On March 29, AFR Philly partnered up with the Philadelphia Area Conservation Association to hold a forum for discussing approaches to institutional disaster planning hosted by the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Five presenters responded to an open call for talks from AFR Philly. About 30 attendees heard engaging and informative discussions on a range of topics related to disaster preparedness.
John Gardosick presented Hack the Mill: Developing Resiliencies for Historic Properties, reporting on the Mather Mill Design Workshop, part of the Disaster Planning for Historic Properties Initiative, which strove to obtain design proposals for the Mather Mill historic site that maintained its historic integrity, improved flood resilience, and were replicable and modular.
Samantha Snell told the group about PRICE (Preparedness and Response in Collections Emergencies), the pan-institutional body formed by the Smithsonian to support collecting units when disaster strikes. PRICE, which is divided into logistics, policy and procedures and training teams, was formed to help the Smithsonian better respond to large events. It is currently focused on collaboration and outreach.
Joy Gardiner and Beth Parker Miller discussed the Collections Emergency Plan developed and implemented by Winterthur following a flood in 1994. The CEP’s leadership committee is composed of staff from conservation, curatorial, library, registration and public safety. They regularly plan training, update the CEP and coordinate the response to specific threats. Winterthur has conducted over 45 drills with the entire CEP team since its formation. They have also deployed collection emergency supplies, personal CEP packs and CEP documentation kits.
Anisha Gupta presented ways to leverage a disaster in order to create buy-in with high level executives. She stressed the importance of finding an advocate in higher administration and using authoritative terms. In her experience with another institution, she found that talking about risk management, rather than emergency planning, and categorizing collections as assets helped when talking with executives.
Finally, Cindy Albertson related her experiences with AFR NYC, and that group’s experience creating a city-wide response team following Hurricane Sandy. She talked about the lessons the group has learned as they achieved non-profit status and tried to improve disaster response in New York. She also provided details about recent and upcoming programs organized and sponsored by AFR NYC.
Following the talks, attendees had the opportunity to tour the paper and paintings conservation labs at the PMA’s Perelman Building. Staff conservators talked briefly about their ongoing projects, before the group headed to Final Fridays at the PMA’s main building for happy hour.
The AFR Philly steering committee would like to thank everyone who helped make this event possible: the Philadelphia Museum of Art for hosting; Todd and Steve from the Museum’s AV team who set up the speakers’ PowerPoints; Allison McLaughlin, who led coordination and scheduling of the event; Terry Lignelli, Cindy Albertson, Kristin Patterson, Nancy Ash and Tom Primeau from the Museum’s Conservation staff who opened up their labs to event attendees and spoke about their ongoing projects; the Philadelphia Area Conservation Association for co-sponsoring; and, last but not least, all of the speakers who volunteered their time to talk about their experiences with disaster planning and emergency response. Thanks also to everyone who attended the event!
We are looking forward to seeing you at our next event, a free Continuity of Operations Planning workshop presented by the Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management. The event will be held on Friday, May 17 at the Philadelphia City Archives and will cover the following topics: how to identify local hazards; how to use OEM’s COOP toolkit; how to create an evacuation plan; and how to communicate your plan. Time and other details are TBD, but will be made available soon. We hope to see you there!