Historic Columbia Offers Preservation Services to Flood Victims

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In response to the recent flooding catastrophe, Historic Columbia’s Department of Cultural Resources staff is offering free consultation services for basic preservation of damaged items (paintings, family photos, furniture and textiles, etc.). Staff will come to affected areas as resources allow. For more information, please contact historiccolumbia.org

General points:

  1. Avoid drying wet things in direct sunlight!
  2. Use paper towels to blot off excess water. Newspapers can rub ink onto other paper.
  3. Un-frame works of art or photos behind glass if wet.
  4. Many water-damaged items can be repaired or conserved—do not be too hasty in throwing them away.
  5. If a stack of family photos are stuck together, put in paper towel and freeze. They can be slowly thawed out and separated later.
  6. Take a digital photo of printed photos if they are heavily damaged. The digital image can later be printed and the damage retouched.

Framed objects/ Works on paper/ Photographs:

  • Un-frame if wet.
  • Use paper towels to blot.
  • Dry flat out of the direct sun.


  • Clean mud and dirt off with paper towel and clean water.
  • Avoid drying in direct sun. This will cause wood to crack, especially veneers.
  • Avoid using heavy cleaning agents, such as bleach wipes, as they can strip wood of its finish.

Metal objects:

  • Clean off mud/dirt with clean water.
  • Dry with paper towel.
  • Do not apply solvents like WD40 on sculpture or other works of art in metal.

Ceramics/ Glass:

  • Clean with soap and water.
  • Ceramics and glass normally do not “pick up” and hold mud and dirt. They can be cleaned.


  • Delicate fabrics should be carefully hand washed using dye and perfume free detergent and cold, distilled water.
  • Wash only as a necessity as some dyes can and will run.
  • Do not wring the fabric after washing-put it between layers of clean dry towels and gently squeeze out water. Hang to dry in indirect light.