On February 7, 2017 we (the Philadelphia Alliance for Response – AFR) held our first ever event in partnership with the Philadelphia Area Conservation Association (PACA).
With popcorn and hot chocolate to keep us warm on a winter’s night the crowd of about 60 people listened to a round of short presentations on the realities of museum emergencies. The tales of major leaks during the first days of starting a new job or arriving Monday morning to find books that had been soaking in water (from some unknown source) all weekend were scary, but each participant showed the steps used to respond to the emergency. About half a dozen people shared their stories and answered questions from the crowd. After the show and tell (a few presenters had pictures of their emergency and the resolution) the crowd sat back to watch the Zeffirelli film “Florence: Days of Destruction.”
The film documents the 1966 flood of Florence and the early stages of the recovery of the city’s many cultural treasures, including the magnificent buildings and churches in which they were held. The film was heartbreaking for a crowd of conservators and museum and archive professionals, who sat and watched the damage – in some cases irreversible – to so much art and history. But it was also heartening to see the international response and number of volunteers who traveled to Florence to pitch in during the recovery. Very few copies of the film exist, but we were lucky enough to be able to borrow a digitized version of it through the University Of Maryland Libraries.