Be prepared: not just a Boy Scout motto

It’s every museum’s nightmare: an errant spark from construction causes a fire; sprinklers unleash water on some of the most vulnerable objects in the collection.  Luckily this museum had an emergency response plan.  In the Dec. 26, 2014 Wall Street Journal article “After Fire, a Rush to Preserve History,” the conservators at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) faced this all too common nightmare and successfully and quickly responded.  Ironically, the damage occurred in the Hall of Northwest Coast Indians, the recent focus of a multi-year conservation project, described previously on this blog and also presented  at last year’s AIC annual conference.  The conservation department, led by Judith Levinson (pictured in the article), quickly removed the affected objects, catalogued them, and performed triage.  Levinson was also featured in a video by local news channel Pix 11.  This occurrence raises the question: does your museum have a emergency response plan?