A friend told me that the image is disappearing not because it is fading but because the whole cloth is getting darker while the image is not. Is that true? Can it be treated with something to prevent it from happening?
According to Bryan Walsh, Alan Adler offered the following comments at the Richmond Shroud Conference in 1999:
The image on the Shroud is a conjugated carbonyl. Since the image fibers are at or near saturation and the surrounding cloth isn’t, the surrounding cloth will gradually get darker and darker with time until the image first becomes a silhouette and later finally disappears altogether. It is imperative, therefore, that we MUST archive, using the best possible imaging techniques available, the entire Shroud if only to preserve it for posterity.
I don’t know if this information has been confirmed by others. It should be important to know this for sure. As for treating the cloth, I don’t know, but I very much doubt that anyone would want to. It certainly isn’t a painting in want of restoration. Much better to examine it now, as best we can, and continue to make high definition images for future generations.