Handling Fragile Scrolls

Fragile and damaged scrolls may be unrolled if careful measures are taken to prevent further damage. Collections surveys and assessments of scroll collections will identify those too fragile for exhibition, digitization, and patron access. If it is necessary to view a fragile scroll, have extra smooth, clean weights ready to support the scroll open, and placed at either end of the table to prevent the scroll from rolling off.
Ask the assistance of a conservator if the scroll is extremely damaged.

Scrolls are vulnerable to damage in the form of creases on both the art and the mounting [left]. Squeezing the scroll and tying the cord tightly will also cause a crease to form. Over time, creases may become more pronounced and at greater risk of splitting or causing media loss [right]. Place a weight at both ends of the crease for support while unrolling, as shown below.


Place weights at the top and bottom edge of the mounting. If there are sharp creases, place weights at each end of the crease. Avoid touching or placing weights directly on the art work surface. If needed, smooth clean weights can support a break or delamination in the artwork. While unrolling and rolling the scroll, use even tension to prevent further damage.



To re-roll the scroll, place each hand on a roller bar end. Keep the mounting aligned and maintain even tension. In case of misalignment or telescoping of the scroll, do not force the edges to align with your fingers, as damage to the art work and mounting may occur. Unroll to correct, then continue.