What Is Museum SOS

Teresa Moreno
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A Consortium of University Museums and Collections Facilities: Its role in Emergency Preparedness and Response

Teresa Moreno
Preservation Division
Arizona State Museum
University of Arizona


The Arizona State Museum (ASM) has taken a leadership role with twelve other collections facilities at the University of Arizona. Together, this group forms a Consortium on campus. The ASM, however, is the only unit that has a division dedicated to preservation, a conservation lab and full time faculty conservators. For this reason, many of the other museums and units with collections have looked to the ASM for support and guidance in matters of preservation and collections care issues including emergency preparedness and response.

The concept of emergency planning is not new to ASM. In the late 1980s, Head Conservator, Dr. Nancy Odegaard initiated the museum's first emergency preparedness plan, which later resulted in the production of the ASM Emergency Manual. The manual was intended to: provide instruction on steps to take to prevent and mitigate damage and disruption of museums operations caused by an emergency situation, make the museum more resistant to the effects of a disaster, minimize the direct and consequential loss of resources resulting from a disaster, and prepare in advance to speed the museum's recovery from any damage sustained. This manual has been requested by and shared with institutions both within the University of Arizona and throughout the country.

Following the terrorist attacks in September 2001 colleges and universities around the United States were asked to prepare plans to deal with emergencies and crises should they occur. As a result, the University of Arizona Initiative on Preparedness and Emergency Response was established and produced the Campus Emergency Response Plan. In the fall of 2002, following a tragic shooting at the University of Arizona College of Nursing, the Arizona Board of Regents mandated that the UA create a second volume that would consist of a Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plan. This plan produced by a team under the direction of UA Vice President Julius Parker, focuses on minimizing the disruption of academic and support operations after at disaster.

Representatives from the University of Arizona Museums and Collections Facilities Consortium were invited to join this team in order to address recovery concerns as they pertained to rare and valued cultural property owned by the university. The result of this collaborative effort is a document included in the UA Campus Emergency Response Plan. This paper will discuss the objective of the Consortium's Annex within the wider university plan, its focus on human safety, security and preservation of collections, quick response to preclude damage to collections and valued items, and recovery procedures.



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