PCF Helps Pasadena Museum of History Put the Freeze on Endangered Photo Negatives

When founded, Pasadena Museum of History’s original mission was to collect, preserve, and exhibit materials that documented the founding and early history of the city. This mission to document Pasadena remains unchanged today, and one of PMH’s critical areas of work is photograph and negative preservation. The historic negatives collection contains irreplaceable early views of Pasadena life and industry, all of which are one-of-a-kind.

PHM staff, interns, and volunteers continue to work tirelessly to log and preserve the museum’s collection of negatives.

But the negatives deteriorate over time without a carefully controlled environment, and PHM found that some of its negatives were beginning to break down, endangering precious Pasadena history. The answer to this problem is freezing the negatives, so PHM launched the “Great History Freeze” project! Freezing the negatives puts them in a chemically inert state, stopping the deterioration. To help this effort, PCF awarded PMH a 2017 Capital Grant of $6,608 for 4 freezers and a computer to monitor temperature and humidity levels.

“Pasadena Museum of History houses the largest existing photographic archive of Pasadena – about one million prints and negatives,” said PMH Executive Director, Jeannette O’Malley. “The generous support of the Pasadena Community Foundation will ensure that these images of our shared history will be preserved for future generations of historians, archivists, scholars, and the community.”

Freezing not only equals stability, it is more cost-effective than scanning every negative and digitally storing them. It also has the added benefit of preserving the historic artifact. For more information on the negative freezing project, click here.

PCF is proud to have supported this important preservation effort!