Our Annual Framed Print Sale Now On. All one of a kind works. Until 30 June or sold out. Visit Gallery 360 to get first choice.

Paper Fish by Christine Hingston

Matting is the border that surrounds your art within the frame. It is more than just a pretty colour; the purpose of matting is both protective and cosmetic.

In conservation terms, the main purpose of matting is to keep the cover/glass from coming into contact with the framed subject matter. Placing the glass directly against the artwork can result in buckles, wrinkles, mould formations, Newton’s rings (applicable to photographs) and adherence to the glass.

Using higher quality mat board is essential to protecting your artwork. Mat board that is not rated as conservation quality contains elements that will damage the artwork over time. These natural substances include acids, nitrogen dioxide and sulphur dioxide (found in the air we all breathe) and lignin. Through the aging process, which is intensified by sunlight and heat, the mat board burns or discolours the art that it surrounds.

“Acid free” is a term commonly flung around in the framing industry. Often it means a mat is used that is made of acidic materials such as ground wood pulp, that is buffered with calcium or magnesium carbonates to raise the mat’s PH level so it can be declared “acid free” at the point of manufacture. This is true however, over time, the acids in the mat and the surrounding wood frames etc, cause the protection provided by the buffering material to decrease until eventually (within a few short years) the mat is no longer ‘acid free’. While these mats are certainly cheaper than mats that do not contain lignins and ground wood, the short term benefit of saving a few dollars, is far outweighed by the longer term benefit of not having to reframe the artwork or document in 5 -10 years time to prevent possible damage to the item).

As our standard, mat boards used by gallery 360 are 100% alpha cellulose and completely acid and lignin-free. All mounting of conservation artwork is carried out so it can be completely removable, to ensure no damage to your art.

Our mat boards goes beyond the basics of preservation to provide the highest level of archival protection available. It effectively shields against the pollutants and acid by-products that fade, discolour and damage artwork.

The mat boards used at Gallery 360 are the same as those used in hundreds of leading galleries and museums including:

  • The Smithsonian Institution Washington, DC
  • Tate Gallery London, England
  • Victoria & Albert Museum London, England
  • Whitney Museum of American Art New York, NY
  • British National Library London, England
  • Bibliothèque Nationale Paris, France
  • National Monuments of Records Centre (RCHME) Swindon, England
  • National Museum of Film, Television & Photography Bradford,West Yorkshire
  • National Museum of Wales Cardiff,Wales
  • National Portrait Gallery London, England
  • National Postal Museum London, England
  • Museum of Fine Arts Boston, MA
  • Museum of Modern Art New York, NY
  • National Archives Washington, DC
  • National Archives of Canada Ottawa, Ontario
  • National Gallery of Art Washington, DC
  • National Library of Ireland Dublin, Ireland

The main purpose of matting is not just visual, but protective. Mats keep the glass from coming into contact with your artwork. This provides an air space to prevent damage due to condensation behind the glass. For other design options, we use liners, mat walls and acrylic spacers to separate artwork from glass and acrylic.

“Alphamat Artcare provides the best preservation quality protection for your art.”

Gallery 360 use only preservation quality acid-free and lignin free mat boards to protect your valuable art. These mats are available in solid core rag board (100% cotton) or with coloured and textured surfaces over acid-free centres made from alpha cellulose fibres. Bainbridge has a patented technological advantage with their ARTCARE line of mats. Embedded in their mat boards and acid-free foam core boards are micro chambers, which trap impurities and protect art from the effects of pollution, paper degradation and the by- products of the art´s own aging. Photographs and prints respond well to this Micro Chamber Technology, which prevents accelerated yellowing. For more detailed information, we include an article by the former Director or Preservation at The Library of Congress and a technical report on Zeolite Molecular Traps:


Preservation Consultant and Former Director for Preservation, Library of Congress

Over time, many factors, including air pollution, paper degradation and acid by-products of the art’s own aging can seriously damage prints, photographs and all types of art.

Only Alphamat Artcare products contain patented MicroChamber technology that actively protects art by eliminating these harmful pollutants, significantly extending the life of the framed piece something no other museum-quality board can do!

“Laboratory observations made on these test photographs clearly show that Alphamat Artcare inhibits yellowing and fading of these colour images. With Alphamat Artcare, you achieve worry-free framing every time.”


To measure the long-term effects of pollution damage, these samples were exposed to nitrogen dioxide, the most common air pollution gas, in an accelerated laboratory test which simulates approximately 77 years of aging.

Both samples shown were tested together in the same testing chamber for the same length of time. Neither was exposed to light during testing. (We recommend using UV glazing for protection against light damage.)

Artcare Archival products meet all established industry standards for preservation materials. Available in nearly 300 colours and styles, Alphamat has a pure, solid white core and is fade and bleed resistant, with guaranteed colour consistency.