What does it mean for a cultural heritage institution to be prepared for an emergency? Where does one find the recourses to establish a plan? Who does this research and preparatory work?

At Winterthur, the Preventive Conservation staff handles recovery situations and teaches students preparedness techniques. Since each institution is unique, the emergency plan, sometimes referred to as the Conservation Emergency Plan or (CEP) needs to be tailored to the specific needs of the institution. A Conservation Assessment Plan (CAP) survey is one of the first steps in identifying an institutions risks both environmental (natural) and human-made. Some resources help museums/institutions establish what risks they face and who is best suited to deal with those risks. Conservation Assessment forms (fig. 1). Fig. 1. Conservation assessment form: pre-assessment questionnaire.

Some resources may be more targeted to a specific concern, like HVAC systems, or likelihood of an earthquake versus hurricane. Others may be step-by-step instructions to carry out moisture control or ventilation and light control.

One effective technique includes studying a building, collection, and surrounding climate, and defining zones:

  • Secure/public
  • Interior environments suited/not-suited to collections
  • Utilities and service areas
Natalya Swanson