What counts as a family heirloom has changed drastically over the last few decades. For some households, family heirlooms are photos of previous generations, letters, and military medals. For others, an important family heirloom is simply a piece of their childhood they want to pass on, from playing cards to pristine accessories. No matter what you hope to pass on, let’s explore ideas on how to preserve important family heirlooms so the next generation can treasure them as much as you do.
Display Your Heirlooms With Care
If you choose to keep your family heirlooms on display, there are a few safety precautions you can take to extend their life spans. Sun damage is a particular issue for paper and fabric items, as the regular exposure to UV rays fades colors over time. Keeping any objects out of direct sunlight protects them from this issue.
You should try to keep any delicate heirlooms behind glass where loved ones can see them easily but avoid breaking them. Shadow boxes and display cases both do a great job of securing important items while making them look their best.
Store Them Somewhere Safe
Many family members in charge of the heirlooms choose to store them somewhere safe. While putting items into storage does protect them from the bustle of daily life, there are some storage mistakes to avoid.
First, it’s crucial to avoid storing heirlooms of any sort in a space with high or fluctuating humidity. Attics and basements are convenient places to stow things away. Unfortunately, both are subject to changing environmental conditions that lead to mold growth.
You also want to place heirlooms with financial value into secure lockboxes. Today, many lockboxes are both fire and water-resistant. Safety deposit boxes aren’t as widely available as they once were, but this storage option is worth considering for precious items or documents.
Keep Everything Clean
One action you can take to preserve important family heirlooms is to keep them clean. Dust may not seem like a significant issue for many heirlooms, but the actual dust particles contain trace chemicals that do damage over time.
Any family heirlooms that people use frequently should also receive regular maintenance. For example, storied quilts are a cozy reminder of loved ones passed, but properly laundering quilts between uses is key to preserving them. It’s a good idea to give jewelry a quick cleaning before passing it down as well, both to show off its beauty and to rid it of grime and buildup.