44th Annual Meeting: General Session: GO – Emergency Response, Monday 16 May 2016, "Building a Foundation for Cultural Recovery, Resilience and Future Conservation Efforts in Haiti after the 2010 Earthquake" by Stephanie Hornbeck and Olsen Jean Julien

In the aftermath of the major earthquake that struck the Port-au-Prince region of Haiti in 2010, the Smithsonian Institutional Haiti Cultural Recovery Project was formed in partnership with the government of Haiti. The partnership was established to assist local professionals in the recovery of their cultural heritage. The 2010 earthquake was the most destructive event in Haiti’s history and resulted in the collapse of museums and historic structures.

Stephanie Hornbeck

The project was launched in 2010 and continues to be highly successful. The efforts began by defining a plan for the partnership, both within the Haitian government and the cultural sector. Funding, provided from both public and private donors including AIC, exceeded three million dollars and was used in finding a facility that would house the 100,000 objects endangered as well as hiring a staff that worked to rehouse, document, and treat this collection.
The Cultural Recovery Center staff included local and international conservators, 54 international conservators and collection managers, and local assistants including 13 full time students. Ideal volunteers came with an open-minded attitude and willingness to help wherever needed.
Conservation priorities were established for the endangered collection, which included West and Central African tradition, Historic Haitian Art, and Contemporary Haitian Art. Some of the artifacts recovered include broken panels and paintings, crumpled and torn paper, broken sculptures, and built heritage in total collapse. Conservation and preservation professionals faced numerous challenges including working in a tropical climate, lack of written and photographic inventories, and a general absence of basic collections care practices. The country has faced decades long problems with discontinuous electricity and many museums didn’t have covered windows. The presenters emphasized that their goal was not to establish priorities within the collection, but to aid in stabilizing and treating the collection items that locals deemed a priority. This commendable attitude proved to be quite difficult at times, as many museums did not have their collections prioritized prior to the earthquake.
Some of the conservation activities included assessing and improving facilities, providing guidance and support during the stabilization of damaged collections, training volunteers and staff to process and stabilize a high volume of damaged works, and treating a selection of culturally important and badly damaged works. The treatment stage included the stabilization of 35,000 works from 20 institutions.
The presenters gave reasons for why stages of the Haiti Cultural Recovery Project were successful or unsuccessful. Less successful situations arose when establishing an agreement with the National Bureau of Ethnology, negotiating with ISPAN for the construction of the conservation center on public property, and managing the transition from one government to another. In addition, the speakers stated that it was difficult to have the Haitian government to be proactive and take ownership of the project. Success was attributed to the core set of values shared between the six types of partners. When translated into the management of the situation, these principles lead to a mutually understanding, which ultimately lead to the success of the project.

44th Annual Meeting: Architecture and Objects Joint Session, Sunday 15 May 2016, "A Methodology for Documenting Preservation Issues Affecting Cultural Heritage in Syria and Iraq" by LeeAnn Barnes Gordon

Cultural Heritage Initiatives
Providing assistance in war-torn areas in Syria and Iraq is a complicated matter. The humanitarian crisis has resulted in protests in Syria against the government while a civil war led to the emergence of extremists groups, the most active threat being daesh (ISIS/ISIL). Collateral damage to the area has resulted in the militarization of archaeological sites and historic neighborhoods being obliterated. Organizations such as the ASOR Cultural Heritage Initiatives (CHI) are continually working on meeting the challenges of this cultural heritage crisis. Through diligent monitoring, CSI is able to assist the nations by documenting damage, promoting global awareness, and planning emergency and post-war responses.
LeaAnn Barnes Gordon gave an insightful presentation into the complications of providing international support to local residents and institutions. A highlight of Gordon’s presentation was showcasing CHI’s extensive digital mapping of over 7,800 cultural heritage sites. These maps help to assess the affects on cultural heritage by analyzing different types of damage as well as current and prospective threats. By utilizing satellite imagery, CHI can monitor changes over time in areas that have been damaged by military occupation or that have been illegally excavated. Information is compiled into reports using photographs and textual records of observations; some of these records are currently available online and others are being added regularly.
CHI is standardizing documents and terminology to avoid ambiguity during documentation (e.g. threats vs. disturbances). In the presentation, Gordon provided examples of types of documents utilized including field guide assessment forms, photo-documentation guides, and technical advice in Arabic to assist those currently living/working in Syria and Iraq. In addition, CHI is providing resources and funding for local institutions for efforts such as cleaning and removing debris and erecting temporary structures.
The presentation discussed ongoing CHI projects as well as general challenges faced when attempting to protect cultural heritage in conflict zones. Constant monitoring allows CHI to identify potential damages and share this information with conservation/preservation specialists in the area. These measures help prevent and decrease future damage to culturally rich sites and collections as well as helping to create standardized documents that can be used in other areas of conflict zones. CHI5
To learn more about CHI and the important work they are doing, please see:

44th Annual Meeting- Electronic Media Session- Recovering the Eyebeam Collection following Superstorm Sandy- by Karen Van Malssen

This presentation highlighted the risks to important collections that are located outside of traditional museum or library environments. Eyebeam, a non-profit multimedia art space was among the buildings inundated by flood waters in Manhattan’s West Chelsea neighborhood during Superstorm Sandy. Eyebeam is a collaborative workspace, rather than a museum with a “permanent collection,” but like many alternative arts spaces and contemporary art galleries with no “permanent collection,” Eyebeam maintains a collection of work created by former fellowship recipients (something that looks a lot like a permanent collection).
Just as many people in on the East Coast attempted to prepare for the storm, the art center’s staff had had underestimated the magnitude of Sandy’s storm surge, since the storm had been downgraded from the lowest level of hurricane strength on the Saffir-Simpson Scale. The staff members had worked diligently to raise equipment off of the floors and to cover furniture and equipment with plastic sheeting. Unfortunately, three feet of water flooded the interior of the building, causing the loss of 1,500 media items and $250,000 worth of equipment. The presenter showed a video demonstrating the extent of damage to the media archive, contaminated with foul, polluted, flood water. Recovery primarily involved rinsing in clean water, but recovery required more than just the treatment process.

The presenter provided a convenient, numbered list of lessons learned:
Lesson 1. Know Your Context: Assess known risks and anticipate the worst-case scenario. Eyebeam was located near the water, but the staff members had not anticipated catastrophic damage affecting the entire region.
Lesson 2. Maintain Contacts with Local Responders: Assembling a network of contacts in advance of the disaster will greatly improve response time; plan a well-designed scalable system for working with responders
Lesson 3. Train ALL Staff for Recovery: You never know who will be available in an emergency; Be prepared to break all procedures into simple steps for training. The two biggest risks during recovery were dissociation (separation of related parts or separation of labels and other identifying markings) and mishandling (outside expertise in video preservation may be scarce).
Lesson 4. Label Everything: This makes it possible to reunite parts that were separated during recovery.
Lesson 5. Make Hard Decisions in Advance: Maintain records of collection salvage priorities, so resources will not be wasted on low-value materials.
Lesson 6. Know What Roles You Will Need: Do not allow people to multi-task; each person needs a clearly defined scope of responsibility.
Lesson 7. Keep Critical Supplies on Hand: Regional disasters cause shortages of supplies that might be plentiful at retail under normal circumstances.
Lesson 8. Adrenaline Wears off: Schedule breaks from work, and assign someone to provide food, water, etc.
Lesson 9. Integrate Preparedness into Institutional Culture
Lesson 10. Strive to Avoid Negative Press: Many anonymous critics on social media complained that Eyebeam should not have maintained an archive of analog videos or hard copies of digital content, that all of the content should have been duplicated on some cloud server not affected by the storm.
Since the disaster recovery, Eyebeam has relocated to Brooklyn.

44th Annual Meeting & 42nd Annual Conference—General Session, 15 May 2016: "Visions of Disaster: Bringing the Blur into Focus," by Polly Christie and Sarah MacKinnon

Polly Christie and Sarah MacKinnon took us through the history of the 2014 Glasgow School of Art fire, beginning with how the building’s construction directly affected the scope of the disaster, taking us through the extent of the damage, and detailing the ongoing rescue process. Each component of this complex recovery project intersects with the others, demonstrating the interconnected nature of cultural heritage properties and the collections residing within.
Designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh and built in phases, the Glasgow School of Art building is widely considered Mackintosh’s masterpiece, and is an early example of both total architecture and industrial design. The first phase, completed in 1899, saw the completion of the east wing, while the second phase, modified from the original plan, included the west wing and additions to the east wing, and showcases Mackintosh’s work at the height of his powers. The library tower, located in the west wing, borrows elements from Japanese architecture and was built to best accommodate the needs of the school. In addition, Mackintosh’s work includes an early air conditioning system of branched ventilation ducts running in straight lines through the entirety of the building.
These ventilation ducts, while certainly appreciated by the building’s occupants, were critically involved in the 2014 disaster. The blaze began in a basement studio and spread quickly throughout the building via the ducts, reaching the library tower and raging through the collections stored both in the stacks and in storage above the main library space. These collections were irreplaceable, including school archives, art created by alumni, historic furniture, and 11,000 special collections volumes.
The fire required 11 teams of firefighters and 24 hours to fight. Once the danger had passed, the mass of destroyed building and collections in the library tower was “excavated” or sorted through in one-meter-square areas, leading to the salvage of 81 volumes as well as important information about the underlying structure that would be used in the reconstruction effort. Triage systems and decision trees were established for sorting through the wreckage and recovering collections items.
A few collections merited particular mention in light of the recovery efforts. A large textile collection held in storage survived, but the packaging was destroyed; this was not covered by insurance claims, as the staff learned, and the collection is currently inaccessible while a new housing is designed and made. The school also has a substantial collection of plaster casts of famous sculpture, including three copies of the Venus de Milo. Insurance funds were diverted to treatment of certain casts, leaving the remainder to the care of volunteers, and one of the burnt Venuses was deemed not worth the effort. However, the blackened cast has captured the media’s imagination and public support for its treatment is high. In addition, the library was furnished with brass light fixtures, which became an intersection of the building fabric and the collections; many were dissociated in the disaster, and salvaged pieces will be reunited when possible. The school archives provided the original sketches of the lamps’ design and construction, and these will be used to restore the lights to functionality.
Lessons learned? Perhaps one of the biggest takeaways is that archival collections and other records can be valuable resources in recovering from a disaster. The better the records of a heritage building and its collections, the better the disaster response will be. Knowing the extent of one’s insurance cover is also important, as the Glasgow School of Art learned with regard to the textile collections. And as Christie and MacKinnon demonstrated with their remarks, in cultural heritage disaster response, everything is connected—from the fabric of the building to the collections housed within. In the end, Christie and MacKinnon advised attendees that choices made in disaster response will always be limited by the circumstances of the disaster; the best decisions to make are the best decisions you can make.

44th Annual Meeting – Saving and Preserving Family and Local History from Natural Disasters: Addressing Challenges from the Recent Earthquakes in Japan

This panel, presenting on the response to the tsunami in Japan in 2011, was composed of Masashi Amano, Kazuko Hioki, Tomoko Yasuda Ishimaru and Daishi Yoshihara. Drs. Amano and Yoshihara are both historians, and Ms. Yasuda is a conservator in private practice in Tokyo. Ms. Hioki is a conservator in the United States, and special thanks goes to her for her excellent translation during the question and answer sessions.
The presentations brought to light a number of interesting cultural differences that may be surprising to an audience from North America. The majority of public records (according to Dr. Yoshihara, the number may be as much as 90%) are held privately, rather than my public or governmental institution. This means that when a disaster occurs, it is often difficult to find out who is a stakeholder, what records are involved, or even where those records are. Often, historic sites contain records, but just as often records, historical and modern, can be found in attics and in community centers. This would include tax information, birth and death records and legal documents.
The prevalence of natural disasters in Japan makes creates another important difference.it It si very difficult for insurance companies, a very conservative business in Japan, to provide coverage in the event of a natural disaster. This means that public institutions and private collections cannot rely on the insurance industry to pay for recovery companies, and as a result, recovery companies have a much reduced presence in Japan. The end result is that, when natural disasters occur, Japanese individuals and institutions cannot rely on the same emergency response structure that we in North America.
The presenters spoke about their work helping disaster recovery after the 2011 tsunami, but much of their presentations focused on Shiryo-net (the Miyagi chapter which responded to the tsunami has an english language blog). Shiryo-net is a grassroots organization of historians and volunteers who respond to disasters specifically to deal with conservation issues, such as finding out where in a town records may be kept, rescuing those records, and performing triage treatment whenever possible. Shiryo-net formed after the Hanshin-Awaji earthquake in 1995, and has grown to 24 regional chapters across Japan.
Since its inception, Shiryo-net has focused on saving those 90% of documents that are not in museums, libraries and archives. Its activities are entirely funded by membership dues and donations. The organization first came into contact with conservation on a more formal basis in the wake of a flood in Hyogo prefecture in 2004. During this disaster, they were able to work with conservators to develop first aid treatments that could be taught easily to volunteers, and the difficulties they encountered encouraged them to host workshops and become a center of volunteer training for conservation volunteers. When another flood occurred in Hyogo in 2009, the response was much quicker, and the level of care given to documents was much better. Shiryo-net is now an experienced organization, and focuses on leadership training and volunteer education as well as disaster response.
The second major focus of the talks given by the presenters was on Shiryo-net’s response to the 2011 earthquake and Tsunami. The obvious difficulties of working in a disaster area were present, as were the difficulties of working with a large, non-professional force. Over the course of the recovery, Shiryo-net worked with over 5,000 volunteers, and had to develop techniques for training, supplying and managing such a large and ever-changing population. Because of the scale and scope of the disaster, salvage operations were ongoing as much as three years after the disaster. Since the tsunami, Shiryo-net has rescued more 70,000 items, with at least 50,00 items still in storage waiting to be treated.
The presentation was informative and engaging. It was interesting to hear about the different challenges faced in a different country, and how those challenges have been met or overcome. I would like to thank the presenters again for being so forthcoming with their talk materials as I prepared this post.

44th Annual Meeting – Emergency Session, May 17, 2016, “Emergency Preservation during Armed Conflict: Protecting the Ma’arra Museum in Syria” by Brian Daniels and Corine Wegener

I wanted to attend this presentation because I couldn’t imagine what type of emergency response would be possible in a situation as horrific as the one in Syria.  When your life is in danger or there isn’t enough to eat, how can you think about saving artifacts or cultural sites?  What I learned from Brian Daniels’ talk was inspiring and thought-provoking.
Brian Daniels is the director of Research and Programs at the Penn Cultural Heritage Center of the University of Pennsylvania Museum. A primary focus of the Center is community archaeology, an archaeological practice dedicated to engaging local communities in the preservation of cultural heritage.  Could some of the practices of community archaeology be usefully carried over to a conflict zone?  How could a response to safeguarding Syrian heritage be local, empowering, and post-colonial? How could Syrian cultural heritage professionals be involved?
This thinking led to the creation of the SHOSI (Safeguarding the Heritage of Syrian Initiative) project where outside experts and Syrian professionals worked together to determine what might be saved and how it could be done.  Daniels gave three examples of the work undertaken by the team.
The first was at the Ma’aara Museum where there were numerous large Roman and early Christian mosaics installed into the fabric of the building.  Based on protocols developed to protect Leonardo’s Last Supper during World War II, the Syrian team faced the mosaics with a water based adhesive and fabrics readily available at Turkey’s equivalent of Home Depot.  Sandbags were placed in front of wall-mounted mosaics or on top of floor mounted ones.  The non-Syrian experts helped procure the necessary supplies.  The museum was bombed on two separate occasions, but the mosaics survived.
The second example was the intervention at the bronze-age site of Ebla known for a major find of cuneiform tablets in the 1960s.  Satellite images showed changes in the excavated structures, suggesting disturbance to the site as a result of looting.  The Syrian team confirmed that the mud brick buildings had been tunneled into.  They used concrete blocks and a mud mortar to help shore up the walls, and as a result the damaged walls did not collapse in the winter rains.
The last example was not a success story.  The 5th-century Church of St. Simeon Stylites is part of an important early Byzantine complex.  Armed groups were operating near the church and looters were digging in the complex for mosaics.  As the team was trying to decide what to do, the area was bombed and the church was damaged.
I am not an archaeological conservator, and one of the powerful aspects of the presentation was seeing images of these incredible Syrian sites.  And the extreme risks that Syrian heritage professionals were taking seemed much more real when you saw that their faces had to be blurred out in the presentation.
As with many talks at this meeting, Daniels and Wegener have been thinking about how our profession can be inclusive, responsive, and involved in the pressing problems of the 21st century.

44th Annual Meeting – General Session, May 15, “When disaster mitigation is a priority: Evidence from risk analysis of rare events” by Irene Karsten and Stefan Michalski

In this talk, Irene Karsten presented a method that CCI has established to quantitatively evaluate risk assessment for an institution. CCI has been using this method, called the ABC method, to conduct risk assessment for heritage institutions. The probability of a certain incident is estimated by answering the following questions:

  1. How often will the event occur?
  2. How much value will be lost?
  3. How much of the heritage asset will be affected?

A score of 5 points is generated for A, B, and C, for a total magnitude risk out of 15 points. A total of 5 points or lower is considered negligible risk and 15 points is catastrophic and unacceptable.

Score Risk Loss to collection
5 or lower Negligible  
9 or lower Medium to negligible Damage takes millennia. May agree that level of care is adequate and improvements possible but wait till higher risks are reduced.
10-11 Medium – high Maybe negotiable. Standard of care may be okay but improvements highly recommended
12-13 High Lost in 100 years, may be unacceptable
15 Catastrophic Unacceptable. All value lost in decades. Such risks are rare.

In this talk, Karsten is paying particularly attention to level 10-13 risks. Also, this is a logarithmic scale, which allows the authors to graph a lot of risks on each graph and compare them easily. Karsten went through a number of examples, including two historic houses, art gallery, provincial archives, and science and technology museum, highlighting the various risks and how they were evaluated. For all five institutions, disaster risks in high or extreme categories were fire. CCI did not just assess the risks, but also looked at mitigation of risk. For fire, CCI recommends an automatic fire suppression system. This does not eliminate fire risk but substantially reduces the risk of spread. In terms of cost-effectiveness, options that reduce large risks tend to have a better cost-effectiveness, too. When assessing if your collection is at a serious risk of loss, it has to impact storage.
Karsten then went through five types of weather disasters and explained how an institution would be assessed to be at an extreme or high risk for that threat.
For a flood, an institution is at extreme risk if storage is below flood grade or even below grade near the old water main or faulty storm sewers. An institution is at high risk if it is on grade on a flood plain or below grade.
For a fire, an institution is at extreme or high risk if it is a combustible building structure, there is lack of compartmentation, the region is at risk of wild fire, or there is a lack of automatic fire suppression. 1 in 5 fires is expected to spread to the whole structure.
For an earthquake, an institution is at extreme risk if the building is lacking seismic protection and there is a risk of violent earthquakes (7 or higher on the Richter scale). An institution is at high risk if storage is lacking seismic protection and there is a risk of very strong to violent earthquakes (6.5 or higher on the Richter scale).
For a tornado, an extreme risk is EF4 or EF5 tornados in US and high risk of EF4-5 in Canada, depending on the frequency of tornados in the area.
For a hurricane, an extreme risk is if the building is in a region at risk of major hurricanes (category 3-5) and the building is not designed to resist high winds. In Canada, only category 2 hurricanes really occur, and the damage is rarely extensive to be high or extreme risk.

44th Annual Meeting-General Session: Emergency Preparedness, May 16th, "Through Hell or High Water: Disaster Recovery Three Years after Alberta's Floods," by Emily Turgeon-Brunet and Amanda Oliver

In June 2013 the province of Alberta in Canada experienced a flood that affected over 25% of its area. A state of emergency was declared and over 100,000 Albertans were evacuated. The flood caused around $6 million in damage to artifacts and buildings.
Talk presenters Emily Turgeon-Brunet and Amanda Oliver, were tasked with helping archival institutions throughout the province with recovery and future disaster planning and preparedness nearly two years after the flood occurred. There were many things to deal with including mud, water damage, mold, frozen items, and things that were improperly packed prior to freezing.
Funding from the Government of Alberta allowed the dynamic duo to assess damage and help institutions throughout Alberta with recovery from the flood and to prepare for future disasters. This included site assessments, education, writing disaster plans, performing conservation treatment, and purchasing supplies like water detection systems, frost free freezers, boxes, shelves, and disaster response supplies. Full reports were made with work plans so the institutions could meet their current and future needs and goals. They were able to hire contractors, conservators, and archivists to help with recovery and treatment.
Emily and Amanda were not only out in the field visiting institutions and helping any way they could in person, but they were also working on the home front on multiple forms of outreach. This team is currently developing a loan program where supplies like books, wet/dry HEPA vacuums, and digitization equipment will soon be made available for institutions to use on a temporary basis. They are developing an app to connect archivists across Alberta with emergency contacts and recovery specialists, as well as to put archivists in contact with one another to assist with disaster remediation.
They also have a strong presence on the web. Emily and Amanda developed and performed in a series of six how-to disaster recovery videos! They are very clear, informative, and fun! I highly recommend everyone check those out! The disaster recovery how-to videos can be found here: http://archivesalberta.org/programs-and-services/flood-assistance/how-to-videos/  After you watch the how-to videos there is a lot more to see on the Alberta Flood Advisory Programme website that they developed which can be found here: http://archivesalberta.org/programs-and-services/flood-assistance/

44th Annual Meeting – General Session: Lead by Example, Models to Follow, Track E, May 16, “PRICE: Preparedness and Response in Collections Emergencies,” by Sarah Stauderman

The Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC has long dealt with collection emergencies. One of the first major disasters in their history was a construction fire that broke out on January 24, 1865 in the Smithsonian Institution Building, lovingly known as the Castle. This fire started between the ceiling and the roof of the main hall when workmen accidentally inserted a stove pipe into the brick lining of the building, instead of into a flue. In another unfortunate twist of fate, Secretary Joseph Henry (1797-1878) had established a winter-time fuel conservation program throughout the building, causing the water-filled fire buckets located in the hallways to freeze in the frigid temperatures. The library and many early collections, including the papers of James Smithson, were largely destroyed.

Fire in Smithsonian Institution Building, by Gardner, Alexander 1821-1882, January 24, 1865, Smithsonian Archives – History Div, 37082 or MAH-37082.

Now, one hundred and fifty years later, colleagues at the Smithsonian Institution have come together to discuss the roles they play in the prevention, preparation, and response to collections-related emergencies. While the Smithsonian currently maintains a robust disaster management program, it focuses primarily on human safety, which no one would argue comes first in any emergency. However, recognizing the need for planning for collections, staff has recently developed a concept for the Institution called PRICE, or Preparation and Response In Collections Emergencies.
The Smithsonian Institution policy on emergencies is encoded in Directives. Two directives that pertain to stewardship for collections in emergencies are: Smithsonian Directive (SD) 109 and SD 600. SD 109 sets requirements at both an institutional- and unit-level for emergency management pans. SD 600 establishes policies and standards for all aspects of collections management, which includes emergency management.
Two recent and notable emergencies sparked this reevaluation of collections emergency preparedness – the collapse of the Garber Facility in 2010 due to the weight of snow on the roof, and an earthquake in the DC region in 2011. Several areas for improvement were identified from these events:

  • Training for all staff. There is a need to effectively inform staff about proper lifesaving responses to specific emergencies (such as earthquakes), the Incident Command System, and procedures for access to affected facilities.
  • Training for collection emergency response staff. There is a need for training on safety, related to collection-based hazards, post-damage assessment methods, and salvage techniques for specific media types.
  • Quality control during installation and inspection of storage furniture.
  • Design of storage housing and exhibit mounts to minimize damage in the event of a future seismic event.
  • Collections spaces to tolerate risks, such as and earthquake or flood.

In the context of these recent emergencies, the Smithsonian has been approaching preventive conservation initiatives pan-institutionally. For example:

  • “Strengthening collections” is listed as part of the Institution’s strategic plan, as is broadening access
  • Through the National Collections Program (NCP), there are four leadership groups currently addressing collections stewardship: Collections Advisory Committee, Collections Space Committee, Digitization Program Office (DPO), and several media-specific initiatives.
  • The Collections Emergency Working Group, which formulated the PRICE initiative, brought together collections managers, conservators, physical security specialists, NCP staff, and facilities professionals.

The Collections Emergency Working Group recommended that in the event an emergency involves collections, the Emergency Operation Center and National Collections Program will have the PRICE team of collections responders to assist and activate response and recovery. Since the Smithsonian uses the Incident Command System (ICS) for emergencies, the PRICE team would fit seamlessly into its structure as one of the reporting groups to the incident commander. For more information about ICS in libraries, archives, and museums, check out David Carmichael’s book on the topic.
The PRICE committee structure will be that of six members and a chair. (Samantha Snell joined the NCP in March 2016 as the PRICE chair.) The team will follow the emergency life-cycle of preparedness, response, and recovery, and consists of three concentrations that must be addressed throughout an emergency – policy and procedures, training, and logistics.

PRICE Structure, Powerpoint, S. Stauderman.
PRICE Structure, Powerpoint, S. Stauderman.

Just remember that the PRICE initiative does NOT replace or duplicate emergency command centers (ECCs) or replace unit plans. However, it DOES enable ECCs, synthesize planning efforts, develop capacity, foster Smithsonian sharing, and take as models, the Alliance for Response and Cultural Recovery Center.
This concept is now in its initial implementation phase at the Smithsonian, so stay tuned for more exciting news about this initiative!

44th Annual Meeting – Photographic Materials Session, May 17, "Salvaging Memories: The Recovery of Fire-Damaged Photographs and Lessons Learned in Conservation and Kindness," by Debra Hess Norris

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but its  worth is immeasurable when all other possessions are lost. The efforts of  the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation can  be described, therefore, as invaluable. For the past two academic years, Debra Hess Norris and the faculty, staff, and the graduate students of the WUDPAC program have undertaken recovery projects for photographs damaged by fires and floods. In addition to the rigorous course load of the Photographic Materials block at WUDPAC the classes of 2017 and 2018 have added examination, documentation, and treatment of between 240 and 260 photographs, or  about 25-35 photographs per student.  Their goal was to help people and families who have just survived heartrending disaster.
On Christmas Day in 2014, Ricky and Traci Harris lost their three sons and Ricky’s mother to a devastating house fire. Searching for any way to lessen their grief, friend and WUDPAC PhD candidate, Michael Emmons, sent this image to Ms. Norris via text message:
Emmons & Photos
One of the firefighters had taken the time to collect the fire-damaged photographs and lay them out in the Harris’ garage. Mr. Emmons coordinated with Ms. Norris to have the 260 photographs brought to the Winterthur conservation labs where the first-year graduate students began examining them for treatment. Each individual photograph had a unique variety of damage. By working closely with Mr. Emmons as the Harris family liaison, the students were able to approach treatment with approval and context from the family. The emotional nature of the project was the biggest, but not only, struggle for those involved. Condition concerns ranged from minor planar distortions to an irreversible white haze to the bleeding of inks and dyes. After minimizing the smell of smoke by storing the photographs with zeolite and blotters, students focused on surface cleaning and flattening. The stabilized photographs were then housed in polyester sleeves with zeolite-containing papers to increase the ease of future scanning.
May 24th, 2015 a flash flood hit central Texas with waters reaching 33 feet high in a matter of hours. 30 lives were lost and over 1,000 homes were damaged. As with the Arno floods that formed the theme of AIC’s 2016 Annual Meeting, compassionate volunteers and first responders attempted to salvage photographs and other personal belongings. Local archivists were able to do much in the recovery of the photographs, but 240 of the most severely damaged were sent to Winterthur for their new graduate students. The types of photographs sent ranged from tintypes to digital prints, negatives to photo albums and all suffered severe damage ranging from flaking and delamination to inactive mold. Although there was a wider variation in materials than the fire-damaged photos from the previous year, the primary treatment concerns remained surface cleaning and flattening but also included consolidation, tear mending, and unblocking. Each student was also able to choose one photograph for loss compensation as both an educational exercise and an attempt to make the most severely damaged images more cohesive. In both projects, students progressed from dry to wet cleaning techniques as detailed below and routinely used microscopic examination to assess their progress and analyze different techniques.

dry cleaning technique wet cleaning technique

Left: Dry Surface Cleaning Techniques, Right: Wet Surface Cleaning Techniques

Different approaches were also needed for fiber-based supports vs. resin-coated supports, again detailed below:

approach for fiber based support approach for resin coated support

While the educational opportunities of these projects were immense, what I find truly remarkable is the way they inspired and reflected compassion and benevolence both inside and outside the field of conservation. The subject matter clearly resonates with many of us as there was not a dry eye by the end of Ms. Norris’ presentation and the Q&A section was filled with heartwarming remarks and suggestions for how to continue and spread these outreach efforts. Additionally, the public reactions to various press and social media resulted in an inundation of offers for volunteer work, especially for the Harris family. So I would like to end with Ms. Norris’ call to action, “As a profession we must seek ways to share our skills and knowledge broadly, to be a visible presence following unthinkable tragedy, and a known resource for families facing the potential loss of their treasured photographs.”
Debbie ackn
For details on D4 and its use in photograph conservation, Ms. Norris suggests Shannon Brogdon-Grantham’s abstract entitled “New Approaches to Cleaning Works on Paper and Photographic Materials” from the 2015 Biannual PMG Meeting.