INTERNATIONAL FOUNDATION FORCULTURAL PROPERTY PROTECTION
Reposted from AAM
In combating climate change, we can look to Indigenous and historic practices for models of sustainable architectural solutions to extreme heat, cold, and humidity. Structures built in societies or eras without electrically powered air conditioning found passive methods to beat the heat, from enclosed balconies in traditional Indian architecture, designed to funnel cooling breezes; to lanais, the traditional open-sided verandas of Hawaii. We can learn from surviving examples of such structures, some of which are preserved as historic houses or sites. However, in coming decades, many buildings that were perfectly adapted to local conditions when they were first erected will find themselves living in a climate much more severe than that for which they were designed. Yet these historic structures are quintessentially place-based: what is an historic house to do when the world, and the climate, shifts? Today on the blog, Jenny Dyer shares some advice based on her work as Historic House Manager and Preservation Administrator for the Louisiana Landmarks Society and Pitot House Museum.
–Elizabeth Merritt, Vice President, Strategic Foresight and Founding Director, Center for the Future of Museums
Most historic houses in the Southeastern United States were built with flooding and extreme heat in mind, because the southern coastal region is hot, humid, and prone to flooding. They were built two to three centuries ago with many tall windows with transoms, lofty ceilings, raised foundations, and expansive galleries, all of which kept the heat at bay and the water out of the living space. The houses are uniquely built for a harsh sub-tropic environment, down to the frames themselves, which are usually made from local cypress to combat rot from rainwater and insects such as termites.
An excellent case study is the Pitot House on Bayou St. John in New Orleans’ Mid-City neighborhood. Constructed in 1799, it is the quintessential Creole country home. Comparable homes were a regular feature of the built environment along the southern bayous for centuries. Early residents were aware of the harsh environment they were living in and constructed the house on pillars out of cypress and stucco with a deep, wide gallery and strategically placed windows and doors that ventilate the living space. These houses have served their purpose well for the last two centuries. However, their builders could not have foreseen the even worse severity of those harsh conditions that climate change now threatens.
Historic houses face unique challenges in addressing environmental threats. They are not easily movable artifacts, nor are they easily packaged to protect against weather events. In some rare cases they can be moved, as the Pitot House was 1965 to prevent it from being demolished, but the stewards of historic buildings and houses typically consider this a last-resort plan, both because of the time and money involved and the risks incurred. Moving a historic house raises concerns about structural integrity during relocation, the relative safety of the new location, and whether the house will lose historical value outside of its original natural environment. For example, when the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse owned by the National Park Service urgently needed to be moved in 1999 because of the threat of coastal erosion, a significant question was how far to move it to prevent future threats of erosion while keeping it in a location appropriate to its maritime history. Another challenge in protecting the houses arises when considering what contents of the house should be regarded as a part of the larger “package” and need to be protected as well. These questions become complicated and difficult to manage for most non-profit organizations, which are typically the steadfast preservers of America’s historic homes.
Barring moving the structures to safety, there are piecemeal options available to protect them that are essential for stewards to explore. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), an environmentally sound structure combines approaches by addressing heat, humidity, rain, flooding and wind. To that end, the goal is to have things in place like window reflectors specifically designed to reflect heat back outside. This was done effectively by the National Park Service at Oakland Plantation in Natchitoches, Louisiana. In addition, insulation is indicated to keep the heat out, and a powered attic ventilator, or attic fan, to regulate the heat level of a building’s attic by clearing out hot air. Again, this is recommended for modern structures, but can be helpful in historic houses if done responsibly and properly. However, the challenge for houses owned by non-profits is the cost and time required.
The architecture and engineering firm Watson & Henry Associates recently conducted a study of the environmental concerns of the Pitot House which offered modifications and additions to its existing recommendations to comply with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties and maintain the house’s historic character. Their recommendations included screens, shades, or curtains hung on the windows to keep out the heat and sunlight. Another useful and acceptable budget-friendly recommendation was the age-old method of opening and closing the shutters and windows at crucial times—i.e., opening windows and doors to ventilate during hot, humid daytime periods. Pitot House has been doing this to significant effect.
The most significant challenge we face is flooding and hurricanes causing wind and water damage. In 2021, Hurricane Ida strengthened to a Category 4 hurricane within twenty-four hours, with maximum sustained winds of 150 miles per hour. Most staff and board members evacuated the area, and the most we had time to do to protect the house was shuttering it. Upon our return, shutters and roof shingles had been blown off, doors had been blown open, and many trees had fallen. We were not the only damaged historic property, as many iconic sites, such as Oak Alley, suffered the same if not worse damage. It was a wake-up call to many. With an already limited budget, cleaning up and making repairs after the storm taxed the stewards of the house and set back plans to make permanent preventative changes. Yet, preventive measures could not be overlooked.
The plans to address wind and water environmental concerns, ignored not out of negligence but out of budget necessity, emerged again as of the utmost importance. Some of them included:
(Pitot House implemented many of these recommendations within eight months of Hurricane Ida.)
All of these recommendations are well and good, but useless if stewards of historic houses do not have a strategic plan in place. A staff and board meeting concluded that we did not have a robust plan and required one immediately. With that in mind, we consulted several local organizations to gather information, training, and resources. Notably, Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities conducted several excellent webinars on disaster preparedness and offered a well-rounded resource guide for cultural institutions. It has proved an invaluable resource for Pitot House as we begin the planning process. It includes streamlined recommendations on readiness and planning, response and recovery, and building a network, as well as handouts and links. The guide will soon be available on their website.
Historic houses are some of our nation’s most unique artifacts, their diversity of architecture and region making them even more challenging to protect. One size does not fit all, as they say. As many of them are transforming their interpretations and representations into more diverse and inclusive histories, they are meeting the challenges of remaining relevant and essential. They still hold a space for representative living history that provides invaluable insights into institutions, periods, trends, and individuals of our past, together with significant, interesting examples of historic workmanship and architecture. For these reasons, it is time to take rapid environmental changes seriously if we are to save the houses, buildings, and sites that hold together the fabric of our history.
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Reposted from Herald Mail Media
A rare piece of Baroque art. An international mystery. A determined art expert.
And finally, after nearly 60 years, a resolution to a theft first discovered in 1965 — in Munich.
When a year-end donation to the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts last winter included a rare Baroque drawing by Italian artist Giovanni Battista Salvi — better known as Sassoferatto — the museum staff was thrilled.
"How truly delightful it is that Hagerstown now has a Sassoferrato to call its own!" museum Executive Director Sarah Hall gushed in a column for The Herald-Mail.
It was no small distinction — most of Sassoferrato's known drawings are in the Royal Collection at Windsor Castle, one of Queen Elizabeth II's several homes in Britain.
The drawing, "Madonna and Child (c. 1650)," was part of a collection donated to the museum by John and Sylvie O'Brien. They had purchased the work from a French collector in 1970.
The piece is a study for oil paintings Sassoferrato completed later, and originally included a study of a hand in the upper right corner.
Once the acquisition was made, Daniel Fulco, the museum's Agnita M. Stine Schreiber curator, set about the business of researching the piece.
"The drawing came into the collection (over) the holidays. And oftentimes what we will do is, we do preliminary checking, we do some basic research on the piece," Fulco told The Herald-Mail. "But then later, after it's been accessioned, we will often go into more depth, especially if we're planning to do a feature on it or something like that."
Fulco, a soft-spoken man who clearly knows his stuff, found a catalog published by French scholar François Lepinay in 2017 for a special exhibition of Sassoferrato's works, primarily from the collection at Windsor.
"And sure enough, there's the drawing pictured in one of his essays. And I said, 'Wow, that looks a lot like the drawing that was donated by John and Sylvie O'Brien,'" Fulco said.
"So I took the book, and I went downstairs into storage. And lo and behold, when I put them together, I said, 'Oh, my goodness, this is almost a mirror image.'
"And that's when there was a little bit of a drop in my stomach, because I was kind of like, 'oh no,' because the caption book said 'missing/stolen, since 1965, Munich Graphic Collection, Germany.'"
And that's when Fulco knew he had to talk to his colleagues about next steps.
"But at the same time, of course, we had just very recently accessioned this. It also was disappointing, because it would have been a major acquisition for the museum," he said.
"But we are in an era now of transparency. And so it is the duty of the museum to do due diligence and return it to its rightful owner."
He also spoke with the donors, who hadn't realized it was stolen.
"John O'Brien had acquired it in 1970," he said, "and with that you get into many unknowns, because you can't know exactly where it was between 1965 and 1970.
Museum collections weren't documented at that point as they are now, he added, and stolen works were more difficult to track.
In fact, the initial discovery of the theft in 1965 was a bit of a fluke.
A student doing research at the Graphic Collection in Munich discovered on Aug. 13, 1965, that the drawing had been torn away from its base and stolen. The museum contacted Munich police, but the Munich prosecutor's office reported the investigation closed by the end of the week, as authorities concluded all leads had been exhausted and the thief couldn't be identified.
In other words, nobody knew when the piece was stolen, or by whom.
Fulco, Hull and Collections Registrar Sarah Wolfe, compared the drawing with the missing work depicted in the catalog, and concluded that most of it matched up "line for line" — although some alterations had been made to the drawing, presumably to make it easier for the thief to sell.
Fulco said the alteration could have been done with a light eraser, a tool or a mild solution, but on the upper right of the sheet, a study of the hands was "almost erased to oblivion." And the drawing's original inventory number had been erased as well.
The damage "undermines the integrity of the artist's technique," Fulco said. "It does diminish its value, that is its monetary value. And it spoils for us, as viewers, the artist's original intents, which were to really show the contrast between the shading and the highlights of the draperies of the Madonna and child, and also their facial details, because the outlines of Sassoferrato are so clear … they're very linear, very crisp, they're also rounded — it depends on what part of the figure — that when this person did that, to disguise it for sale on the black market, they have totally diminished the drawing."
Nevertheless, while Fulco couldn't comment on its actual value, it's still rare and therefore still valuable.
The museum contacted the FBI for procedural guidance, and contacted the museum in Germany. And at some point soon, the piece will be returned.
“Our museum greatly appreciates the conscientiousness given to the drawing by the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts in acquiring it," Michael Hering, director of State Graphic Collection in Munich, said in a statement. "This attentiveness made it possible to identify the sheet as the one that had been stolen from the holdings of the Graphische Sammlung in 1965 and has been sorely missed ever since.”
Museum officials there thought the work had been lost forever.
“It is very fortunate and encouraging that an exchange between museums on different continents can be conducted in such a collegial manner,” Herring said.
But you still have a chance to see the piece before it goes home; it is on display at the museum through August.
“While I will definitely feel a pang of loss when we pack the drawing up to return it to Munich, I’m proud of the curatorial research that allowed us to send this drawing home, and I am appreciative of the time we have had to enjoy this beautiful drawing firsthand," Hall said.
But while this particular lost art has been recovered, the Munich police might have been right about one thing: The mystery of who took it, and when, remains — perhaps forever.
Reposted from Security Management Magazine
Active assailants have typically come in different categories: psychological disorder-driven active shooters, ideologically extremist-driven terrorists, vengeful employees (or ex-employees), and insiders who are known as troubled individuals to at least some of their intended targets. But a recent wave of violent attackers crosses these separate categories, vastly complicating traditional threat assessment practices.
In these active threats where several distinctive categories of threats converge, there is a direct relationship between the attacker and at least some of the intended targeted victims. Such attacks often fall into one of two categories: workplace violence type 3, when the attacker intentionally targets his or her coworkers (or ex-coworkers) at their places of employment, or workplace violence type 2, when a customer or patient targets a retail, entertainment, hotel, or other facility where some of the employees may recognize the attacker as a regular customer or patient.
These violent assailants are lone actors, as opposed to members of an organized terrorist group, although some members of groups might be known to some of their intended victims.
To effectively anticipate and counter the multidimensional nature of this broader category of attackers, it is crucial to expand the professional security community’s analytic lenses. It is helpful to apply a multidisciplinary approach to identify potential perpetrators because they now exhibit the characteristics of several categories of threat actors, rather than solely one category.
To be defined as active threat lone actors (ATLAs), these attackers either are psychologically disordered active shooters or ideologically extremist terrorists who have a direct relation to at least some of their intended targeted victims and their workplaces, whether as fellow (or former) employees or as customers or patients who are known to at least some of the staff, with their attacks considered workplace violence-related. Knowing at least some of their intended targeted victims also makes the violent assailants insiders.
To qualify as ATLAs, at least three of the four categories of the violent characteristics of such perpetrators need to converge:
In some of the incidents, the perpetrator might be both a terrorist and an active shooter, as some lone actor terrorists are considered to exhibit a higher degree of mental disorder than those who join terrorist groups. (For more on this, see A false dichotomy? Mental illness and lone-actor terrorism, by Emily Corner and Paul Gill.) The insider dimension of such lone attackers is the most crucial because it characterizes perpetrators who will conduct attacks at a workplace, whether as employees (current or former) or as customers or patients.
What makes this new threat category especially significant is that it applies both to ideologically driven terrorists and psychologically disordered active assailants. The perpetrators primarily operate as lone actors (and, in a few cases, they might have a co-attacker), and they generally do not belong to an organized group, according to the Handbook of Terrorism Prevention and Preparedness.
The attacker’s insider status makes it easier for such ATLAs to thwart some strict security mechanisms that might be in place to prevent an attack. As a result, such a direct authorized access at the targeted area enables an active threat attacker to potentially inflict a higher level of fatalities and injuries than other types of lone actor attackers. An outsider would have difficulty entering their targeted facility with their firearms and ammunition.
This multidimensional nature of ATLAs, therefore, requires a more complex awareness, preparation, and response cycle by the professional security community.
To understand how pervasive the threats by active threat lone actors (ATLA) pose to public safety, this chronology provides a list of their significant attacks globally from the mid-1990s to mid-2022. The categories of each incident are listed at the end, noted as: terrorist (T), active shooter (AS), insider (I), and workplace violence (WV), whether as type 2 (customer/patient) or type 3 (worker-on-worker).
20 June 1994: Dean Mellberg, a 20-year-old U.S. airman who had recently been dishonorably discharged, attacked the Fairchild Air Force Base hospital complex in Spokane, Washington, killing four—including the psychologist and psychiatrist whose diagnosis led to his discharge—and wounding 23. [AS, I, WV-3]
5 November 2009: U.S. Army psychiatrist Major Nidal Malik Hassan, 39, killed 13 people and wounded 39 others in a shooting at Fort Hood military base in Killeen, Texas. Throughout his career, colleagues and superiors expressed concern about his low job performance and extremist views. [T, AS, I, WV-3]
27 September 2012: Andrew Engeldinger, 36, attacked the Accent Signage Systems company outside of Minneapolis, Minnesota, after he was told he was about to be fired. Throughout his employment at the company, he had been repeatedly disciplined for “offensive behavior, tardiness, and poor job performance.” Engeldinger killed six people and wounded two others. [AS, I, WV-3]
16 September 2013: Aaron Alexis, 34, had worked for a company that provided IT contract services to the U.S. Navy, which provided him access to the guarded Naval Sea Systems Command headquarters at the Washington Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. Alexis had learned he was about to be fired, which led him to target his coworkers. By the end of the attack, 13 people were killed, including the perpetrator. [AS, I, WV-3]
2 December 2015: Husband and wife Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, and Tashfeen Malik, 29, attacked his workplace holiday party at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California, killing 14 people and wounding 22 others. The couple considered themselves jihadists. [T, AS, I, WV-3]
12 June 2016: Omar Mateen, age 29, carried out a mass shooting at the Pulse Nightclub, in Orlando, FL, killing 49 people and wounding 53 others. Mateen killed himself following a three-hour standoff with the responding Orlando Police officers. He was reportedly a customer at the club and was known to some of the employees, and in the course of his attack he announced his ideologically extremist views. [T, AS, I, WV-2]
14 June 2017: James Hodgkinson, 66, wounded six people during a mass shooting at a practice session for the annual Congressional Baseball Game for Charity in Alexandria, Virginia. He was reportedly a left-wing political activist from Belleville, Illinois, who had spent several days at the park’s recreation center before the attack. [T, AS, I, WV-2]
26 September 2017: Nimer Mahmoud Ahmad Jamal, 37, a Palestinian laborer, carried out a shooting attack against security guards at the entrance gate of Har Adar, an Israeli settlement outside Jerusalem. Jamal killed three Israeli security guards and wounded a fourth before he was killed in a shootout with the security guards. Jamal held a license to work in Israeli settlements, and he was known to the guards at the town’s entrance gate, so his attack took them by surprise. The Times of Israel reported that Jamal, who had been radicalized into violent extremism, also suffered from severe personal and family issues, including engaging in domestic violence against his wife. [T, AS, I, WV-3]
1 October 2017: Stephen Paddock, 64, used his vantage point on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, to fire more than 1,000 bullets down on the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival, killing 60 people and wounding 411. The ensuing panic injured several hundred more. [AA, I, WV-2]
7 October 2018: Ashraf Waleed Suliman Na’alwa, 23, a Palestinian, worked at the Barkan Industrial Park in the West Bank as an electrician. He entered the factory with a Carlo sub-machine gun and killed two Israeli coworkers, wounding a third. It was reported that he had trained for his attack for two weeks, with his mother indicted by Israeli authorities for knowing about his intended attack but not reporting it. [T, I, WV-3]
3 October 2019: Mickael Harpon, 45, an IT worker at the police headquarters in Paris, France, used a kitchen knife to fatally stab four coworkers, while wounding an additional worker. Harpon had worked at the police headquarters for several years. He had converted to Islam some 18 months earlier and was reportedly radicalized into religious extremism, with some of his colleagues alerting managers to his suspicious opinions and behaviors, but no formal investigation was launched. [T, AA, I, WV-3]
6 December 2019: Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, 21, a second lieutenant in the Saudi Arabian Air Force and an aviation student, carried out a mass shooting attack at Naval Air Station Pensacola, in Pensacola, Florida. Three U.S. Navy sailors were killed, and eight others were injured. It was reported that he had become radicalized into jihadist extremism in Saudi Arabia as early as 2015. [T, AA, I, WV-3]
30 October 2021: Ethan Crumbley, 15, carried out a mass shooting attack at the Oxford High School in Oxford, Michigan, where he was a sophomore student. Four students were killed and seven others injured, including a teacher. Crumbley was previously known to his school authorities as psychologically problematic. In addition to criminal charges, he was also indicted with a terrorism charge, under Michigan law, for “an act that is intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population.” [T, AA, I, WV-2]
1 June 2022: Michael Louis, 45, used an AR-15 style semiautomatic rifle to kill four people at St. Francis Hospital, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He shot himself to death immediately after targeting his victims. He had been a patient at the hospital and allegedly intentionally targeted his former physician and nursing staff because he was unhappy about his earlier treatment for back problems. [AA, I, WV-2]
To effectively preempt ATLA perpetrators at the earliest pre-incident phases, it is crucial to collate at least three out of four of their characteristic types and the pre-incident early warning signs associated with each of them and how they might converge into active threat assailants, to be aware of the category of violent attacks they might carry out as troubled insiders.
In all of the 14 incidents included here, the perpetrators were known to at least some of their intended victims, and in many cases they were considered highly problematic individuals. This is a crucial early warning indicator because such insiders are aware of how to exploit an organization’s security vulnerabilities in order to smuggle their firearms and ammunition for their intended attack. Lone attackers without a similar direct link would have a harder time accessing facilities and reaching targets.
Anticipating how pre-incident activities might lead to perpetrators’ engagement in violence requires a multifaceted forecasting approach.
If the attacker’s activities were viewed as largely singular in nature—preparing for a terrorist attack in general, but not an attack against one’s coworkers as well—their activities would be more difficult to monitor unless those associated with the potential perpetrator would be aware of the early warning signs to collate into an actionable threat assessment. Otherwise, such perpetrators would benefit from the shorter timeframe available to their targeted adversaries to prevent, preempt, or halt their pre-incident attack preparations. As three or four of these types of threats converge, the magnitude of the overall threat becomes exponentially greater (e.g., combining workplace violence’s insider access with a terrorist or active assailant’s vengeful motivation, attack capability and arsenal of weaponry and ammunition).
To anticipate and prevent potential attacks by such active threat perpetrators, security professionals must aggregate their previously separate threat assessment methodologies to forecast how an individual in their midst might become an active threat lone actor (ATLA): an active shooter (psychological disorder and disposition to violence), a terrorist (radicalization into violent extremism and acquisition of arms as a lone actor or joining a terrorist group), perpetrator of workplace violence (vengefulness towards coworkers accompanied by acquisition of weapon and ammunition), and an insider (someone who is known to associates, including coworkers, with a possible disposition to become an active threat-type perpetrator).
But gathering threat information is not enough. To preemptively prevent potential active threat incidents, public safety responders in government, law enforcement, and the private sector need to be knowledgeable about how to respond to each of these threats and to prepare tailored and customized responses to comprehensively respond to several threats in combination.
For example, it is legitimate in a democratic society for an employee to espouse an extremist ideology. But when it is accompanied by angry and vengeful expressions towards coworkers and increasing isolation from them, it should at the very least be reported to an organization’s human resources department for an appropriate counseling measure. If it is discovered that the employee is also accumulating firearms and ammunition under suspicious circumstances, then the local police department should be contacted for a follow-up measure. The organization’s security department should be made aware of each development, while ensuring the employee’s privacy rights are protected to the extent possible.
Promoting such an enterprise-wide situational awareness of active threat risks will also resolve any definitional confusion that may arise when multi-type perpetrator incidents occur. For example, if a workplace violence incident is caused by an employee’s ideological extremism, as opposed to dissatisfaction with one’s job, then the early warning signs associated with ideological extremism need to be monitored. This will help avoid the confusion of having to come up with a single threat term to define the underlying causes for such violent attacks, since several threat types will converge for them in a combustible mix.
Such early warning risk-based mind-sets and behaviors were not reported to appropriate authorities, signaling a reluctance to get involved, a fear of being wrong and liable for a counter-suit, or lack of awareness of proper reporting mechanisms that would still maintain privacy and civil liberties provisions for all concerned.
While it is still important to be aware that a violent assailant, such as a terrorist, might attack a target with no direct tie to it, an assailant might be someone who is known to its intended target as well. Security professionals should adopt an expanded 360-degree threat awareness aperture that takes multiple and multilayered threat pathways into account. For upgraded threat awareness, therefore, the construct of an enterprise-wide security focus on an imminent active threat situation must become pervasive for all those tasked to preempt such attacks at the earliest pre-incident attack phases.
Reposted from The Art Newspaper
One of the most famous paintings in the Gallerie degli Uffizi in Florence, Sandro Botticelli's Primavera (around 1480), was left undamaged after climate activists glued themselves to the masterpiece, gallery officials say. The protest on 22 July was carried out by a man and two women from the climate activist group Ultima Generazione (Last Generation); all three were dragged away by security guards though it is unclear if the demonstrators have been charged.
A gallery spokesperson says that the protesters glued themselves to the glass covering the work, which took 20 minutes to clean following the glue incident. “If there had not been the special protection glass—something that museum management put in place with all major masterpieces a few years ago—then the work would have been badly damaged.” The protestors also rolled out a banner which read: “Last Generation: No Gas, No Coal.”
In an online statement, Ultima Generazione representatives say that there was no risk to Botticelli’s celebrated work. “We consulted restorers who advised us to use a glue suitable for glass and frames,” they say. The group says meanwhile that governments worldwide must "immediately stop reopening disused coal plants and halt any new oil and gas extraction projects".
“In the same way that we defend our artistic heritage, we should be dedicated to the care and protection of the planet that we share with the rest of the world,” they add. The press statement is headed, “Actions in museums: let’s start with the Uffizi”, implying that other activist campaigns at Italian institutions may be imminent.
The protest follows a number of similar actions in the UK at major museums and galleries. Earlier this month, environmental activists from the group Just Stop Oil glued themselves to the celebrated Constable painting The Hay Wain (1821) at the National Gallery in London; Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow, Manchester Art Gallery and the Royal Academy of Arts in London were also targeted.
Primavera shows nine figures from classical mythology gathered in an orange grove including the goddess of love and beauty, Venus, and a blindfolded Cupid, firing his arrow. “Although the complex meaning of the composition remains a mystery, the painting is a celebration of love, peace, and prosperity,” says a statement on the Gallerie degli Uffizi website.
It is a dramatic understatement to say that staying one step ahead of continually evolving cyberthreats like ransomware, malware, and other serious attacks must be a top priority. Today’s global community of threat actors and hackers are sophisticated and organized, constantly on the move to find the next layer of vulnerability in your environment. A proactive, all-encompassing security strategy is essential.
If you are like most organizations, your focus on tightening security starts with heightening identity access management at the perimeter and graduates to following established best practices that span across your applications, your data, your networks, and the cloud.
This begs the questions: What’s next? To where should you turn your attention? The fact is serious, persistent threats are already looming in your infrastructure. The lowest-hanging fruit—and the most vulnerable point of attack—is where you may least expect it: the hardware and firmware that lies in the deep layers of your physical infrastructure.
The increasing proliferation of malware attacks on server infrastructure prove they are vulnerable ransomware or malware targets.
Let me paint a picture of why. Think about how many different components in your data center need firmware updates. Your server includes myriad specialty pieces of hardware and the firmware that goes along with them—some examples include the BIOS (basic input/output system), Board Management Controller (BMC), solid state drives (SSDs), storage controllers, network card, and more.
To complicate things further, the firmware update process is not universal across operating systems, hardware vendors, or the device getting updated. Some require you to boot from one operating system, update the firmware, and then go back to the previous operating system. Due to the cumbersome nature of this updating process, IT organizations tend to ignore the firmware, leaving a huge hole that is very open to ransomware and other attacks.
Although organizations understandably won’t voluntarily disclose that they have been the target of a firmware-based attack, there is mounting evidence that bad actors are pursuing this route. A recent Microsoft Security Signals report found that more than 80 percent of enterprises have experienced at least one firmware attack in the past two years, yet only 29 percent of security budgets are allocated to protect firmware.
As you plan your best next courses of action, there are two key security principles and solutions to keep in mind.
While it’s been around for a while, the concept of zero trust is prominent in every current security discussion and is used in the design and implementation of IT systems. It’s built on a never-trust, always-verify model where devices are not trusted by default, even if they are connected to a permissioned network such as a corporate local area network (LAN) and even if they were previously verified.
A recent report published on 26 January 2022 by the Executive Office of the President builds a case for moving the U.S. government toward zero trust cybersecurity principles.
The report notes that in the current threat environment, the U.S. federal government can no longer depend on conventional perimeter-based defenses to protect critical systems and data. These perimeter-level mechanisms—firewalls, for example—focus only on protecting infrastructure accessibility. If breached, hackers can suddenly get their hands on all data and information within the perimeter, as there are no other layers of defense.
It then goes on to build the case that a transition to a zero-trust approach to security provides a defensible architecture for this new environment.
As outlined in this report, the foundational tenet of the zero-trust model is that no actor, system, network, or service operating outside or within the security perimeter is trusted. Instead, anything and everything attempting to establish access must be verified. This is a dramatic paradigm shift in philosophy of how infrastructure, networks, and data are secured—moving from verify once at the perimeter to continual verification of each user, device, application, and transaction.
To simplify the idea, let’s look at how zero trust would be applied to a real-world environment, like your home, for instance. The most common security model today is perimeter security. For your home, this means your front door is locked. And that might be enough, right? Wrong. What if you are storing something valuable in one of the rooms inside your house? Once the front door is bypassed, the intruder can access any room in the house. With zero trust security models, each room within the house would be locked and the contents secure.
At every security layer, this line of thinking is applicable to government organizations and private enterprises alike. Increased value comes as zero trust models incorporate always-on, end-to-end encryption of data at rest as well as data in-flight. And applying a zero-trust model ensures that all customer and application data is always secure, even if drives are physically removed from the servers.
With threats increasingly targeting deeper levels of server hardware and firmware, there’s a pressing need for a way to securely deploy and maintain the deeper layers of server-based infrastructure. The ideal way to protect your infrastructure is through an immutable solution, one that prevents inadvertent changes by users that could open the door to malicious software. An immutable solution can be used to deploy standardized server-based infrastructure rapidly and repeatedly, yet still maintain consistency.
Immutable machine instances implemented avoid configuration drift, so that the firmware across all your devices is up to date, with no holes where a new cyberthreat can break in. Cluster upgrades are simplified using discretely versioned immutable instances and infrastructure standardization.
In this way, your IT organization can manage and maintain your hardware-based infrastructure, overcoming increasing security challenges as you consistently and reliably provision bare-metal infrastructure services and operating systems. As a result, you can avoid configuration drift and maintain infrastructure security at the same time.
What’s more, to help you better meet and maintain your security goals, some vendors are now offering streamlined mechanisms that eliminate the need for complex encryption and security configurations at every level. This ensures your organization—and its infrastructure—isn’t subject to vulnerabilities due to lack of expertise or incomplete security configurations.
Between the application of zero trust principles throughout the infrastructure and the elimination of configuration drift, there will be no holes to exploit beyond your front door.
On the day temperatures reached a record high in the UK, topping 40C, the British Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in London closed a number of galleries. The move comes after the staff union Public & Commercial Services (PCS) called on both institutions to adopt appropriate safety measures.
According to the advocacy group the UK Museums Association, PCS raised ongoing concerns with the British Museum regarding poor indoor air quality in the extreme heat, highlighting staff safety issues. Asked if the museum closed early following pressure from the union, a spokesperson for the British Museum says that due to the Red National severe weather warning, the museum closed at 15.00 on 18 and 19 July.
She adds: “During opening hours, we also temporarily closed some of the upper levels of the museum to ensure the comfort and safety of staff and visitors. The museum remained open and also accessible online. We continue to monitor the situation and measures we have in place and will take any further actions necessary. The galleries available for viewing this week may be subject to change.”
The list of available and closed galleries can be found on the British Museum website and is regularly updated; at present 46 galleries are listed as being closed at different times from 2022 to 2023. Galleries may be closed for maintenance, refurbishment or private events.
According to the online news outlet Novara Media, Nick Marro, the co-secretary of the PCS Victoria & Albert Museum branch, “negotiated the distribution of fans and cold water for front-of-house staff, the relaxation of uniform guidelines, and the closure of galleries that reach 30C or above”.
There were some gallery closures at the V&A but most areas remained open including the British Galleries on level one; a spokesperson did not respond to a request for further comment at the time of writing. All four Tate galleries, including Tate Modern, and the Royal Academy of Arts in London did not cut opening hours earlier this week.
The “Strategic Foresight: How to survive an era of uncertainty” section of the 2021 TrendsWatch report discusses some of the many “cataclysms” that have been stacking up against institutions in recent years: climate disasters, economic crises, social/cultural disruptions, political turbulence, and technological threats. While the museum education world has been responding to these things for many years now, either through planning or direct reaction, TrendsWatch suggests that we may need to rethink our methods.
To truly prepare for the future, the report’s author Elizabeth Merritt argues, we should embrace the discipline of “strategic foresight”—a process that requires “fundamental shifts in how we assess risk, navigate uncertainty, and create strategies that can succeed no matter what transpires.” By following a plan of “scanning, exploring implications, creating visions, and making choices,” she says, institutions of any size can learn to “manage uncertainty and prepare flexible, adaptive responses.”
This structured approach can be especially useful in planning for a cataclysm like climate change, with its broad extent, significant impact, and plethora of unknowns. Already, some museums have started to demonstrate this. The Climate Museum, a non-profit and “the first museum dedicated to climate change and climate solutions in the United States,” has laid out some practical ways for institutions to take action, while other institutions have acted by hiring for positions that specifically respond to climate change. Take, for example, the Royal Ontario Museum’s (ROM) recent hiring of Dr. Soren Brothers as the Allan and Helaine Shiff Curator of Climate Change—a position that is partially devoted to weaving “evidence-based research and knowledge into ROM programming, exhibitions, and education [in order to] raise awareness and inspire ecological citizenship and action on the climate emergency and sustainability.” As a representative of one of Canada’s largest museums, Dr. Brothers has stated that he would like to provide community resources and work on climate adaptation and mitigation.
While most teams would likely benefit from having someone in a position like this, dedicating an entire staff role to these issues is a privilege that not all are able to afford. So, at a smaller scale than the ROM, what are some things that educators can do to help plan for climate change?
One good example of a simpler plan put into action is the partnership program between Vermont Urban and Community Forestry (VT UCF) and several museums located throughout the state. Working with the Vermont Institute of Natural Science, the Montshire Museum of Science, the North Branch Nature Center, the Birds of Vermont Museum, and the Southern Vermont Natural History Museum, the organization created a collection of interpretive signs to display at various locations that addressed an issue partly connected to climate change: the spread of invasive species.
“We were trying to think of creative ways to educate the public about the signs and symptoms of the pest,” said Ginger Nickerson, a Forest Pest Education Coordinator who works in education and outreach at VT UCF. “We knew that it was a matter of time before the infestation would be state-wide, but we wanted to slow the spread as much as possible to give municipalities time to plan for the loss of their ash trees.”
VT UCF partnered with the museums in order to effectively reach its desired audience. “Since so many people visit our museums, museums and nature centers seemed like natural partners for reaching a broad audience of both residents and visitors,” Ginger explained.
We asked her what advice she would offer to any institutions looking to execute their plans and create similar content or programming surrounding issues such as climate change or the emerald ash borer. She shared that working with previously known artists and museums in their community was key—a blueprint that many institutions could follow within their own networks.
Other museums, particularly those with extensive outdoor properties or that focus on local conservation, might want to follow their lead when it comes to awareness and advocacy around invasive species. If so, the USDA’s resources can be a helpful place to start.
Support from the community helped buoy two museums in Delaware following a historic flooding event. The remnants of Hurricane Ida made their way into the region early in September 2021, ultimately reaching twenty-three feet above flood stage in the Brandywine River Creek. This one-hundred-year rainfall event flooded two museums situated on the creek—The Brandywine River Museum of Art and Hagley Museum and Library.
“No works of art were harmed in this event, but the museum was closed for three months and there was significant damage to a multipurpose program space, some office and storage areas, and to other buildings that house offices on the museum’s campus,” said Mary Cronin, Dean of Education and Public Programs with the Brandywine River Museum of Art. The museum was later able to reopen in December thanks to federal and state relief funds, donations from the community, and its relationship with the nearby Brandywine Conservancy, where it relocated some of its operations temporarily as it repurposed its spaces for programming.
In addition to sharing physical space, the museum and conservancy have continued their ongoing educational collaboration, where the museum incorporates the work of the conservancy’s riparian-zone restoration and understanding of the ecological landscape into its programming and exhibitions to explore the intersectionality of art and nature. This partnership helps the museum strengthen its approach to discussing topics such as climate change with its audience, which Mary says “will have even more relevance now, based on Brandywine’s recent history.”
Hagley Museum and Library was poised to return to semi-normal museum operations following pandemic closures when the remnants of Hurricane Ida made their way to the region. Then, its staff’s months-long work to reestablish school programs and install a brand-new exhibit, set to open in September, was put to a stop. Mike Adams, Director of Museum and Audience Engagement at the Hagley, said that “probably the biggest thing we learned is that every museum should be preparing for weather-related disasters regardless of location.” The Hagley had never experienced flooding like this in its 220-year history, and staff have the records to prove it.
Now, this experience has them rethinking their operational layout. “To mitigate the effects of future disasters—it’s not ‘if,’ but ‘when’—we are relocating our utility systems to ‘high ground,’” Mike shared. Utility systems, storage, the structural integrity of their historic buildings—they are looking over everything to ensure a future event will not wreak nearly the same level of losses and damage. Furthermore, they are also learning to account for the long-term effects such an event can have. Early in spring of 2022, months after the flooding, they were able to begin the process of dredging areas deeply affected by the storm, and with certain areas unsafe to enter, their school programs have been limited.
Both the Hagley and Brandywine River Museum of Art have been able to welcome back visitors with changes to day-to-day operations while repairs are underway to flooded areas, which they aim to reopen in 2022. But they do not intend to put the experience behind them. This was not the first time in recent memory the Brandywine has significantly flooded. Hurricane Floyd in 1999 brought seventeen feet of water, and a significant rainfall event in May 2014 brought twenty-one feet. “The flood in 2014 was described as a ‘once every hundred years’ flood,” Mike said. “Seven years later the Brandywine beat its old record by 15 percent. … Going forward I don’t think we’ll be surprised when the next flood comes. The question will be about how quickly we can repair, recover, and reopen.” With such events becoming a question not of if but when, these institutions, and others like them along floodplains, will need to devise strategies to reduce the likelihood of a repeat performance.
To kickstart these strategies, the respective museum boards are engaged in ongoing discussions with local experts, such as the Water Resource Center at the University of Delaware. The center’s comprehensive report comes with steps the region could take to mitigate such disasters in the future, and the leadership and board of the Brandywine Museum of Art are engaged in talks for protecting their respective surrounding areas along the Brandywine River while making improvements to their facilities.
Climate change has the potential to deliver heavier, more impactful storms that may lead to historic flooding events in the near future. At any moment one’s plans may be diverted due to changing conditions. Mary concluded by saying this event has solidified her view that museum educators must possess “the ability to be flexible, to adapt to changing conditions, and to develop programs that explore current topics through both contemporary and historical works of art.” These “essential skills for any museum educator” will ensure a level of preparedness as museums move to address trends that may disrupt their work.
Mike urges all museums to learn about FEMA. “Since all museums should expect to face some kind of weather-related disaster, every museum professional, especially museum leaders, should learn about FEMA before they need it,” he said. He recommends museums start forming connections with their state and local disaster preparedness and response agencies now, and collect contact information for firms that work in areas like restoration and structural engineering so the process of hiring them is easier when needed.
Even better than preparing for a swift response if a flood comes, museums can forecast how likely one is to come with tools like updated flood risk maps. This way, they can start preventing damage before the water comes lapping at their door.
The TrendsWatch report states that an important part of implementing strategic foresight is identifying the trends and events that could have the biggest impact on an institution and its community. Particularly when it comes to climate change, this means considering scenarios that might seem unlikely now. Mike quipped, “If someone told me six months ago that we’d have to worry about a hurricane traveling fifteen hundred miles from the Gulf of Mexico up and over the Appalachian Mountains, slowing down in Southeast Pennsylvania, and causing historic flooding in Delaware, I wouldn’t have believed them.”
No matter the size or location of your institution, to prepare for the issues that climate change will be bringing your way, you might ask yourself some basic questions like: What about climate change stands to most affect my institution? How can my institution address climate issues through education and interpretation?Answering questions like these could help provide the preparedness that both you and your audience need. Whether your issues are invasive species, flooding, or something else, following the strategic foresight process laid out by TrendsWatch could help your institution navigate to the best possible outcome.
Reposted from NPR
When the Kentucky Legislature started mulling a bill that would tighten control over public libraries earlier this year, librarians across the state called their lawmakers pushing for its defeat.
In the past, legislators would at least have heard them out, says Jean Ruark, chair of the advocacy committee of the Kentucky Library Association. Not this time.
"It seemed as though our efforts fell on deaf ears. There was a big outcry about the passage of that and they did it anyway," Ruark says.
At a time when public school libraries have increasingly become targets in the culture wars, some red states are going further, proposing legislation aimed at libraries serving the community as a whole. A few of the bills would open librarians up to legal liability over decisions they make.
While some of these bills have quietly died in committee, others have been signed into law, and librarians worry that the increasingly partisan climate is making them vulnerable to political pressure.
"We're seeing more indirect efforts to control what's available to the community or to put in laws that would direct how the library staff collects books," says Deborah Caldwell Stone, director of the American Library Association's Office for Intellectual Freedom.
"A lot of this legislation is really concerning, largely because of the breadth and scope of it, but also because it removes local control from communities," says Patrick Sweeney, executive director at EveryLibrary, an advocacy group that tracks the legislation.
The bill passed in Kentucky allows local library boards to be appointed by county officials. Sponsors argued that the move makes libraries, which are funded by local property taxes, more accountable to taxpayers.
But opponents say the legislation will undermine the independence of local librarians, which are supposed to serve the public as a whole.
"It's giving all of this power to partisan elected officials in counties, and if their constituents start telling them they want to ban books, this would allow them to do it. This is incredibly dangerous," says Kentucky state Rep. Patti Minter, a Democrat who opposed the bill.
The bill was first passed by the Republican-controlled legislature and vetoed by Gov. Andy Beshear, a Democrat. But Republicans were able to muster enough additional support to override the veto, and the bill takes effect at the start of 2023.
Other states have reached further. In Iowa, a bill was proposed allowing city councils to overturn librarians' decisions about what books to buy and where they're displayed.
In Oklahoma, a bill was signed into law requiring public libraries to install filters on digital databases to prevent children from seeing obscene material. Anyone who deliberately flouts the law would face legal liability.
Most libraries already have filters in place, and Oklahoma state Rep. Todd Russ, a Republican, says he expects the bill to rarely if ever result in legal action.
"We're trying to be good partners here, he says. "We're not trying to create all these class action lawsuits. We want to work with them to help create good protection, common sense stuff."
But other states, including Iowa and Idaho, have proposed similar bills, stripping away the legal immunity that librarians have traditionally enjoyed for the decisions they make.
Moreover, legal actions against librarians are not unheard of.
Parents in one Wyoming county recently filed criminal complaints with the local sheriff arguing that library staff members were "pandering obscenity" to minors because they carried books on LGBTQ themes, says Caldwell-Stone. After an investigation, the local prosecutor decided not to press charges.
LGBTQ books typically generate the most controversy, especially in rural areas, says Caldwell-Stone. The mayor of Ridgeland, Mississippi, cut funding for the local libraries earlier this year after complaining about "sexual content" in some material featured by the library.
His decision made headlines, and money poured into the library through a crowdfunding campaign that more than made up for the money lost.
But libraries can't depend on such campaigns long-term, and librarians such as Ruark worry that in the current political climate, the pressure on them is only going to turn up.
"I think people are concerned about what it's going to do," she says, "but they also feel powerless to make it be any different."
Reposted from MSN
Two Brummie Muslim men visiting the British Museum have spoken out about their appalling experience after a member of security staff singled them out to ask them 'where the ticker was' to set off a bomb and the 'stick of dynamite'. The questions shocked the pair who levelled an accusation of Islamophobia at the guard.
Altaf Kazi, Birmingham based head of partnerships and community engagement the Blood Transfusion Service, and colleague Umar Malik, the organisation's partnerships manager, were on a work 'awayday' to London when the shocking encounter happened. (Thursday 30 June) Their bags were being checked when the security guard asked each of them in turn about 'bombs'.
Speaking to BirminghamLive, Mr Kazi, 37, said: "There were four colleagues waiting in a line. Two of my colleagues went before me and checked their bags in, with no questions asked.
"When it was my time to put my bag on the table, the security man opened my bag and said: ‘where’s the ticker?’ He then said: ‘You shouldn’t be killing all of humanity but saving all of humanity’."
His colleague Mr Malik then walked up for his security check and was asked: “Where’s the stick of dynamite?” In a post on his LinkedIn profile, Mr Kazi said he was stunned to be quizzed like this.
"Both of us walked away totally shocked at what had been said. Literally, we laughed and discussed 'did that just happen?' Once we got over that shock, we reported it to the information desk and spoke to management. They were mortified about what we had just experienced and acted on it immediately."
He added: "Another colleague saw how we responded and then told us how, on a stall yesterday, he was told to go back to where he belonged. Same s**t, different day."
Mr Kazi, from Handsworth Wood, said: "After the incident happened me and my colleague were discussing whether we should raise this as an issue or not. Then we remembered this quote: "What you're willing to walk past is the standard you accept."
"This made us speak to the information desk and raise our voice. Even the lady at the desk was mortified of what she was hearing. Our first reaction was disbelief and then it settled in. We need to make sure we are always reporting these incidents no matter who you are and what you do.
"We were thinking that if we walk past this incident what does that mean for us, do we accept it? And we shouldn’t."
Today the British Museum said they apologised for the incident. “On Thursday 30 June, visitors to Museum experienced inappropriate behaviour at our search facility. They immediately reported the incident and a senior security manager swiftly attended and discussed the matter with them, apologising on behalf of the Museum.
"Whilst they chose not to make a formal complaint, we took the matter seriously as we do not tolerate inappropriate behaviour and took rapid steps to address the situation with the employee concerned. The Museum is an inclusive space for all communities and we would like to reiterate our sincere apologies for their experience.”
The exchange triggered a shocked response when it was shared on Twitter and LinkedIn. Saidul Haque Saeed, Citizens UK Birmingham community organiser, replied: "The brazen nature of this. Not an ounce of worry about the consequence of saying this to someone." While communications consultant Hasan Patel added: "British Museum, I do hope you take action and look into what took place. Any form of racism is not acceptable."
A recent survey into public attitudes towards different ethnic and faith groups by the University of Birmingham found Muslims are the UK’s second ‘least liked’ group, after Gypsy and Irish Travellers, with 25.9% of the British public feeling negative towards Muslims.
Facing discrimination at work shakes your confidence, no matter your gender. But the psychological consequences of gender discrimination affect men and women differently.
According to research by the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business, as published in the Academy of Management Journal, gender discrimination affects women’s self-efficacy—one’s confidence in the ability to carry out work tasks—by reinforcing perceived assumptions about women’s lack of competence or suitability for leadership roles.
The researchers found that low self-efficacy is associated with low motivation, disengagement from work tasks, and other negative outcomes that can impact women’s careers and outcomes within the organization.
Disengaged workers have 37 percent higher absenteeism, 49 percent more accidents, and make 60 percent more errors, according to a study by Queens School of Business and the Gallup Organization.
Approximately 42 percent of U.S. women have experienced discrimination at work because of their gender, according to a 2017 Pew Research Center report, and women are more likely than men to believe they have been treated as if they are incompetent, earn less pay than male counterparts for the same work, receive less support from senior leaders, or be passed over for important assignments.
The Marshall School of Business research found that men also experience perceived gender discrimination at work, although the majority of cases resulted from a belief that organizations are likely to discriminate against men to reduce discrimination against women—passing over a qualified man for a leadership position in favor of a woman candidate instead, for example.
“Anyone who is not confident in their abilities will never likely achieve their ultimate potential, feel proud of their contributions, or grow their skills to the extent they could,” Deb Boelkes, author of Women on Top: What’s Keeping You From Executive Leadership, told the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). In addition, she added that if gender discrimination goes unresolved, it could create a toxic work environment that could undermine the organization as a whole.
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