Jersey Frame. T-Shirt Frame. That box frame thing. All titles for the Shadowbox; the versitile, deeper souled, cousin of the traditional picture frame.

At The Frame Room, our core philosophy is to educate and inform our customers during the picture framing decision process and empower them to make the best decision for their personal needs. For many of our customers, they are picking out framing and/or matting for a highly personal, sentimental, and valuable object. To some, they are simply framing a poster, print, sports jersey, or even framing a diploma to protect it from the elements and ravages of time. This article will help to outline the basics of shadowboxing in order to beautifully display and preserve your dimensional objects.

Shadowboxes represent a specific type of framing where an object is enclosed in a dimensional frame creating a striking display as well as an enclosed preservation environment for the object. Most often people are accustomed to seeing sports memorabilia such as sports jerseys mounted in a shadowbox, but really any object can be mounted in a shadowbox in order to display and preserve it. Objects commonly framed in a shadowbox include:


  • Military Metals
  • Flags (folded and unfolded)
  • Sports Memorabilia such as Event Tickets, Baseball Bats, Jerseys and Shirts
  • Children’s Art Projects
  • Travel Souvenirs like Shells and Maps
  • Asian Fans and Kimonos
  • Butterflies and Specimen Collections
  • Fishing Lures and Photos to commemorate “The Big Catch”
  • Bridal keepsakes like Veils and Garters
  • Weapons such as Antique Guns and Swords
  • Sports balls, such as signed baseballs, footballs, and basketballs.

The options for shadowboxes far exceed basic framing because 3-D objects can be mixed with 2-D photographs or papers to create a dramatic visual result. The depth of the shadowbox also allows objects to be layered at different heights to create a dynamic arrangement within the frame. There really is no restriction to what you can display in a shadowbox. The frames are available in a wide range of depths to accommodate objects of all sizes. Whether you choose to mount a single item as a statement piece, or include several objects associated with a display theme, the visual impact a shadowbox creates can add emphasis and distinction to your presentation.
Military retirement gifts such as folded flags can be mounted with metals or certificates of accomplishment to honor a service member’s achievements over their career. Wedding keepsakes such as veils and garters can be grouped with invitations, dried flowers or handkerchiefs to create a lasting memory of your special day or as a sentimental anniversary gift.


The history of the shadowbox is usually associated with military service. Naval members would keep their belongings in a trunk that travelled with them throughout their careers and at the end of their service they would often use the worn lift out tray of the trunk to display their metals, awards and keepsakes.


Modern shadowboxes are constructed similar to picture frames; they include the frame, glazing, matting, and object mountings. Frames are available in a wide range of finishes as well as depths to complement the items being displayed. Similarly, any matting can be used to highlight the displayed objects. The depth of the shadow box lends the designer the ability to place the matting against the glazing to give a "window" effect as well as against the mounting board further inside the shadowbox to create areas of focus within the display.


 Special consideration should be given to the glazing used in a shadowbox because light reflecting off the viewing surface (i.e glare) can greatly reduce the viewing angles, distort colors and decrease the resolution of your carefully planned display. Conservation grade glazing with <1% light reflection is the absolute best glazing for shadowboxes because it provides the highest level of protection for your valuables. By selecting Museum or UltraVue glass, known for their anti-glare/reflection properties, your shadowbox glazing will be almost invisible to viewers! In our shop, the displays of Tru Vue Museum Glass and Optimum Museum Acrylic glazings always have fingerprints on them because viewers can’t believe there really is glazing in the frame! UV protection in the glazing is also important to help preserve the objects on display. More delicate items like dried flowers and fabrics can be noticeable damaged by UV rays in a shorter period of time, so choosing a glazing with a UV defense will help further preserve the items in your shadowbox.


Glazings with reduced reflection coatings (non-glare) include Tru Vue Reflection Control, Tru Vue UltraView, Tru Vue Conservation Reflection Control, Tru Vue Museum Glass, Reflection Control Acrylite, Conservation Reflection Control Acrylite, Optimum Acrylic (Anti-Reflective), Optimum Museum Acrylic (Anti-Reflective) and Optimum Museum. The chart below outlines some of the qualities of the different glazings listed above. A more in-depth description of each glazing can be found in How to Choose Picture Frame Glazing on our Learn Picture Framing Blog.


  Conservation grade UV protection? Percent Light Reflected back (glare) Glass or Acrylic? Benefits
Tru Vue Reflection Control No (45%) 8% Glass Lower cost than other non-glare
Tru Vue UltraView No (78%) <1% Glass Increased UV and greater glare reduction
Tru Vue Conservation Reflection Control Yes (99%) 8% Glass Reduced glare with Conservation UV protection
Tru Vue Museum Glass Yes (99%) <1% Glass Highest protection with greatest viewing clarity available
Reflection Control Acrylite No (66%) 8% Acrylic Less risk of damage if dropped, Lightweight
Conservation Reflection Control Acrylite Yes (98%) 8% Acrylic UV protection in lightweight acrylic
Optimum Acrylic             (Anti-Reflective) No(93%) <1.6% Acrylic Additional Anti-static protection for charcoals, pastels, etc.
Optimum Museum Acrylic (Anti-Reflective) Yes (99%) <1.6% Acrylic Anti-static and ideal for larger frames (>40” x 60”)

Optimum Museum Display Acrylic

Yes (99%) <1% Acrylic Able to be seamlessly joined with highest levels of protection


We hope you have found this article informative. This article is part of a series intended to introduce you to all the components and levels of framing. The series includes:


Interested in getting your piece shadowboxed? Check out our $225 Shadowbox Special. A great Shadow Box Framing special that gives you a high quality shadowbox, standard glass, black backing board, dust cover, and all hanging hardware at an incredibly affordable price.


We look forward to being there to serve all of your custom picture framing needs.