Mylar – Definition, Examples, History & More – Art Conservation and Restoration Glossary

What is Mylar?

Mylar is a brand name for a type of polyester film that is known for its strength, durability, and transparency. It is commonly used in a variety of applications, including packaging, insulation, and art conservation.

Mylar is often used as a protective covering for valuable documents, artwork, and photographs due to its ability to provide a barrier against moisture, dust, and other environmental contaminants.

History of Mylar

Mylar was first developed by the DuPont company in the 1950s as a replacement for cellophane. It quickly gained popularity due to its superior strength and resistance to tearing.

In the 1960s, Mylar became widely used in the aerospace industry for its ability to withstand extreme temperatures and provide a protective barrier for spacecraft and satellites.

Today, Mylar is used in a wide range of industries, including electronics, food packaging, and art conservation.

Properties of Mylar

Mylar is a polyester film that is known for its high tensile strength, chemical resistance, and dimensional stability. It is also transparent, lightweight, and heat-resistant.

One of the key properties of Mylar is its ability to provide a barrier against moisture, dust, and other environmental contaminants, making it ideal for protecting valuable artwork and documents.

Mylar is also recyclable and can be easily cut, folded, and shaped to fit a variety of applications.

Common Uses of Mylar in Art Conservation and Restoration

Mylar is commonly used in art conservation and restoration to protect valuable artwork from damage caused by light, moisture, and handling.

Mylar sleeves and covers are often used to protect photographs, prints, and documents from dust and fingerprints, while Mylar sheets can be used to create protective barriers for paintings and other works of art.

Mylar is also used in the framing of artwork to create a protective layer between the artwork and the glass, preventing damage from moisture and other environmental factors.

Conservation Concerns with Mylar

While Mylar is a popular choice for protecting artwork, there are some conservation concerns to consider when using Mylar in art conservation and restoration.

One concern is the potential for off-gassing, where volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are released from the Mylar film and can cause damage to the artwork over time.

Another concern is the potential for static electricity to build up on the Mylar surface, which can attract dust and other contaminants that can damage the artwork.

Best Practices for Using Mylar in Art Conservation and Restoration

To minimize the risk of off-gassing and static electricity buildup, it is important to use high-quality Mylar film that is specifically designed for archival purposes.

When handling artwork with Mylar sleeves or covers, it is important to use clean, dry hands and to avoid touching the Mylar surface to prevent fingerprints and other contaminants from transferring to the artwork.

It is also important to store artwork in a cool, dry environment away from direct sunlight and other sources of heat and humidity to prevent damage to the Mylar film and the artwork it is protecting.

By following these best practices, Mylar can be a valuable tool for protecting and preserving valuable artwork for future generations to enjoy.