Foam Inserts behind the painting Art in Transit Handbook p. 106. Reproduced with permission from the publisher.
Foam Inserts behind the painting Art in Transit Handbook p. 106. Reproduced with permission from the publisher.
Cross-section of the backing board on the reverse of a painting.  Ideally, the air gap should not be more than 1 cm.
Cross-section of the backing board on the reverse of a painting.  Ideally, the air gap should not be more than 1 cm

A backing board with foam inserts is a passive system of preventive care for modern and contemporary paintings that can reduce the risks of damage from vibration, fluctuating temperature and humidity, pests, and dust in exhibit, storage, and transit. The foam inserts composed of ethafoam and volara and they can fill the air gap at the reverse of the back of canvas. Filling the air gaps by placing foam on the backing board can also tighten the canvas thus avoiding the intense and evasive structure treatment of flattening, loose lining, or strip lining. The potential applications and benefits of backing boards with foam inserts in paintings conservation are immeasurable especially for the over-sized modern and contemporary paintings. In the future, conservators must continue to study ways to reduce vibration and its negative effects by working closely with mechanical engineers to share their knowledge with each other. Conservators must also continue to work closely with fabricators to improve the tools and techniques for precision cutting of foam inserts while maintaining proper environmental health and safety systems.

For more information, see Tsang, Jia-sun. 2021. Vibration and Backing Boards: Observations on Risk Reduction for Modern and Contemporary Paintings Conservation, WAAC Newsletter, 43(2/3): 24-29