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Housing the Film Collection

Archivist Mandy Altimus Pond marks each can with information about the film, and places an A-D strip inside each can to detect the level of decay.
The A-D strip placed on the film takes 24 hours to show the proper level of deterioration. The strip will turn green or yellow if acetate vinegar syndrome and acid is present.

After years of prep, research, and digitization efforts, the Massillon Museum's moving picture film collection is ready to be put into cold storage. A total of 87 films are currently being tested with A-D strips (acid detector) to gauge the level of decay. Acetate films decay over time, breaking down and producing dangerous acidic conditions within the film can. Once a film reaches a certain acidity at its auto-catalytic point, the process accelerates until the film is completely lost. It is easy to tell if the films have "vinegar syndrome" (when a film is highly acidic and starting to decay). You merely open one of the film cans and if it smells of vinegar, you know you have a problem.

It is important to slow the decay of these film originals- that is where cold storage comes in. Putting films into colder temperatures with less moisutre can extend their life by hundreds of years.

Each film will be placed in an archival polyethelyne bag with a moisture monitor. These bags will then be placed in a freezer held at 10 degrees F. More than 90% of these films have been transferred to DVD to easier viewing by researchers and staff. Many of the films can be seen on the Massillon Museum's Youtube Channel.

The next step for Archivist Mandy Pond is to examine the film negatives of the Massillon Evening Independent. Eventually all 40,000 of the still image negatives will be placed in the freezer as well.

For further information on proper film storage, please see the Image Permanence Institute's guide.


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