In the art world, the term archival means something used to protect artworks kept in a controlled indoor environment. The usual example of a controlled indoor environment is a museum. The common causes of deterioration are light, temperature, moisture, air pollutants, airborne particles, insects, and vibration. Strictly speaking, conservationists expect archival materials to be of such quality that they can protect artworks from those elements for at least seventy-five years.
Archival materials should not age rapidly and be able to protect the artwork from ultraviolet and infrared light, air pollutants, insects, acid migration, mould and mildew, stains from oxidation of metals (e.g., iron and copper) and changes in temperature and moisture levels.
PH neutrality (commonly referred to as acid-free) is an indispensable criterion for archival materials. Otherwise, acid compounds in the material or absorbed from external sources will migrate to the artwork during natural ageing and cause damage. For that reason, materials like boards and paper (which come into contact with the artwork during storage) are not only required to be acid-free when they leave the factory but also be buffered with alkaline reserves to counter acid compounds from being absorbed from the atmosphere.
The products are commonly used in the storage and preservation of artworks: shelves, wire mesh screens, framing materials, cloth, panels, films, fabrics, foam core, mat boards, cardboards, tube rolls, paper, tissue, polyethene sheets, polypropylene sheets, polystyrene, bubble wrap, boxes, folders, zip lock bags, cards, binders, velcro dots, seals, tapes, labels, photo corner, adhesives, waxes, gels, putties, pads, weights, hanging bars, straps, tie-downs, buckles, metal rods, staples, hooks, and insect control products. Not all of these materials will have the same lifespan. Some might only last a generation. A material with a shorter lifespan may still be safe for use provided no damage to the artwork or other materials will occur when it's time for a replacement.