Disaster Planning

Policies and procedures in case of emergency and recommendations for safe housing and display of objects

No disaster can be to big or to small. From large natural disasters to maybe a patron falling ill in the museum. A disaster or emergency plan is a document which states who is responsible on staff, floor plans of the buildings, location of important equipment, phone tree for contact information, organizations or individuals who can assist in case of an emergency and a detailed description of what to do in case of the many emergencies or disasters that can occur.  These can be flood, fire, hurricane, earthquake, explosion, riot or people who want to cause harm to collections, building or visitors to the museum.

When at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, after the 1989 earthquake, it was made clear that a plan that had been in place was not up-to-date and many staff members were not aware that one existed. Once the dust settled, responsibilities were written and a plan given to all staff members along with periodic drills. Security is a major factor in the emergency plan, but if the museum is small and cannot afford professional security staff, then it is up to the working museum staff to be aware of what can occur. When at the Judah L. Magnes Museum, it was a small staff that had to make sure the collections and visitors were protected, so a short but effective policy was created and used. I have worked with security specialists on drafts of plans and helped create an integrated pest management plan.


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