Two teams of FAIC’s National Heritage Responders are wrapping up a week of work in Puerto Rico. This is the second wave of team members to visit collections on the island affected by Hurricane Maria.
Mold growth continued to be the primary issue facing most of the institutions visited. With such lengthy power outages, many collections faced exposure to extremely high temperatures and relative humidity. Even as power is restored for some institutions, assessing any incursions of mold remained a priority task. Team members continued to stress the importance of personal protective equipment for staff members working with collections, providing guidance on how to safely address the mold.
While site visits made up the bulk of the work completed by the teams, one group held a workshop for local artists and institutions on salvaging works. The Museo de las Américas, a museum in San Juan visited by the first deployment team in late November, graciously offered their space to host the workshop. Over thirty individuals attended to learn about how to handle their affected objects.
FAIC will continue to work with affected collections and provide resources. You can learn more about our emergency programs here http://bit.ly/2okwlX1 and see previous updates on recent emergencies here http://bit.ly/2AErjb5. Stay tuned for more information about this group’s deployment and the team members who participated!
During what has been one of the worst hurricane seasons on record, FAIC’s Emergency Programs have been working fervently to connect people to planning and response resources. Through collaboration with our partners on the Heritage Emergency National Task Force, (HENTF) we have been working to gather information about affected institutions and provide support as needed.
In Florida, following Irma, National Heritage Responders visited several affected sites to help assess damage and set up cleaning protocols. Museums from Orlando to Miami received in-person assistance, and many more throughout the region were given advice via the NHR hotline (202.661.8068) and email (email@example.com).
A new outreach project has been developed in collaboration with HENTF in order to make contact with all collecting institutions that may have been affected by recent storms. FAIC worked with partners in Texas and Florida to develop lists of regional institutions. Students at the University of Texas’s iSchool created tools to conduct a calling project with the Texas sites; the model has been adopted by students at the University of Florida who are in the process now of reaching out to Florida sites. The primary goal of this outreach effort is to connect those who suffered damage with the National Heritage Responders if salvage information is needed, and with FEMA if information on the Public Assistance process is needed.
Response to Hurricane Maria in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico has been slow-going but progress is being made. The level of damage in the region has meant that life and safety issues have remained the priority far into the recovery process. FAIC is started to gather information about the institutions in need, and is once again closely collaborating with HENTF and our Federal partners to ensure an effective response. We will notify members about opportunities to support these efforts.
Finally, we recognize that hurricanes are not the only natural disasters wreaking havoc on our shared cultural heritage. The wildfires in Northern California have brought devastation to the region, and can impact not only those in the path of the flames, but those who may suffer from smoke and soot damage. FAIC is working closely with California partners to assess the situation, and the National Heritage Responders are developing lists of resources on smoke and soot damage to help with the recovery process.
The natural disasters that our nation has faced in the past several weeks serve as a reminder of the importance of preparedness – in our institutions, in our private practices, and in our homes.
In response to the recent New York Times article by Paul Sullivan, Protecting Andy Warhol From Flood, Fire and Quake, published online September 15, 2017, the AIC board of directors (through Treasurer Sarah Barack) has submitted a letter to the editor of the Times. The letter is printed in full below.
To the Editor,
The recent article, Protecting Andy Warhol from Flood, Fire and Quake, was commendable in that it brought to the forefront the need to protect art collections when disasters are looming. As the professional association for art conservators in North America, the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC) has long been concerned with mitigating such damage, and aiding those museums, institutions and collectors whose collections have thus been impacted. AIC has resources available on its website (https://www.conservation-us.org/resources/disaster-response-recovery) for the general public, and also provides a Find a Conservator digital database, which allows any individual looking for professional conservation advice to be matched with an appropriate, professional conservator. Further, AIC is able to activate a nation-wide network of conservators trained to respond to emergencies following such events.
As we all know, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure— however this benefit requires proper prevention which can be provided by trained art conservators. Should these measures prove insufficient, prompt conservation attention can help offset complete property loss.
Treasurer of the Board,
American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works
FAIC’s Emergency Programs have been working in high gear to gather information about damage from Hurricane Harvey. Our National Heritage Responders have been fielding calls on their hotline (202.661.8068) and directing resources as appropriate. Steve Pine, an NHR team member and leader of the TX-CERA Alliance for Response group, has been conducting assessments of Houston-area institutions that sustained damage. Today the first team of responders is arriving to assist with the stabilization of a mold-damaged mural and the flooded collection of props at a prominent local theater.
Many thanks to the Houston-area AIC members who have volunteered their homes for team members to stay in during future NHR deployments. We will keep the membership informed about additional opportunities to assist with recovery efforts.
Today, on a call organized by the Heritage Emergency National Task Force, FAIC shared updates on damage reports and our plans for action. We look forward to future collaborative efforts with our fellow task force members and representatives from Texas state agencies.
The next hurricane, Irma, is almost upon Florida. Our thoughts are with our members in Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas as they finalize preparations for this historic storm. We will plan to continue to update this blog with information about our response to Irma as well.
The storm system from Harvey has finally moved out of southeast Texas and Louisiana, leaving behind catastrophic flooding. Recovery will take some time in the region, as many individuals are displaced from their homes.
We are just starting to receive some initial reports of affected cultural institutions. A conference call held today, 9/1, shared information between federal and state partners, developing a strategy for future outreach to the 500+ institutions in the region.
Several media outlets have covered the cultural community’s efforts to prepare for and assess damage from Harvey:
We will continue to share information about potential deployments of our National Heritage Responders and other ongoing AIC/FAIC response efforts.
Please encourage local institutions to contact the NHR hotline at 202.661.8068.
As we learn more about Harvey’s impact on the cultural institutions in southeast Texas, we will share updates on conditions and our plans for response.
Until we have information to share, please consider referring to these sites for updated posts:
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Hurricane Center: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/graphics_at4.shtml?cone#contents
New York Time’s Harvey Live Updates: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/29/us/hurricane-harvey-storm-flooding.html?mcubz=1
ArtNews Updates on Texas Art Museums: http://www.artnews.com/2017/08/27/as-harvey-hits-texas-museums-shutter-082717/
REMINDER: please encourage all local contacts to spread the word about our National Heritage Responders and their free 24/7 hotline for impacted institutions at 202.661.8068.