INTERNATIONAL FOUNDATION FORCULTURAL PROPERTY PROTECTION
Reposted from ABC7 Chicago
Chicago's DuSable Museum has turned over hate mail letters to the U.S. Secret Service they received shortly after President Joe Biden's inauguration.
DuSable is America's oldest museum dedicated to African American history and culture.
"It's just essential people know what we are dealing with," said Perri Irmer, president and CEO of the DuSable Museum.
Days after President Biden's inauguration, Irmer said she received mail that had the president's image and a funeral banner, as well as latter warning the first lady to leave the White House in three days and leave Washington.
Irmer said the museum has received six of these types of letters in total.
"It is incredible at this time, with all the things we are dealing with, that a museum or any other cultural institution would be targeted this way," she said.
Irmer said the museum now has increased security at a time when they are already struggling. The pandemic has forced them to lay off staff. Irmer hopes to get federal funding to help with security costs.
"It's important that people are aware of this need and this targeting because today it may be the DuSable Museum of African American history, tomorrow it could be anybody else," she said.
The DuSable Museum is scheduled to reopen on June 19, with not only extra COVID protocols but now more safety measures.
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Reposted from AAM
Since 1981, the Museum Assessment Program (MAP) has been assisting small and mid-sized museums in their quest to achieve best practices and national standards. The process begins with an application to AAM for one of the assessments, followed by a self-study evaluation and an on-site visit by a peer reviewer. As a peer reviewer, I have assisted a number of museums through the MAP program. After an intensive on-site visit, the peer reviewer submits a final written report emphasizing the strengths of the museum and where improvements are needed. The museum uses the report, with its recommendations, for strategic planning. The ultimate goal is to strengthen the museum to better serve its constituents and communities. All of this revolves around the museum’s mission statement and the implementation of that statement. A core area for measuring how successfully the museum implements its mission is disaster preparedness and emergency response, the two areas I will share tips on in this post.
When I began to write this piece, I concentrated on the fiduciary responsibility museums and museum staffs have to hold their collections in public trust, and how part of that trust is ensuring a safe environment for the collections, staff, and visitors. But I was struggling with how to include all the necessary documents, instructions, and scenarios for disaster preparedness and emergency responses. The words were difficult to come by, and the more I tried the worse the piece began to sound. I then called upon a colleague and dear friend of mine to get his opinion. I read what I wrote, and he listened appreciatively. I expressed my concern the piece sounded too academic, and more like a report. His reply was, “Don, remember when you were recruiting me to be a MAP peer reviewer?” I said, “Yes, I do.” He said, “You gave me a piece of advice I have never forgotten. You said, ‘Keep it simple and keep it practical.’ You have forgotten your own advice.”
That cleared the mental log jam, and gave me a fresh start. Of course, we know what our responsibilities are as museum professionals: the safety of our collections and the physical safety of staff and visitors. Many books, articles, and other sources of information on disaster preparedness and emergency response are available on AAM’s website as well as the websites of other professional associations.
Most of the MAP assessments I conduct are for small and midsize history museums, historic sites, and house museums located in small communities; communities where everyone pretty much knows everyone else. For museums like this, planning for a disaster is often a question of resources. For that reason, rather than dwell on the particulars of what makes a good plan, I will concentrate on how to acquire the resources to execute one if necessary, particularly if the museum is on a limited budget in a small town.
The list of potential emergencies and disasters is far greater than the space allowed for in this piece. The sections below represent common emergencies and disasters I have reported about in my assessments.
Water, or the threat of rising water, is a concern for many museums. The threat may be a nearby river, heavy downpours, or a burst pipe. If there is a nearby cold storage/freezer facility, become friends with the owner or manager. They could provide free freezing services to preserve wet documents until proper conservation is arranged.
If your facility is in a flood-prone area or an area susceptible to hurricanes, take proactive preparatory measures before disaster strikes. Purchase heavy-duty plastic sheeting in rolls. You can cut rolls of this heavy sheeting to fit over collection storage shelving. Your local home improvement store may donate these rolls or sell them to you at their cost.
While at the home improvement store, talk with the owner or general manager to arrange for sand and sandbags. Again, these items may be donated or sold at cost to your organization. Take the time now to fill the sandbags, staging them near doors to prevent flood waters from entering your building.
If your facility is in a hurricane zone, measure the windows and buy sheets of plywood to fit each window, as well as screws. Mark each board with the window it fits and keep a record of which board fits which window. Hurricane warnings are usually given with enough time to board up the windows and place sandbags at the doors. The ideal hurricane protection would be to install hurricane shutters.
In a hurricane-prone area, purchasing a generator would be a wise investment. A backup source of electricity is necessary if the power goes out for an extended period of time. The generator will keep the temperature and humidity levels stable enough to prevent damage to the collection from mold and mildew. You could approach a board member to offset the cost of the generator.
Become acquainted with local merchants who receive shipments in boxes. Ask them to give you the boxes for use as temporary storage of artifacts after a disaster. The boxes will not be acid-free, but they will only be used for a short duration as the collection status is determined. Your local moving and storage company may supply boxes as well as temporary storage space, if needed.
If you are located in an earthquake-prone zone, survey the collection storage area to determine if the shelving and the artifacts placed on it would be susceptible to damage. Consult with your local emergency personnel to determine the best way to store the artifacts. This may mean lowering the shelf height, or placing significant artifacts at a lower level or in a special room isolated from the rest of the collection.
While water damage is the number one potential disaster, the next-most-likely emergency is a visitor or staff member injuring themselves or needing medical attention. At least one staff member who is authorized to call emergency personnel must be on-site during all hours the museum is open, including public and non-public hours.
An incident report needs to be completed as soon as possible after the accident or injury. This report should include the name, address, phone numbers (home, work, and cell), and email address of the injured party, as well as the date and time of the incident, what happened, and the names and contact information of any witnesses. The staff member completing the report should sign and date the report, and electronically send a copy to the museum’s insurance carrier or agent.
Staff and volunteers need to be trained in first aid, CPR, and the use of a defibrillator. Perhaps a board member could provide the funds necessary to purchase the defibrillator and stock the first aid kit.
Contact the local American Red Cross office for classes on first aid, CPR, and the use of the defibrillator. The Red Cross may offer these classes at no charge to the museum.
The greatest potential disaster your facility and collections face is fire. Every staff member, volunteer, and board member needs to be familiar with the written evacuation plan for the building in the event of a fire. Fire drills should be conducted on a regular schedule to practice evacuating the building and accounting for everyone in the building.
Contact the local fire department and give the firefighters on every shift a tour of your facility. The tour should cover the entire building, including public, administrative, collections storage, and exhibit prep and shop areas. Tell the firefighters the most significant artifacts, documents, photographs, or paintings, and where are they located. Make sure the fire chief and fire marshall join the tour, so they can direct firefighters to these critical areas of the museum. Keep in mind that water-damaged artifacts and documents can be restored.
Reposted from OCCRP
Interpol introduced on Thursday a new app that can help law enforcement and the general public fight art and antiquities trafficking, the international police agency said in a statement.
Called ID-Art, the app uses sophisticated image recognition software which can identify whether an item is part of Interpol’s extensive database of known looted art and antiquities.
“In recent years we’ve witnessed the unprecedented ransack by terrorists of the cultural heritage of countries arising from armed conflict, organized looting and cultural cleansing,” said the agency’s Secretary General Jürgen Stock.
“This new tool is a significant step forward in enhancing the ability of police officers, cultural heritage professionals and the general public to protect our common heritage,” he added.
Police, customs officials, private collectors, art dealers and art enthusiasts will be able to instantly check if an object is among the more than 52,000 items currently registered with Interpol as stolen.
The illegal antiquities trade is a multi-billion dollar global industry according to a 2018 report by Standard Chartered Bank, and it’s beneficiaries are not just high society art aficionados, often the trade is a major funding source for criminal and militant groups on the supply side.
“You cannot look at it separately from combating trafficking in drugs and weapons. We know that the same groups are engaged, because it generates big money,” said Catherine de Bolle, Executive Director of Europol after a major crackdown on the illegal antiquities trade last year.
The looting of cultural property from active war zones, like Afghanistan, is considered a war crime under the 1954 Hague Convention.
Despite that fact, lax provenance requirements mean that looted and stolen pieces will often resurface on the legitimate market and find their way into major auction houses or the collections of famous museums.
Sometimes it happens unbeknownst to both buyer and seller, but sometimes not. Interpol hopes that the app will help remove excuses for ignorance.
“Interpol’s new ID-Art App is a major milestone in the international fight against the illicit trafficking of cultural property,” said Ernesto Ottone, UNESCO’s Assistant Director General for Culture.
“Indeed it is both preventive and reactive as it allows everyone to record cultural objects and sites into the app. This has the potential to improve due diligence practices with potential buyers of cultural artefacts,” he said.
Reposted from Allied Universal
It was not that long ago that disaster management professionals handled crises primarily through landlines and press conferences. Thankfully, over the past 10 years, technology has redefined global emergency management and disaster communications. One of the first national disasters to heavily rely on technology, according to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), was Hurricane Sandy, as users sent more than 20 million Sandy-related tweets.
Since people have embraced mobile technologies, it’s increasingly important for disaster management professionals to adopt a social media strategy as well as the ability to use multiple forms of technology to communicate and connect with an increasingly networked population. What’s more, building owners and managers as well as members of the public, should take advantage of the many ways technology can help them prepare for, survive, and recover after a disaster.
The American Red Cross offers free mobile apps that put lifesaving information at the user’s fingertips. The apps give people instant access to more than 35 customizable emergency weather alerts, as well as safety tips and preparedness information for 14 different types of emergencies and disasters. The Emergency App contains an “I’m Safe” feature, which helps people use social media to let loved ones know they are okay following an emergency. These apps have been downloaded over seven million times and have been credited with saving lives in Oklahoma, Texas and other states. Other Red Cross apps include Blood Donor, Earthquakes, First Aid, Flood, Hero Care, Hurricane, Pet First Aid, Radio Cruz Roja, Swim, Tornadoes, Transfusion Practice Guidelines and Wildfires.
Disaster Apps. While it would be virtually impossible to list every available disaster app, here are a few noteworthy options, available on Google Play as well as the Apple App Store: Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), FEMA, My Hurricane Tracker, National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), QuakeFeed, Storm Distance Tracker,and WeatherCaster.
Facebook offers a natural disaster page, which is set up so that people can check on loved ones, get updates about the developing situation, and look for information about how to help. Disaster Response on Facebook highlights tips, news, and information on how to prepare for, respond to and recover from natural disasters. Facebook users who like and follow the page can stay up to date and connected with affected communities around the world. They can also donate with the “Donate Now” call-to-action button, so nonprofits can connect with people who care about their causes and encourage them to contribute.
Twitter has emerged as a legitimate means of emergency communication for coordinating disaster relief. A 2015 study, What to Expect When the Unexpected Happens: Social Media Communications Across Crises, focused on 26 different crisis situations (such as earthquakes, floods, bombings, derailments and wildfires) for two years. The event which obtained the most Twitter attention at the time of the study was the Boston Marathon bombings, with 157,500 tweets. What’s more, Twitter Alerts provide trusted sources with a platform to disseminate accurate information to concerned parties in real time, and for those people to offer immediate feedback about the impact and hierarchy of needs relative to the associated disaster.
OneEvent is an algorithm developed by a small startup in Wisconsin. For a monthly subscription fee, OneEvent detects household disasters like fires and floods up to 20 minutes before they happen. The software-based approach uses sensors to monitor things like heat and humidity in key areas of the subscriber’s home. If things start to deviate from the norm due to a leaky pipe or a hot oven, the system will catch it, let the user know, and learn from the situation.
Online Fire Life Training systems, which provide subscribers with access to information about emergency and disaster prevention, management and recovery. A leader in the field is Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Training Systems. The fully-automated system allows property management companies to manage one site or an entire portfolio, with all users in the same system. Subscribers get access to training for building occupants, floor wardens, and fire safety directors. All user training and testing is recorded. Building-specific information is sent to first responders for immediate access during emergencies.
Remember that safety is important for everyone across continents. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the Allied Universal Fire Life Training System, which has been designed to help improve and save lives.
Reposted from Art Sentry
Why Humans Have Been Inspired to Create Art Throughout History
Art has long been a part of human culture, inspiring others and providing insight into moments of history.
From the first cave drawings to modern works of art, it is curious why this urge to create has pervaded humanity even in difficult circumstances. All the while being seen as an unnecessary luxury since it is explored for reasons outside of pure survival.
Art in its many forms comes in times of peace, honoring great victories and joyous moments of the times. It also comes in times of strife, as if to remind the future of calamity and how desperate and hopeless it sometimes felt to those who lived through it.
Still, art remains one of man’s constant needs despite the environment or circumstances. This urge to create is said to be the soul and expression of humanity, immortalizing moments in ways that written moments could never convey.
How Museums Encourage Creativity and Art Today
Museums display these priceless works of art and inspire creativity in visitors by providing a look into an artist’s muse of the past.
These pieces of frozen time enable visitors to learn about the circumstances around the art, and how the artist unraveled the medium’s potential, harnessing it to create emotionally evocative pieces.
The Emotional and Mental Health Benefits of Art
The emotional response brought about by art in museums, along with the history of the artist and intent behind the piece, can bring clarity and perspective into the individual’s life.
Art stimulates the imagination, reduces stress, enhances problem-solving, and keeps the mind sharp and observant. Additionally, it raises self-esteem and provides a sense of accomplishment and well-being.
To those most fortunate in times of wealth and prosperity, there is no question that art would arise after their basic personal needs were met.
Still, art was created in practically all circumstances of history. Artists of long-ago created art with the tools at their disposal, perhaps contemplating, with the art, their own sense of hope and individuality where there was otherwise none.
The Museum Itself Can Promote Emotional Well-being
A conventional museum setting is quiet, orderly, and calm. It is well-lit without being harsh, and colors blend into the background so that the art draws the eye instead.
This serene atmosphere can, according to studies, help promote mental and emotional well-being, even if the visitor paid no attention to the art displayed within the museum’s walls. Museums provide more than just a shelter for historical artifacts, but a place where visitors can escape the fast-paced world around them.
Art museums play a critical role in maintaining and even enhancing the positive well-being of individuals, which can lead to a higher level of happiness and quality of life. Groups of healthier and happier individuals would surely provide multiple benefits to Society as a whole.
Protect Your Displays with Art Sentry
Art Sentry provides maximum museum security for 24/7 reassurance, protecting priceless artifacts and irreplaceable works of art while preserving the guest experience.
Reposted from La Prensa Latina
With this year’s Atlantic hurricane season to begin on June 1, Miami’s Vizcaya Museum on Tuesday unveiled a new system to protect against flooding caused by tropical storms and hurricanes.
The museum, located quite near the salt water and featuring huge outside gardens, presented the Tiger Dam system consisting of rubber cylinders that can be filled with water and placed on top of one another to create a barrier up to 9.7 meters (32 feet) high.
As the museum’s assistant director for horticulture and urban agriculture, Ian Simpkins, told EFE, installing the new system was approved as a result of the “millions of dollars” of damage the museum and its grounds suffered in 2017 due to Hurricane Irma.
At the unveiling of the protective system, museum authorities showed a video of the completely flooded outside gardens and the damage to the museum’s restaurant.
Vizcaya is the first site in Florida to use this system, although other states are already employing it.
The beautiful buildings and gardens were built between 1914 and 1923 by businessman James Deering, who made his fortune in agribusiness and decided to build a winter home in Miami.
With furnishings dating from the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th centuries, the house is surrounded by classical and exquisitely manicured gardens that are reminiscent of the typical estates of the landed gentry in Italy and France, and they extend all the way to Biscayne Bay.
Originally, the estate covered 180 acres (73 hectares), although that has been reduced to 50 acres (20 hectares) at present, given that the family ceded part of the land to a charitable hospital and to the local Catholic archdiocese.
The upcoming Atlantic hurricane season will be the first to reflect the new average storm activity in the region prepared by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
The new averages for the Atlantic hurricane season – taking into account the activity over the 30-year period between 1991 and 2020 – are for 14 named storms and seven hurricanes.
The prior averages, based on data gathered between 1981 and 2010, were for 12 named storms and six hurricanes, NOAA said.
The average of three Category 3, 4 or 5 storms on the 5-point Saffir-Simpson scale remains unchanged from the earlier period.
Maria Torres, a meteorologist with the National Hurricane Center, recently urged the public to make preparations in advance for the storm season and to take into account the mortal danger posed by flooding from storm surge in Miami’s low-lying environment.
She said that sometimes people take storm flooding lightly and many fatalities have occurred in recent years due to storm surge.
Colorado State University said that the 2021 season should bring storm activity in escess of the annual average, with 17 tropical storms developing in the Atlantic Basin.
CSU’s annual forecast is for eight hurricanes, four of which will be major storms with sustained winds of at least 170 kilometers (105 miles) per hour.
Reposted from Artnet News
An organized march against the Museum of Modern Art’s (MoMA) board ended in a heated standoff between demonstrators and security guards at the entrance to the institution last Friday, April 30. Two security guards and one protestor were reportedly injured in the incident.
The march marked the fourth in a series of 10 “Strike MoMA” demonstrations organized by a coalition of activist groups that have united under the name the International Imagination of Anti-National Anti-Imperialist Feelings (IIAAF). About 40 people took part, according to the New York Times.
Accompanied by a police escort, the protestors marched through midtown New York, making stops in front of BlackRock, the investment company owned by controversial MoMA trustee Larry Fink, and the luxury residential buildings that make up “Billionaires’ Row,” before concluding at MoMA.
There, in a gesture against the museum’s $25 entrance fee, they attempted to enter the venue, but were denied by the venue’s security.
“As we arrived, MoMA was converted into a high-security fortress,” the activist group said in an email. “Doors were locked from the inside by other guards. Outside guards used their bodies to obstruct the entrances. The reason we were given repeatedly is this, we quote: ‘We cannot permit you to protest inside.’”
Representatives from the group told Artnet News that they sent MoMA director Glenn Lowry a letter a week prior, warning museum administration of their plans to enter the building, and to refuse to pay. (A copy of the letter was shared with Artnet News.) MoMA never responded to the letter, they said.
“We anticipated a peaceful protest,” a MoMA press officer told Artnet News, “and we were prepared to respect and accommodate the protesters’ activity, so long as they respected New York State’s and City’s COVID-19 health and safety requirements of masking, social-distancing, and temperature screening. They refused to do so, repeatedly threatened Museum frontline staff, and said they would force their way in. Museum security personnel closed the entrance in accordance with established safety protocols because the protesters chose not to act safely or peacefully.”
The representative said that two museum security officers were “seriously injured” during the altercation. One was hit with a stick and bitten, the museum alleges, while the other had to be hospitalized after being pushed into a revolving door.
“The Museum will always act to protect the health and safety of our staff and visitors,” the representative added. “The actions we saw on Friday are never acceptable and will not be tolerated.”
Hyperallergic reported that one protestor, who also worked as an educator at MoMA for eight years, said she was struck repeatedly in the face by a museum security guard. Asked by Artnet News about the incident, Strike MoMA wrote, “We have no additional details about any injuries sustained beyond what the media reported on.”
Strike MoMA was organized in opposition to the alleged “toxic philanthropy” of the museum’s trustees, including Black, who announced in March that he would not seek re-election as the museum’s chairman following a public controversy over his connections to convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
Citing the research of MoMA Divest, Strike MoMA’s manifesto targets five museum board members—Steven Cohen, Glenn Dubin, Larry Fink, and Steven Tananbaum, in addition to Black—over their alleged “ties to war, racist prison and border enforcement systems, vulture fund exploitation, gentrification and displacement of the poor, extractivism and environmental degradation, and patriarchal forms of violence.”
Six more demonstrations are scheduled, happening each Friday until June 11.
In a public statement issued by IIAAF this weekend, the group condemned “MoMA leadership’s attempt to distort the nature of the confrontation at the museum.”
“The supposed threat was a group of artist dissidents, acting in the spirit of creative revolt that the museum loves to celebrate on the walls of its galleries,” the statement went on. “It’s time to put an end to this hypocrisy. Too many in our arts communities have learned to turn a blind eye to the gruesome capture of the art world by financial high-rollers with low morals. It’s not too late to stop the plunder, and remember, the fish rots from the head down.”
Reposted from Security Magazine
In March 2020, thieves pulled off a smash-and-grab job in the dead of the night, stealing Vincent van Goghs’s masterpiece, The Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring 1884, from Netherland’s Singer Laren museum, exploiting the museum’s recent closure to help contain the spread of COVID-19. Around 3:15 a.m., the thieves smashed a glass door at the entrance, triggered an alarm system, and successfully stole the painting before law enforcement arrived.
Much like Singer Laren, other museums, galleries, libraries and cultural institutions in charge of protecting valuable and cultural assets remain temporarily closed due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. In fact, 90% of the world’s museums or more than 85,000 in number, have temporarily closed their doors to protect the health and safety of staff and visitors, and nearly 13% of museums worldwide may never reopen after the COVID-19 shutdown, according to research by UNESCO and the International Council of Museums (ICOM).
The burglary and theft at Singer Laren garnered attention of museum directors and security staff, particularly as the lack of crowds and physical security presence potentially compromised by staffing issues during the virus outbreak may present an invitation to opportunistic thieves, as reported by the Washington Post. And, while these facilities continue to maintain 24-hour security operations with increased monitoring of all facilities and property, thieves may think these facilities are in a weakened condition, increasing the threat level.
To maintain a unified security and safety operation during closure, many museums and cultural heritage institutions have relied on tried-and-true security and risk management practices, and repurposed their time and energy to reassess, monitor and explore additional risk-mitigation measures to safely reopen and welcome the public back through their doors.
It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on the arts and culture community. Self-isolation measures placed during COVID represent a major challenge for arts and museum security professionals who must continue to ensure the security of facilities, assets and art collections. Tried-and-true safety and security measures have proven highly valuable during this time, says Kevin Wilkes, Chief Security Officer for the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.
As one of the city’s largest property owners in the Pittsburgh downtown area, the Trust is responsible for more than one million square feet of property and is a major economic driver of business in the Cultural District with an estimated annual economic impact of $303 million serving as an anchor institution for other dining, parking, retail, residential and entertainment businesses.
At the Trust, Wilkes is responsible for the development of all security and safety policies, programs and procedures designed to protect the Trust, its staff, patrons, guests and property and liability exposure. He manages the 24-hour, 365-days-a-year security presence in all Trust facilities and grounds by utilizing personnel and video surveillance.
Wilkes also leads a team comprised of the Vice President of Operations, Chief Information Officer, facility managers, technology security personnel, risk management personnel and external security contractors, to develop and manage all security and safety policies, programs and procedures for the 14-block campus located within Downtown Pittsburgh. The Trust campus supports nine performing arts locations, five visual arts/gallery locations, and a host of outdoor public art spaces.
The Trust hosts approximately two million visitors annually to its various performing and visual arts exhibitions and artistic festivals. “Our risks run the gambit from incidents of mass attack, property crime, street crime, acts of workplace violence, employee dishonesty, weather-related risks, civil unrest, theft, vandalism, crowd control and management, suspicious activity/threats, and more,” says Wilkes. “Our Cultural District neighborhood is really a city within a city and our community is impacted by all those risks you would expect to see in such a diverse and dynamic setting.”
Securing a large footprint is no easy task, and can be extremely challenging for a local non-profit to manage. “However, the protection of our art galleries and public art displays is of paramount importance to the Trust, even during the pandemic,” Wilkes explains. “The protection of these spaces factors in heavily with our security mission of implementing protective measures to help assure the comfort and enjoyment of guests as they experience our visual art locations and outdoor public art area.”
And while indoor art galleries at the Trust remain shuttered due to COVID-19, outdoor public art locations are open, free to the public, and are readily accessible for all to enjoy. Like most organizations, the Trust utilizes a myriad of protection practices to safeguard its people, guests, events, and properties – all of which help Wilkes and his security team to form a comprehensive strategy of layered defense which uses a well-balanced mixture of both hard and soft protection practices.
According to Wilkes, these practices begin with a thorough security risk assessment to build protection methodologies and foundation upon, and then a periodic reassessment of practices on an ongoing basis to help “right-size” the security platform to ensure the security team meets their objectives or rethink their strategy and possibly redeploy resources elsewhere where better needed.
During the COVID-19 closure, Doug Beaver, CPP, Executive Director of Protection Services for the National Museum of Women in the Arts, has also relied on a wide spectrum of security functions including, but not limited to, security guard force management, risk and vulnerability assessments, and business continuity planning.
Located in the heart of Washington, D.C. and just blocks away from the White House, the National Museum of Women in the Arts frequently hosts high-profile events that dignitaries and high government officials, including the President and the Vice President of the U.S., attend. For these high-profile events, Beaver works closely with the U.S. Secret Service and coordinates with law enforcement advance protection teams in developing security plans for top quality concerts, films, staged readings and other performing arts events, visiting dignitaries, executive level government officials, heads of state, entertainers and world leaders.
Beaver oversees all aspects of the physical and technical security programs associated with a nearly 6,000-object collection and an 18,500-volume library and research center at the National Museum of Women in the Arts. His responsibilities include developing and implementing department policies, administering technical security systems, safety training programs, standard operating procedures, employee security awareness programs, disaster preparedness and emergency response plans.
The pandemic, Beaver says, introduced unexpected challenges relating to the sustainability of the entire cultural arts industry. “Establishing and deploying mitigating measures for COVID-19, is eerily similar to that of a bioterrorism response, and presents similar challenges. The SARS-CoV-2 has really heightened our nation's biological weapon profiles, spotlighted our vulnerabilities and placed the U.S. squarely on the international stage, which could have a profound effect down the road on our national security – it’s a serious concern that we all should be cognizant of.”
To keep up with this world of uncertainty, Beaver has leveraged his expertise in risk assessments to educate and inform C-suite decision-makers. Though they can be somewhat complicated, he uses a qualitative approach, boiling it down to three core elements: risk identification, risk analysis and risk evaluation. This methodology allows him to quickly prioritize and rank any security and safety risks, which is a necessity for mitigation. “The risk assessment ensures the security team can effectively carry out the important mission of protecting people, assets and information with professional expertise,” Beaver says.
According to Andy Davis, Owner and Managing Director of Trident Manor Limited, the risk assessment process for cultural institutions should be comprehensive. Having been involved in the audit, review and design of museums and other cultural venues for several years, he always encourages organizations in charge of the exhibition, conservation and management of cultural heritage to “consider the broader context.”
“Consider: What's happening socially around the building and around the venue? What's happening socially in the region? Are there any protests? Has there been any direct impact or threats against the museum or the venue? Have you suffered any losses or any damage? Have you collected and analyzed publicly available information and data for intelligence purposes? Taking all these aspects into account helps you build a picture and understand what is really taking place around your venue,” Davis says.
In turn, this helps with directing the organization’s risk tolerance and approach to risk management activities. Every museum or cultural heritage institution is unique, faces different threats, has different short-term objectives and different resources available. “Understand that there is no one size fits all,” Davis explains.
Davis recommends a structured approach to assessing the threats that exist and the risks they pose. “Identity the threats that exist, from crime, to civil disturbances and warfare, natural catastrophes, industrial disasters, and any other threats which may result in loss, theft, or damage to the artifacts on display.”
Once all threats are understood, an evaluation of the risk each poses to the venue or facility can be undertaken. The nature of the threat is very much influenced by the attractiveness, value and portability of the collection, although the institution’s surroundings and any history of crime will also play a part. An institution that has suffered a burglary or robbery with the loss of some masterpieces from a collection that has other similar works should consider the potential threat from adversarial sources as being high, Davis explains.
“Our history and culture is preserved in museums,” Davis says. “Now, more than ever, operational security practices need to dovetail with physical and technical solutions to protect heritage and cultural institutions from attacks, particularly as the illicit trafficking of cultural property has been closely linked to organized crime and terrorism financing.”
Of particular concern over the last year for museums and cultural institutions has been rising extremism, continuing fallout from the pandemic, racial injustice and political issues – all which can drive an increase in violent threats toward institutions of all kinds, especially high-value and cultural targets.
“From a pandemic to a very heated national presidential election, to the sudden reawakening to the public of social injustice issues, and not to mention the rise of extremist nationalists inside our country, it was the perfect storm,” Wilkes says. “It created unique challenges that impacted organizations across the world. Museums and cultural heritage institutions were not exempt from that. These events alone, not to mention the always-present risk of possible attacks against places of mass gatherings is enough to cause any security professional to lose sleep. ”
The U.S. Capitol Riot on January 6, 2021 was particularly challenging for Beaver, as the National Museum of Women in the Arts is located in the epicenter of D.C. “We’re located just two blocks from the White House, which presents us with an ongoing heightened threat environment,” Beaver says. “That threat is exacerbated by the fact that we are the only museum of its kind in the world, one that recognizes and honors women artists.”
As a result, the museum has maintained an ongoing mindset of heightened awareness. “In terms of preparing for social unrest, one of the key factors is the early recognition of aberrant behavior through effective screening processes. It’s critically important to identify individuals exhibiting behavioral anomalies early that could ultimately present a threat to your institution and staff, your staff, visitors and its assets,” Beaver explains.
Beaver incorporates behavioral pattern recognition, a tactical tool for detection of suspicious and criminal behavior prior to an attack – a technique he perfected while working with an Israeli risk management firm – into his training programs for his physical security team comprised of current and former law enforcement officers and a civilian guard force of approximately 50 officers. He says, “I’ve trained our officers to recognize behavior that is uncommon in a museum setting, and because aberrant behavior is out of place, it more times than not, can lead to undesirable outcomes.”
Training should be ongoing for museum protection personnel, who should receive enhanced training in security, fire prevention, and first aid skills, Davis says.
Most importantly, safety and security training in a museum should apply to everyone. “Once a policy is established regarding access, perimeter, or other security measures particularly those implemented during the lockdown, no one, including the director, trustees, donors, staff, etc., should be exempt or excluded from rules or safeguards due to the rank, education, or job function,” he says.
All employees that have access to the building or the collection or who have contact with the public or visitors - including those who volunteer or are members of affiliated groups or boards - should understand the various threats that exist, Davis suggests. “In addition to understanding the threat, everyone should be trained on situational awareness. If a staff member sees something that is suspicious, he or she is able to alert security and help along the security process. It helps build multiple layers of operational effectiveness.”
Davis suggests the right balance is when the protection is in place, but is low profile and effective. “It has to combine physical protection measures, technical solutions, operational practices and overall, internal education programs about steps and measures that should be taken so visitors can have an enjoyable experience, while protecting the organization, its people, and its assets.”
Wilkes and Beaver also maintain an excellent working relationship and partnership with local law enforcement. These strategic partnerships helps security leaders take further reasonable steps to reduce the risk of a reasonably foreseeable type of loss from occurring – whether from vandalism, theft, extortion, ransom, fire or disaster.
In Pittsburgh, Wilkes explains, some protests became chaotic and out of control, leading to some property damage to one of the Trust’s buildings within the downtown area. His relationship with law enforcement enabled him to maximize the security around the properties in advance of any potential problems associated with civil unrest, helping limit and minimize property damage. “We continue to maintain a good partnership with local law enforcement, as well as rely on outside cyber intelligence, threat assessment and analysis to help us take preemptive measures before incidents can occur and take steps to prevent unnecessary risk,” he says.
Beaver says he has established working relationships with federal law enforcement as well, particularly with the local the Department of Homeland Security fusion center. Fusion centers share threat-related information between State, Local, Tribal and Territorial, federal and private sector partners. “They provide me with intelligence resources through social media and dark web monitoring to assist us in proactively mitigating any potential threats that they identify as relevant to our institution.”
Overall, says Wilkes, security leaders must rely on public safety partnerships, cyber intelligence/threat assessment practices, and community outreach components to safeguard people, guests, assets and properties. “These resources help us preemptively identify any developing concerns that need monitoring and possibly deploy an appropriate intervention response, to hopefully deescalate the situation before it impacts the Trust or our stakeholders.”
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” Wilkes adds. “In my book, prevention beats response any day of the week. A security solutions formula that I have always attempted to follow during my career has been Awareness + Readiness + Prevention = Risk Reduction. This has always been a recipe for success and one I consistently turn to and rely upon.”
For museum security leaders, reestablishing and strengthening the three main focus areas have been restoring health and safety, strengthening business continuity and crisis management strategies, and creating a plan that allows the return to full business operations.
Because cultural institutions and museums rely on repetitive visitation, a key challenge for security leaders in this space is balancing the necessary measures of security for high-value and irreplaceable cultural artifacts, while maintaining an unrestricted and welcoming environment where the public can view and interact with the art.
As many of these institutions prepare to reopen to the public with major limitations, providing an environment that allows for the best possible visitor experience while ensuring the wellbeing of staff and visitors in a socially distanced world is a major concern.
“You want the public to feel comfortable and safe, but we’re trying to ensure that our collections are secure from any type of damage or vandalism,” Beaver says. “A heavy dose of interpersonal skills and visitor relations, aligned with policies and procedures will be more critical than ever.”
Observation skills will continue to be important as well. “As visitors interact with the art hanging on the wall or with sculptures, the physical security team has to be aware of every single potential hazard to the artwork and ensure visitors are complying with government mandates and meet the museum or venue’s specific safety measures implemented, such as avoiding the formation of groups, regulating flows, enforcing social distancing, enforcing hygiene, and providing temperature screening at the entrance,” Beaver explains.
At the Trust, Wilkes and his security team are preparing for The Three Rivers Arts Festival, the first large-scale public event in over a year. In addition to utilizing security technology and external public safety partnerships, he says, they will be deploying a public safety tent for this event which serves as their Forward Operating Base (FOB) for the two-week festival.
“We anticipate the need to utilize more volunteers and security persons to provide guidance to our guests inside of the festival’s new reimagined footprint this year and to help remind guests about our COVID health safety protocols (masks, social distancing, hand washing, guest entry times, festival area capacity limits, etc.),” Wilkes explains. “We will also be using more housekeeping (Clean Team) personnel to ensure we are properly disinfecting all high-touch areas and surfaces. We will utilize outside hand sanitization stations and make sure we have a COVID-isolation area onsite which is medically supplied with equipment and EMS personnel for those persons who may suddenly find themselves feeling ill or experiencing COVID-like symptoms.”
Another challenge museum and cultural institutions must consider is encountering resistance to policies. “There has been an increase in verbal confrontations between security staff, museum staff and visitors who don’t want to comply with the rules, such as the wearing of face masks, social distancing. Security teams will need to be trained on visitor care and conflict management. Resistance to policies need to be met and addressed with clear policies and procedures,” Davis says.
Overall, in addition to complying with orders and guidance from federal, state and local officials and the medical community, Beaver recommends organizations address employees’ COVID-19 questions and concerns and reassure staff of the steps that are being taken to protect everyone’s health and well-being. “This will help prepare our security teams in navigating the many changes they will face, and communicate organizational leadership’s compassion and empathy during these challenging, difficult times.”
For Wilkes, Beaver, and other museum security leaders alike, the main priority is letting visitors know it is OK to have fun again in a safe and responsible fashion. “Our job is to be responsible event organizers and facilitators of a healthy and safe guest experience,” Wilkes says.
Reposted from Harvard Business Review
Research has definitively shown that burnout is an organizational problem, not an individual one. But while responsibility for preventing employee burnout rests squarely on the shoulders of employers, remedying burnout once you’re suffering from it is much less straightforward. Studies show that external efforts to pull someone out of burnout — no matter how well intentioned — often fail. While this by no means recuses employers from taking accountability for supporting the mental health of their employees, our recent research suggests that when you’re feeling burned out, the best person to help you recover may be yourself.
Specifically, we conducted several studies exploring the most effective strategies for recovering from burnout, and identified a number of common trends:
First, our research confirmed the established finding that burnout is not a monolithic phenomenon, but rather, it can present as any combination of three distinct symptoms: exhaustion (a depletion of mental or physical resources), cynical detachment (a depletion of social connectedness), and a reduced sense of efficacy (a depletion of value for oneself). To recover from burnout, you must identify which of these resources has been depleted and take action to replenish those resources.
For example, when exhaustion is the primary source of burnout, we found that re-energizing acts of self-care are the most effective tool for recovery. In one study, we measured the impact of small acts of self-compassion among a sample of business school students during their highly stressful 10-day midterms period — a time in which both mental and physical exhaustion are common. Each morning, we gave participants one task for the day: on some mornings, we asked them to notice a challenge they would face that day and then treat themselves with compassion, while on other mornings, we asked them to think about and demonstrate compassion for another person. We found that engaging in self-care activities (such as a 10-minute meditation session, cooking a nice meal, or even taking a nap) correlated strongly with reduced levels of reported burnout the following day. These findings support the notion that self-care is not self-indulgent; on the contrary, taking a break and focusing on yourself is one of the best ways to combat exhaustion and burnout.
On the other hand, when burnout is due to cynicism, self-care may not be the most effective strategy. When feeling alienated, focusing on yourself may lead you to withdraw further, while being kind to others can help you regain a sense of connectedness and belonging in your community. In our study, we found that when participants were instructed to focus on alleviating others’ challenges, they did things like offering words of encouragement or taking a coworker out to lunch, and then reported lower levels of cynicism the next day. Even just taking a few minutes to comfort a colleague or listen to their concerns led to a reduction in burnout associated with cynicism.
Finally, when employees struggled with feelings of inefficacy, our research showed that acts focused on bolstering their positive sense of self were the most impactful. Interestingly, this can mean either self-compassion or compassion for others — the key is simply to accomplish something that will validate your own sense of personal value. For example, we found that external acts such as comforting a coworker led to increased self-esteem (especially if the coworker expressed gratitude), but so did internally-focused achievements, such as completing a workout session or finishing a project.
In addition, our research illustrated the fact that agency is essential. To effectively overcome burnout, employees must feel empowered to take control over their own lives and decisions. For example, if an employee is feeling burned out because of a lack of social connections, there are steps managers can take to alleviate that — but past research has shown that such interventions are tricky to execute: They’re often ineffective, and they may even increase the burden on your already burned out employees. Our work suggests that a more effective approach in these cases is for employees to reaffirm their own social networks. Rather than having bosses organize endless happy hours to artificially foster connections or herd burned-out employees into forced team-building activities, real recovery comes when managers give employees the space to pursue their own restorative opportunities — whether that’s explicitly encouraging them to take personal time to check in with a colleague, providing resources to build a mentoring network, or even just showing by example that the organization values self-care.
Of course, even in the most supportive work environment, compassion (for yourself or for others) doesn’t always come easily. In a second study, we surveyed social service workers — a population prone to chronic burnout — over three years. We found that those who were already suffering from burnout had a harder time engaging in acts of self- or other-care, but that those who were able to muster the energy to practice compassion showed significant reductions in burnout. This suggests that compassion is a like a muscle: it can be exhausted, but it can also be trained. In fact, researchers have found that compassion meditation training can actually rewire neural systems in the brain, and breath training, appreciation exercises, yoga, and movement practices have also been shown to be effective tools to cultivate compassion. The key is to recognize that anyone can learn to be more kind to themselves and to others, and that those small, compassionate acts (alongside other mental health practices) can help you begin to break free of burnout.
It can’t be stressed enough that the best cure for burnout is prevention. It’s on managers and organizations to protect their employees from becoming resource-depleted in the first place, and it’s also on the employer to provide the resources necessary to support employees’ mental health. That said, no matter how much effort an organization puts into combatting burnout, there will always be a need for employees to understand where their burnout is coming from and to develop strategies to help pull themselves out. Through self-reflection, employees can begin to identify the sources of their burnout, and then proactively determine the actions they can take that will be most effective for their recovery — whether that’s self-compassion, acts of kindness, or some combination of the two.
Reposted from Campus Safety Magazine
Almost every day the news presents for us another story about the latest incident involving a mass shooting. Just in 2021, a mentally disturbed individual killed eight persons at various Atlanta business locations. In the Denver area, a grocery store attack killed ten people, to include a responding police officer. At an Indianapolis FedEx warehouse facility, a disgruntled ex-employee killed nine former co-workers. History has shown that the tragedy of an active shooting attack occurs all too frequently.
Unfortunately, such mass shootings also occur on school and college campuses. The 1966 University of Texas shooting killed 16 and wounded another 33 before law enforcement was able to stop the sniper positioned in the university’s clock tower. The 1999 shooting at Columbine High School killed 13 and wounded another 24 students. In 2007 an active shooter at Virginia Tech barricaded the building exits before trapping and killing 32 students along with wounded 23 others. Sandy Hook Elementary School was the site of the 2012 attack that left 27 dead, to include 20 elementary students ages six and younger. In 2017 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School was the target of a suspended student who killed 17 and wounded the same number of students. Between 2012-2019, there were 387 mass shootings in the United States, 40 of which occurred on academic campuses. In 2019 alone, 211 people nationwide were killed as a result of active shooting attacks.
Law enforcement defines an active shooter as an individual who is actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill persons in a confined and populated area, typically through the use of a firearm. A mass shooting is further characterized by three or more deaths occurring as a result of the attack. Active shooters typically act alone and will almost never take hostages or negotiate with authorities before the incident is over. On average, an active shooter situation will last approximately eight minutes, enabling the attacker time to cause significant damage even before law enforcement is able to arrive on scene.
The reality of the active shooter threat means students and facility must know how to respond if confronted with this deadly situation. The “Run, Hide or Fight” response strategy has proven useful in affording innocent victims the best chance of evading harm, and it is incumbent on those responsible for campus safety to provide such training to all whom can benefit. Additionally, faculty and students need to also understand what actions to take as they escape the danger, such as displaying empty and raised hands when confronted by arriving authorities so as not to be mistaken for the threat. Also, responding police will need actionable information, to include the description and location of the attacker, as well as the number and severity of injured victims.
Just as important, campus safety personnel, as well as faculty and students, should learn the warning signs of a potential active shooter, the identification of which could help prevent a mass tragedy event. These warning signs include discernable behaviors that can raise concern regarding a potential future active shooter situation. Warning indicators can manifest in the form of social media that telegraph a potential shooter’s intent through the posting of content that supports violence, promotes the criminal use of weapons, or the expression of threatening messages. Furthermore, negative changes in personal behaviors, such as increased aggressiveness, paranoia or depression, can all be precursors to someone who is contemplating a mass shooting. It is essential to take any and all threats seriously that intimate violence, and to implement the necessary resources and intervention. Providing assistance to a troubled individual in advance can prevent violent actions in the future.
No one ever wants to be in the midst of an active shooter scenario. Unfortunately, history has shown that mass shootings happen with some degree of regularity, to include occurring on campus settings. While difficult to influence the actions of those who are mentally ill or wish to commit violence, the safety and security of individual faculty and students can be enhanced through an understanding of active shooter response strategies. Moreover, the recognition of the potential warning signs and providing intervention to the individual in question can enhance the safety of the overall campus community.
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