Bitten by the bug: the Integrated Pest Management Working Group’s collaborative approach to providing IPM resources for the museum community

Rachael Perkins Arenstein, Neil Duncan, Lisa Elkin, Richard Monk, and Chris Norris


An effective integrated pest management program requires the involvement of staff throughout an institution, including conservators, collection managers, facilities staff, and administrators. These individuals all have important roles to play but due to other priorities they may not have the time necessary to fully implement and operate their integrated pest management program. This was the guiding principle behind the formation of the Integrated Pest Management Working Group, an ad hoc collaboration of conservators, collection managers, pest management professionals, and others from the United States and abroad.

This group does not teach integrated pest management, as participants are expected to already be familiar with general integrated pest management principles. Instead, the Integrated Pest Management Working Group focuses on providing resources to make it easier for the broader museum community to develop and implement their own integrated pest management programs. The goal of the Group is to promote and facilitate good integrated pest management practices and collaboration at the personal and institutional levels through the development and online distribution of training materials and other resources.

A brief history will be presented on the creation of the group, from a simple collaboration on a single computer program by two institutions, to a large group with over 60 members from the United States, Canada, and Europe, and an annual meeting that attracts 25-30 participants each year. This presentation will describe some of the initiatives being pursued by the group and available on the website, including the developing online resources for collections care personnel to use in identifying real or potential threats to their collections; assessing the need for integrated pest management databases; developing training resources, both printed and electronic, for museum staff with pest management responsibilities; and compiling best practices documents and information regarding various treatment methods.

Additionally, the paper will also examine the challenges created by the loose, ad hoc organizational structure, the distance between collaborators, and the lack of dedicated staff time in keeping such collaboration moving forward so that each institution need not “reinvent the wheel.”

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2008 | Denver | Volume 15