Many disasters we face – from hurricanes to fires – are largely out of our control, but in most cases, steps can be taken to lessen the impact to our collections. One important step to take is to include Integrated Pest Management (IPM) in your daily operations and emergency planning so you are not caught unaware.
Dealing with a pest infestation starts with identification: once you know what you’re dealing with, you can tailor your plan to remove the pest with the least damage to your collection. The Integrated Pest Management Working Group has created an excellent library of fact sheets to help with this important step:
When disaster strikes, it’s a good idea to have anything you might need for staff safety, cleanup, and collection recovery in a single location that any staff member can access. Necessary equipment may vary by institution, but these checklists are a great way to get started.
For a more in-depth and practical look at writing a disaster plan, we suggest the educational video series called “Writing a Disaster Plan” created by the Collections Care Network of the American Institute for Conservation (AIC) in 2015. This is the first video in the series that can be found on AIC’s YouTube Channel.
Developing an emergency plan for a collection is an important yet intimidating task. There are many different ways to approach it, and professional resources are available to help you. We think this reference guide created by the American Alliance for Museums is a great place to start!
As received from the Emergency Programs Coordinator at the American Institute for Conservation/Foundation for Advancement in Conservation:
Hurricane Isaias’ path is very uncertain and the storm may intensify, so we urge all those on the East Coast potentially impacted by the storm to take precautions and prepare now. It’s also important to consider how COVID-19 may impact your emergency plans. You can find resources on personal preparedness here: https://www.ready.gov/hurricanes
Cultural heritage institutions, the National Heritage Responders are available 24/7 for remote assistance: 202-661-8068. Please share the hotline information with colleagues in potentially impacted areas. NHR also offers tip sheets on response and recovery: https://bit.ly/2zbMLbi
In particular, take the time to review your plan now, before an emergency happens. If you don’t have a plan, please review the guidelines for personal protection and emergency planning on the Department of Homeland Security website:
For your institution and collections, start exploring tips and streamlined guidelines on
We receive and share useful tips on care of personal collections from the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation:
“While those of us in the conservation department are working from home, we are finding comfort in our family heirlooms and treasures—many of which require our attention. Like so many around the country, we are finally taking the time to clean out our closets, sort through our attics, and look through our family albums. While we all turn to our family treasures for comfort during these trying times, the conservation department would like to share tips on ways to care for your personal collections. Each week a different student from the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation will address ways to care for the collections in your cupboards. This series will continue throughout the summer and cover a variety of items and materials; published posts are listed below.”