Emergency Preparedness


In the wake of recent world events, institutions have learned that preparation is required to be able to respond in the case of a disaster – whether natural or manmade. This process is known as “emergency preparedness” or “disaster planning”. While the word “disaster” may imply a major event, such as floods, fires, or earthquakes, most collection disasters are much smaller in scale such as flooding from a burst pipe.

This broad topic covers a wide range of planning activities that are easy to put off, leading to ruinous results. In the event that a disaster, large or small, cannot be prevented, individuals and institutions must be prepared to respond appropriately to assure safety of personnel and collections, and then salvage whatever can be saved. In 2005, Heritage Preservation published A Public Trust at Risk: The Heritage Health Index Report on the State of America’s Collections, indicating that nearly 80% of Museums in America do not have an emergency management or disaster recovery plan. Good emergency preparedness can mitigate certain hazards and ensure that other emergencies do not turn into full-scale disasters. For this to happen effectively, a plan must already be in place—during a disaster is no time to plan. 

This portion of the website will provide some basic information in these broad areas:

Additional Resources for Emergency Preparedness and Response

  • Museum SOS is an AMNH website with extensive information on disaster response and salvage.
  • The American Institute for Conservation has information on Disaster Response and Recovery. Additionally, they have a program, AIC-CERT – The AIC-Collections Emergency Response Team, which responds to the needs of cultural institutions during emergencies and disasters through coordinated efforts with first responders, state agencies, vendors and the public. For 24-hour assistance, call (202) 661-8068