Medium 9781442267848

Collections Vol 9 N1

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"Collections: A Journal for Museum and Archives Professionals" is a multi-disciplinary peer-reviewed journal dedicated to the discussion of all aspects of handling, preserving, researching, and organizing collections. Curators, archivists, collections managers, preparators, registrars, educators, students, and others contribute.

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Special Issue: International Symposium on Cultural Property Risk Analysis

ePub

This collection of essays continues the focus of the Fall 2012 issue, that is, the International Symposium and Workshop on Cultural Property Risk Analysis, an event devoted to an increasingly important aspect of cultural heritage: risk assessment and loss mitigation. The articles present a range of approaches clustered around the creation of a risk model and the means of risk analysis. In preparing this issue of the journal, again, a debt of gratitude must be paid to Rob Waller, Editorial Board member of the journal and Guest Editor, for his interest in assembling papers from this symposium solely dedicated to risk-based perspective and strategies.

Looking ahead to what’s in store in other issues that will appear in 2013, readers will be treated to a focus on Museum Studies from the academic perspective, automating collection records at the Peabody Museum, an overview of the Canadian Conservation Institute’s history and mandate, and the use of QR codes in museum collections management. In addition, we are at work on two guest-edited issues. Nancy Bryk, Assistant Professor of Historic Preservation at Eastern Michigan University, is gathering essays focusing on three topics fundamental to historic house management and interpretation (innovative or ingenious ways historic house staffs are monitoring, protecting, and caring for the collections; engagement of a board and community to re-think the use and interpretation of the house; and means of providing active learning and compelling interpretation in these environments, through their collections). And, Jane Milosch, Director of the Provenance Research Initiative Office of the Under Secretary for History, Art, and Culture at the Smithsonian Institution, is part of a team of guest-editors to undertake an issue focused on Provenance Research. As always, I am grateful to scholars and practitioners who come forth with such scintillating ideas upon which we are able to devote entire issues of the journal. And, to those who submit your work for review, please continue to share your interest, experience, and passion with our Editorial Board and readership. Thank you, all, for what you do to keep Collections relevant, engaging, and timely.

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Collections Risk Assessment at the Royal BC Museum and Archives

ePub

Kasey Lee

Chief Conservator, Royal British Columbia Museum, 675 Belleville Street, Victoria, BC V8W 9W2 Canada; email: klee@royalbcmuseum.bc.ca

Delphine Castles

Collection Manager, Royal British Columbia Museum, 675 Belleville Street, Victoria, BC V8W 9W2 Canada; email:dcastles@royalbcmuseum.bc.ca

Abstract The Royal British Columbia Museum (RBCM) has a large and valuable collection of archival records, artifacts, specimens and associated information pertaining to the Province of British Columbia’s human and natural history. In 2004 and again in 2010 the RBCM conducted a comprehensive risk assessment to identify and quantify the potential impact of threats to the collections. Methodology was based on the Cultural Property Risk Assessment Model (CPRAM).

The RBCM risk assessment projects, which included over 30 staff members, were each completed over a period of several months. The results of the latest comprehensive review provide a corporate-wide perspective of the risks to the collection. Some risk related assumptions were confirmed and new issues came to light. As a result of these risk assessments, a Risk Management Implementation Plan has been developed to address the most damaging and imminent threats to the collections. A discussion of the evolution of risk assessment at the RBCM is included.

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A Step Further in the History of Protection of Romanian Heritage

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Andrea Bernath

Ph.D. Student at Faculty of Social and Human Sciences, Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu, Romania and Conservator at ASTRA National Museum Complex, Sibiu, Romania, www.muzeulastra.ro email: andrea.bernath@muzeulastra.ro and andreabernathgabriela@yahoo.com

Abstract Museums in Romania have cared for their cultural property for a long time. In recent years, however, conservation and protection of heritage has made major step changes and is following new directions. In this context, focus is shifting from restoration of objects to preventive conservation of collections. This is an important concept change in our country which has previously considered mostly treating individual objects as the first option for improving preservation of heritage.

In this regard, two important events brought to Romania were the International ICCROM Course Reducing Risk to Collections, as well as the Directions in Preventive Conservation international conference, both held in 2007 at ASTRA Museum in Sibiu. At the national level, they were meant to introduce the most recent knowledge in this field and to create a starting point for specialists to adopt or adapt new ideologies and strategies in their museums.

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Risk Assessment and Treatment for the Permanent Exhibition of the National Archaeological Museum in Bulgaria

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Sevdalina Neykova

Laboratory for Analysis, Conservation and Restoration, National Institute of Archaeology with Museum, Saborna 2, Sofia 1000, Bulgaria; email: sevdalinaneikova@abv.bg

Abstract The collections of the National Archaeological Museum in Bulgaria are among the richest in the Balkans. The museum is placed inside the oldest building of its kind in Sofia—the 15th century Buyuk Mosque (The Grand Mosque). Its permanent exhibition consists of approximately 4000 objects of different materials—stone, ceramics, metals, mosaics, frescoes, icons, glass, parchment, paleontological materials, flints, ivory, bone and leather. An assessment of risks related to ten agents of deterioration and influencing both the permanent exhibition and the building was completed in 2009–2010. Risk treatments to reduce those risks were developed.

This method of museum risk assessment was applied for first time in Bulgaria. Because preventive conservation has never been a priority in the National Archaeological Museum, and in Bulgaria in general, many risks were identified as currently affecting the exhibited objects or as having had a negative influence in the past. When the assessment started, many problems were already visible but it wasn’t clear which risks affected the collection and building most. The main purposes of the assessment were determining which risks have higher magnitude, therefore greatest expected effect, as well as pointing attention to collections on display.

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Risk Analysis in a Portuguese Archive: What Has Changed in Five Years?

ePub

A. C. Pinheiro

Departamento de Conservação e Restauro da Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia da Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Quinta da Torre, 2829-516 Caparica, Portugal, email: catmarpin@gmail.com

L. Moura

Instituto de Investigação Científica Tropical, Rua da Junqueira, n.° 86 - 1°, 1300-344 Lisboa

S. Sequeira

Departamento de Conservação e Restauro da Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia da Universidade Nova de Lisboa and Instituto de Investigação Científica Tropical, Rua da Junqueira

C. Viegas and S. Viegas

Escola Superior de Tecnologia da Saúde de Lisboa, Instituto Politécnico de Lisboa, Av. D.João II 1990-096 Lisboa, Portugal

M. F. Macedo

Vicarte, Departamento de Conservação e Restauro da Faculdade Ciências e Tecnologia da Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Quinta da Torre, 2829-516 Caparica, Portugal

Abstract The Cultural Property Risk Analysis Model was applied in 2006 to a Portuguese archive located in Lisbon. Its results highlighted the need for the institution to take care of risks related to fire, physical forces and relative humidity problems. Five years after this first analysis the results are revisited and a few changes are introduced due to recent events: fire and high humidity remain an important hazard but are now accompanied by a pressing contaminants problem. Improvements in storage systems were responsible for a large decrease in terms of calculated risk magnitude and proved to be very cost-effective.

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Collections Risk Assessment at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science

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Jude Southward

Heather Thorwald

Denver Museum of Nature & Science, Denver, CO, USA; jude.southward@dmns.org; heather.thorwald@dmns.org

Garnet Muething

Robert Waller

Protect Heritage Corp. Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; gm@protectheritage.com; rw@protectheritage.com

Abstract The Denver Museum of Nature & Science’s (DMNS) risk assessment evaluated hazards to collections in storage using the Cultural Property Risk Analysis Model (CPRAM; Waller 2003a) to structure a comprehensive assessment and calculate magnitude of risk. Magnitude of risk (MR) is the fraction of collection value expected to be lost given one hundred years exposure to current conditions. The MR is the simple product of four variables (Fraction Susceptible [FS], Loss in Value [LV], Probability [P], and Extent [E]) that are multiplied as follows: MR = FS × LV × P × E. This paper describes the process as implemented at the DMNS and the resultant collections preservation strategies (Southward and Thorwald 2010). The implementation of these strategies are significantly improving DMNS collections stewardship and is an essential step in a larger preservation process (new storage facility) that results in safe and more accessible storage of the 1.4 million objects the Museum holds in public trust.

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Risk Level Assessment of the Seaside Architecture of Oeiras, Portugal

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Alexandra de Carvalho Antunes

GeoBioTec/Aveiro University, Portugal; IHA/University of Lisbon, Portugal, email: apc.antunes@clix.pt

Abstract The Seaside Architecture Inventory of Oeiras includes fifty single-family houses, built for sea vacation, between 1860 and 1925, in the territory of the current Oeiras’ municipality and still existent. This study involves, in a multidisciplinary approach, the systematization and the description of the buildings and also the assessment of its risk level. The research was constituted through field work, supported by documentary and bibliographical research. This paper presents the method used to the assessment of this buildings’ physical risk.

During the nineteenth century, the seaside became popular for therapy, and later for leisure. This led to the construction of holiday seaside houses, normally in an eclectic style. The primitive researches on the theme of seaside architecture were developed in France, in the early 1980’s, using the expression architecture de villégiature (Mignot 2004). Since then, other research projects were developed, in some cases promoted by the French Culture Ministry (Rouillard, Toulier 1993, and Toulier 1998).

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Creative Conservation Risk Management Evolving a Collection Risk Management Strategy at a Major Heritage Attraction

ePub

Kate Frame

ACR, Head of Conservation and Collection Care, Historic Royal Palaces, Hampton Court Palace, Surrey, KT89AU, UK; email: kate.frame@hrp.org.uk

Abstract This paper describes the development of a collection risk management strategy within Historic Royal Palaces, which is a thriving commercially-based visitor attraction. The approach is two pronged. It first comprises a steering body, the ‘Agents of Decay’ Board, for strategic direction and collaborative decision making for risk mitigation measures that are supported and implemented. Second, at operational level, it offers a team approach between conservators and commercial staff to achieve conservation risk management goals whilst delivering a financial and client or visitor successful business. Collection risk management is woven into the activities of the palaces enabling the Historic Royal Palace business to be successful, which in turn leads to the generation of more funds for conservation.

This paper focuses on the way conservators have evolved their approach to managing collection risks at the Historic Royal Palaces (HRP), where it has moved from having a peripheral role within the palaces to a central position standing equal with other HRP business risk management strategies. We have reshaped our conservation approach, creating a flexible case-by-case solution to managing conservation risks that works with the changed circumstances at HRP and the changing expectations of our visitors.

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A Tale of Two Systems Synergy in Managing Risks to People and to Collections

ePub

Catharine Hawks

National Museum of Natural History, MRC 106, RO. Box 37012, Washington, DC 20013-7012; email: hawksc@si.edu

Robert Waller

Protect Heritage Corp. 622 Simoneau Way, Ottawa ON K4A1P4 Canada; email: rw@protectheritage.com

Abstract The two systems of managing health and safety and of managing preservation of cultural property have many parallels. Either, or both, can exist as predominantly habit-based systems. However, when managed from a proactive perspective, they can be considered goal-directed systems. In the first case, the goal is to maintain health and avoid accidents to people. In the second case, the goal is to avoid damage and loss to cultural property. Both goals are clear, widely accepted, and even inarguably noble and worthy, a great advantage for both systems.

Health and safety and cultural property preservation systems will operate best when they are mutually supportive. As a simple example, wearing appropriate gloves while handling objects protects the wearer as well as the collection object/specimen from contamination. Some examples of conflicts between the two risk management systems can also be found. For instance, an old collection of pharmaceuticals can pose many risks. From a health and safety perspective, disposal seems the obvious solution. From a curatorial perspective, keeping contents intact for future analysis may be important. The exercise of developing a creative solution that protects both people and collections can lead to improved understanding among all parties.

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The “Collections Risk Management” Program at the American Museum of Natural History

ePub

Lisa Kronthal Elkin

Chief Registrar and Director of Conservation, American Museum of Natural History, New York, NY; email: lelkin@amnh.org

Elizabeth Nunan

Associate Conservator, American Museum of Natural History, New York, NY; phone: 212-313-7532, email: enunan@amnh.org

Dieter Fenkart-Froeschl

Senior Director, Budget & Administrative Planning, American Museum of Natural History, New York, NY email: dfenkart-froeschl@amnh.org

Abstract In addition to the wear and tear of time and exposure that normally endanger museum collections, larger scale events such as September 11, 2001, the Northeast Blackout of 2003, Hurricanes Katrina and Irene and the Virginia Earthquake of 2011 have emphasized the threats to collections and underscored the importance of a comprehensive approach to risk planning. In response, the American Museum of Natural History has been steadfastly committed to identifying a complete picture of its collections priorities, and is accomplishing an overall risk assessment of its research, exhibit and library/archive collections. The assessment model used for this three-phase project is based on the Cultural Property Risk Analysis Model (CPRAM) developed by Robert Waller and colleagues at the Canadian Museum of Nature and adapted to accommodate the specific needs of a large, complex institution. These assessments have provided AMNH administrators with information crucial to making long-term strategy and policy decisions about reducing and mitigating risks to collections.

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