message the store owner to order a custom size.
A 99% UV-filtering conservation-grade glass
Wall Decor Solutions Co. is another great Etsy option for UV-filtering conservation-grade glass. Their glazed glass features 99% UV protection and is available in nine sizes or a custom fit.

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