If aesthetically appropriate, apply an isolation coat and varnish to acrylic paintings to facilitate ease of cleaning. Use a removable varnish such as GOLDEN Polymer Varnish or MSA Varnish. The removable varnish layer allows the painting’s surface to be cleaned at a much lower risk. If it becomes scratched or if dirt does become permanently embedded in this layer, the varnish layer can be sacrificed by removing it (consult GOLDEN Technical Data Sheets for Polymer Varnish and MSA Varnish for removal techniques), and a fresh layer of varnish can be applied to restore the painting to its original appearance.
Practice proactive prevention. Display paintings in the cleanest, lowest traffic areas possible. Vacuum or mop these areas, rather than sweeping, to minimize airborne dusts.
Minimize exposure of acrylics to elevated temperature, especially in combination with dusty conditions. Such areas may be near hot air inlets, in direct sunlight or attics.
Minimize frequency of direct contact, such as dusting of unprotected acrylic surfaces. Instead, use compressed air.
Seek out professional services as appropriate for the piece and conditions. By virtue of training, experience, tools and techniques, the risk of damage to the painting will be much less if it is cleaned by a reputable professional in the field of fine art conservation.
Recognizing the need for specific techniques for protecting as well as cleaning acrylic paintings, we invite response from conservation professionals who wish to share their experiences.