June 15, 2014     
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The Collections Caretaker e-Newsletter

Museum Security
In This Issue
Regional Workshops
Conferences and Meetings
Introduction To Museum Security
Collections Stewardship, Cataloging and Museum Security
July 2014 Courses
Submissions and Comments
Upcoming Classes
June 23, 2014
MS222: Care of Photographs

July 7, 2014


MS104: An Introduction to Collections Preservation

MS107: Introduction to Museum Security
MS207: Collections Management: Cataloging Your Collection

MS211: Preservation Environments


MS228: Care of Paper Artifacts


MS235: Scripting the Exhibition

August 4, 2014


MS101: Introduction to Museums

MS 208: Applying Numbers to Collection Objects


MS236: Education in Museums 


August 11, 2014


MS002: Collection Protection - Are you Prepared? 


August 18, 2014


MS008: Buy In: Getting All of Staff to Support Preservation

Process ID Chart: 19th Century Photographic Prints


Process ID Chart: 19th Century Photographic Prints
[description from Gawain Weaver Art Conservation website] This process ID chart for 19th century photographic prints is available for free download as a PDF. The chart is used in our Care and ID of Photographs workshops which are taught both in-person and online, but anyone will find it to be a useful reference in navigating the complexities of photographic process. Additional charts on other types of photographic prints and materials will be announced via our Newsletter  as they are completed and ready for download.

Tech Bulletin #18 Fire Prevention Programs for Museums

Tech Bulletin #18 Fire Prevention Programs for Museums

Author: Paul Baril. Will help museums develop and implement effective fire prevention programs. The basic elements of fire prevention programs are discussed, as well as the administration of the program. Numerous examples are provided to help museum staffs prepare documents and procedures.


Tech Bulletin #18 Fire Prevention Programs for Museums


Tech Bulletin #19 Security Hardware and Security System Planning for Museums

Tech Bulletin #19 Security Hardware and Security System Planning for Museums

Author: Wayne Kelly. Helps cultural institutions with their preparations against threats of theft and vandalism. Numerous, inexpensive methods of improving security and various types of currently available sensors and computerized alarm systems are illustrated and described. Several kinds of sensors and their placement within a standardized level of protection proposed for each area in a cultural facility are also recommended.   

Tech Bulletin #19 Security Hardware and Security System Planning for Museums



Regional Workshops 

Where you can find some of our instructors this year: 
John Simmons Philadelphia History Museum
  • "Exhibitions for Cultural Institutions" (with Julianne Snider), 07 October 2014

Forthcoming publications:

  • "Foundations of Museum Studies: Evolving Systems of Knowledge" with Dr. Kiersten F. Latham
  • "Fluid Preservation: A Comprehensive Reference"
  • "Collection Care and Management" in "Museum Practice," edited by Conal McCarthy

Karin Hostetter

National Association for Interpretation 

  • Volunteers in Special Niches, Sept. 16, 2014, 1 - 2 pm (Mountain) a webinar for the National Association for Interpretation on how to recruit, train and reward volunteers. 

Steve Layne

American Association for State & Local History, St Paul, MN   
  • Special Events Security Friday, September 19, 2014, 1:00 - 5:00 p.m. 
Western Museums Association, Las Vegas, NV
  • We Don't Have Uniformed Security Staff - How Can We Be Safe?, Sunday, October 5, 2014, 1:00 - 5:00 p.m.  Hosted by the Hispanic Museum of Nevada 

International Association of Amusement Parks & Attractions, Orlando, FL  

  • Your Personal Safety, Monday, November 17, 2014, 9:00 - 10:15 a.m.
  • Emergency Operations Planning, Monday, November 17, 2014, 10:30 - 11:45 a.m. 

Conferences and Meetings


Society For the Preservation of Natural History Collections Annual Meeting

June 22-28, 2014, Cardiff, Wales, UK


Association of Midwest Museums Annual Meeting

July 14-17, 2014, St. Louis, MO


International Foundation for Cultural Property Protection

Annual Conference, Seminar, Exhibits & Certification Program
August 9-14, 2014, Denver, CO


Greater Than the Sum of Our Parts, 2014 AASLH Annual Meeting

September 17-20, 2014, St. Paul, MN    


Mountain-Plains Museums Association Annual Meeting

September 28 - October 2, 2014, Aspen, CO


Western Museums Association Annual Meeting

October 5-8, 2014, Las Vegas, NV


Southeast Association of Museums Annual Meeting

October 20-22, 2014, Knoxville, TN


New England Association of Museums Annual Meeting

November 19-21, 2014, Cambridge, MA


National Association of Interpretation Annual Meeting

November 18-22, 2014, Denver, CO 

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About Us

Welcome to the Collections Caretaker e-Newsletter from Northern States Conservation Center. The newsletter is designed to bring you timely and helpful content that is pertinent to situations we all encounter in our museum and archives work. Feel free to let us know what topics you would like to see featured in Collections Caretaker or even contribute an article.

Introduction to Museum Security

By Stevan Layne


Our program on the introduction to museum security is intended to provide a useful guideline for those responsible for the protection of collections, visitors and staff. Whether you are an experienced professional, or just getting started, this course walks you through the necessary procedures to accomplish the "best practices" of cultural property protection.   A strong emphasis is placed on fire protection, because "if it burns, it's gone."   Fires take place more frequently and are responsible for considerably more losses in cultural institutions, than any other cause.   While no one expects you to be a firefighter, the best prevention measures are mostly common sense, not requiring rocket science to accomplish.   Good detection systems, and when needed, suppression systems, are certainly worth the investment. However, there's no machine or device that can replace the proper observation and quick response of a person...any staff member or volunteer, properly trained and motivated. Systems are usually recommended, as a tool in your protection inventory, but only if properly selected, installed correctly, and serviced regularly. Each of these elements will be examined.


 The basic elements in cultural property protection include hiring honest/reliable staff, selecting applicable and cost effective electronic systems, and preparing to deal with a variety of incidents. The "best practices" in preventing problems as well as mitigating threats come from a variety of sources. Input from security professionals, especially those directly involved in cultural property protection, makes up a high percentage of the material utilized. There are limited publications on the subject. "Suggested Practices in Museum Security (http://www.securitycommittee.org/securitycommittee/Guidelines_and_Standards.html)," "The Cultural Property Protection Manual," and the most recent "Safeguarding Cultural Property" provide additional resources utilized in the course.

Newly published: Safeguarding Cultural Properties


Every institution is not the same. Size and scope of operations, budgetary limitations, available staff, emergency agency response time, and a number of other factors all play a role in your protection planning. The information included here is as generic as possible to include real life experiences most likely to occur in most institutions. The prevention steps necessary to deter incidents are pretty much the same, regardless of the size and scope of the institution. Emergency response, at least the preliminary steps, is also similar for most environments. Art theft still rates extremely high on the international scale of crimes recorded. Recovery is a special challenge because of the difficulty in determining ownership of most artifacts. A growing crime concern is Organized Retail Theft.   Museums with retail outlets, including food service, may be vulnerable targets.   And while the number of crimes occurring nationally seems to be declining, the violence level in those crimes which do occur seems to be growing annually.


Locking the door and putting valuables in a safe place used to be enough. That's just not good enough anymore. Sophisticated criminals look at alarm systems as just another challenge that may be conquered with a little research.   All these elements taken into consideration make an interesting look into basic security principals, which we will share as the course progresses. Individual problems may be addressed during the "chats," which offers every attendee the opportunity to speak directly with the presenter, and often allows time for individual problem solving. We welcome your participation, and look forward to your participation in this practical, necessary program.


Join Steve Layne for MS107: Introduction to Security to learn more about protecting your institution and collections.


Stevan P. Layne is the principal consultant and chief executive of Layne Consultants International, a leading provider of cultural property protection advice. Steve is a former police chief, public safety director and museum security director. He is the author of The Cultural Property Protection Manual, and the Business Survival Guide. Steve regularly presents to professional associations and has consulted with more than 400 museums and other institutions. Steve is the founding director of the International Foundation for Cultural Property Protection and responsible for the professional training and certification of more than 1,000 museum professionals. For more information visit his web site Layne Consultants International.

Collections Stewardship, Cataloging, and Museum Security

By Peggy Schaller


All museums, whether they are active collecting institutions, non-collecting institutions or somewhere in-between, have collections of one kind or another because we all use 'things' to tell our story.  These 'things' can take many forms.  They can be works of art, historical/ethnographic objects, natural history specimens, live plants or animals, historic properties or interactive, hands-on exhibit objects.  They can be owned by the institution or on loan from another source, but all should relate to and enhance the museum's mission.


The "careful, sound and responsible management" of these collections can be roughly divided into two main categories.  The first is physical management.  This includes providing an appropriate environment for the storage and exhibition of collections in our care and for the transportation of collections within and outside our institutions; providing physical security for collections in storage, on exhibit or moving through the institution or to/from another location; providing written procedures and proper training for monitoring, handling and care of collections; periodic inventories and designated storage/exhibit locations for collections; and addressing collections in disaster plans and drills.  The second category is intellectual management.  This involves the documentation of collections by accessioning, cataloging and documenting appropriateness to the museum's mission; established policies and procedures which outline the museum's responsibilities to the collections, reasons for acquiring them and appropriate uses for them; consistent record keeping and records management; and adherence to ethical, legal and moral obligations to the public trust surrounding our collections and the public benefit derived from them.


Cataloging is the process by which you establish a detailed informational record on each artifact in your collection.  The catalog record documents the ownership, description, history, condition and significance of an object.  Without this documentation it would be virtually impossible to recover a lost or stolen artifact or receive compensation for or make repairs to a damaged artifact.


Object ID is an international standard for describing art, antiques and antiquities. Through the cooperation of museums, customs officials and law enforcement around the world, the Object ID program has established a checklist of questions and information that provides a minimum level of documentation for museum artifacts. Be sure that your records include this critical information for each artifact you hold in your collection.

Object ID Checklist


Certainly, there is more information that a museum will want to keep in its collection catalog beyond that outlined in the Object ID checklist.

The unique history of this particular artifact.  The story that makes it important for the museum to acquire it in the first place.  This could be the object's connection to a particular person, place or event.  Whatever it is that makes this artifact unique, it should help tell the story that drives the museum's mission.


The unique nature of this particular artifact.  Is it a prototype of an invention? Is it the type specimen for a species or subspecies?  Is it the only specimen from a rare meteorite fall? The largest diamond in the world? The Mona Lisa? Or is it the best example of a mass-produced artifact that we are all familiar with? Even if it is the Mona Lisa, it should relate to the mission of the museum and fall within the museum's collection policy or it should not be acquired by your museum.


All this information should reside in one place, your collection catalog.  Your collection catalog is as important as the artifacts themselves.  Artifacts mean very little in the scheme of things without their stories.  Therefore, you should keep your collection catalog as safe and secure as you keep your artifacts.  An added benefit of the collection catalog that cannot be matched by the artifacts is that the catalog can be duplicated and a copy can be maintained in a secure off-site location in case a disaster hits the museum.  Make sure you do this!  And update that off-site copy on a regular basis, especially if you are making a lot of changes to the catalog!


All these things make good collections stewardship the responsibility of every person involved in the successful day-to-day operation of our institutions.  It is the primary mission of all museums and cultural institutions to preserve collections for present and future generations, but also to make these 'things' available and accessible for the enjoyment and education of these same individuals.  The balancing act of preservation, and security, versus accessibility is the essence of collections stewardship.


Peggy Schaller, founded Collections Research for Museums in 1991 to provide cataloging, collection-management training and services. She has worked with a large variety of museums and collections for more than 20 years. Peggy, who lives in Denver, Colorado, has a bachelor's degree in anthropology with minors in art history and geology from the University of Arizona in Tucson. She has a master's degree in anthropology with a minor in museum studies from the University of Colorado in Boulder and is a Certified Institutional Protection Manager II. She provides workshops and project services to museums and historical societies all across the country. The mission of Collections Research for Museums is to inspire museums to improve their professional standards, collections stewardship and service to their constituency through training in, and assistance with, documenting, preserving, protecting and managing their collections. For more information visit her web site Collections Research for Museums.   

Peggy is also the Publications Manager and Certificate Program Coordinator for Northern States Conservation Center and museumclasses.org.                                      


July 2014 Courses


MS104: An Introduction to Collections Preservation

July 7 to Aug 1, 2014

Instructor: Helen Alten


Every museum professional needs a solid foundation in preservation principles and techniques. Introduction to Collections Preservation provides an overview of current preservation issues from environmental monitoring to collection cleaning, exhibit mounts and storage furniture. Participants learn about every aspect of the modern museum and how the building, staff and fixtures affect preservation. Subjects include the agents of deterioration, risk management, object handling and transport, object labeling, exhibit lighting, security, emergency preparedness, materials for storage and display, storage and exhibit philosophies, and condition assessments.


MS107: Introduction to Museum Security

Instructor:  Stevan Layne

July 7 to Aug 1, 2014 


World events continually remind us just how important security is. The FBI and Interpol databases record thefts from small rural museums and world renowned art collections. The prevalence of collections lost to theft is brought home to us with regular sensational newspaper stories. And then there are the internal thefts, fires, and collection vandalism that also result in loss. Security must be a priority for every museum, regardless of size. Introduction to Security teaches basic, practical approaches to protecting against threats such as theft, vandalism, violent acts, natural disasters, fire and environmental hazards. Topics include selecting security systems, determining security needs and how to build affordable security systems. Screening, hiring, firing, workplace violence, policies and procedures and emergency management planning are covered as well.


MS207: Collections Management: Cataloging Your Collection

July 7 to Aug 1, 2014

Instructor: Peggy Schaller


Cataloging may not be the most exciting museum task, but it is among the most important. Without a clear knowledge of your holdings, you can't protect, care for, research or exhibit them. Without knowledge of an item's history, you can't properly appreciate its value to your museum. Cataloging Your Collection covers all details needed to catalog a collection. Procedures for handling, measuring and describing all types of objects and materials are discussed in detail. Participants receive sample forms and learn the best practices for numbering artifacts, performing inventory and assessing the condition of objects. Participants practice describing everyday objects and cataloging items from their own collections or households.


MS211: Preservation Environments

July 7 to Aug 8, 2014

Instructor: Ernest Conrad


The museum's brick exterior wall is crumbling. The powder coated metal storage shelves have active rust under the foam padding. Objects in fur storage are covered in mold. It is raining in the exhibit hall. This is the damage that occurs to museum buildings or collection when staff do not understand preservation environments. Preservation Environments is essential knowledge for any collecting institution. Everyone should understand how humidity and temperature are controlled by a building and its mechanical system. For museum staff considering a new building - and any institution planning to expand or rebuild an existing one - Preservation Environments provide important information for calculating whether the proposed improvements will actually improve the environmental control of your protective enclosure. Participants learn the advantages and disadvantages of numerous methods of temperature and humidity control. Preservation Environments does not try to turn museum professionals into engineers. Rather, it arms them with the knowledge they need to work with engineers and maintenance professionals. And helps explain why damaged occurred and how to keep it from happening again.


MS228: Care of Paper Artifacts

July 7 to Aug 1, 2014

Instructor: Susan Duhl


Care of Paper provides an introduction to the materials and techniques of papermaking, how paper use and the agents of deterioration affect paper's longevity, and how to improve storage and exhibit to increase that longevity. The course covers all paper types, including archival materials such as books and manuscripts, art on paper, oriental paper, western paper and 3-D paper. The course is designed for librarians, archivists, curators, collection managers and those interested in paper and its care.


MS235: Scripting the Exhibition On-line Course

July 7 to Aug 1, 2014

Instructor: Karin Hostetter


So much to say and so little space in which to say it. That is the dilemma when scripting an exhibition. How do you say what needs to be said in the space available? How do you even figure out how to limit the information in the first place? Discover the value of themes, tangibles, intangibles, and universals in writing exhibit text that visitors really want to read -- and remember. Additional resources provided on font size and colors as well as label layout.


Submissions and Comments


How to submit an article or upcoming workshops for inclusion in the Newsletter:  

If you would like to submit an article, notice of an organizational meeting or upcoming workshop for an upcoming Collections Caretaker Newsletter, send your submission to peggy@collectioncare.org.  


We are always looking for contributions to this newsletter. Submission deadline is the 10th of each month. 


Have a comment or suggestion?   


Send it to peggy@collectioncare.org

Northern States Conservation Center (NSCC) provides training, collection care, preservation and conservation treatment services. NSCC offers online museum studies classes at www.museumclasses.org in Collections Management & Care, Museum Administration & Management, Exhibit Practices and Museum Facilities Management.


Helen Alten, Director

Peggy Schaller, Publications Manager