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Reposted from Artnet News
Next month marks the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre, which saw the city’s prosperous Greenwood District, home to the historic Black-owned businesses of Black Wall Street, burned to the ground in a deadly blaze. In memory of the victims and survivors, a new history museum and memorial, Greenwood Rising, is slated to open early this summer.
It’s an important moment for a city that for decades did not acknowledge the dark legacy of the massacre and the forces of systemic racism that shaped Tulsa as it rose from the ashes. Until 2019, the state of Oklahoma did not include the massacre as a mandatory part of public school curriculums.
“It’s time for us to stop sweeping this under the rug,” Phil Armstrong, head of Oklahoma’s 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Commission, which is overseeing the museum project, told Artnet News. “Let us honor the memory of those who lost their lives and the survivors.”
The 1921 massacre in Tulsa was ignited by a news story—later disproven—that a Black man had assaulted a white woman in an elevator. But it was more fundamentally fueled by simmering resentment over the wealth of Greenwood’s residents.
In an attack that gained broad pop culture representation in HBO’s Watchmen in 2019, a white mob killed an estimated 300 Black Tulsans, destroyed the homes of 10,000 others, and caused some $200 million in today’s dollars in property damage, according to academic research.
Determining how to best tell the story of the massacre was a challenging process that evolved over time, particularly over last summer, as Black Lives Matter protests rocked the nation.
“From the onset we’ve been really sensitive to the visitorship who will be coming through, including communities that have been heavily impacted by trauma,” L’Rai Arthur-Mensah, the project director at Local Projects, told Artnet News. “In the aftermath of the George Floyd killing, I came to the team and said, ‘I have a young Black son. I’m worried about how I’m going to be able to engage with the material that we place in this museum.'”
Clearly, this called for a more sophisticated solution than a sign with a trigger warning, telling visitors to enter at their own risk.
That’s why Local Projects created two paths through the exhibition, one of which offered what it dubbed an “emotional exit” offering a less graphic telling of Tulsa’s history. The display will open for all viewers with a recreation of life in Greenwood before the massacre, including a holographic barbershop installation sharing the hopes and dreams of those who called Black Wall Street home.
Visitors will then be able to opt out of the more triggering visuals in the museum’s “Arc of Oppression” section, which details the systemic racism faced by Black Americans, particularly in Tulsa, including the influence of the Ku Klux Klan, as well as a recreation of the chaos of the massacre itself. Projected photographs will showcase the destruction and violence of the deadly incident, paired with audio accounts from some of the survivors.
“A lot of people in the Black community don’t need to relive this history. It’s really about educating others,” Arthur-Mensah said. “So you can go through a separate path where you don’t see all the images or have to stand in the middle of the massacre as it’s happening.”
“We don’t want you to fully bypass the story. You should still understand this history, but you don’t have to trigger yourself in any way to do that,” she added. “You can find ways to educate without traumatizing.”
Regardless of what path visitors take through the galleries, they will end on a note of hope in a section titled “Journey Toward Reconciliation.” The exhibit explores how the community rebuilt after the massacre, how it was fractured again by urban renewal programs in the 1960s and the construction of a highway that split the town into two, and how it united yet again through telling its own story.
“The museum is really highlighting the history of the community and the resiliency of the people,” Arthur-Mensah said.
In telling that history, the Greenwood Rising team worked closely with the community to ensure that local voices were being heard. That included conversations with Tulsa educators, activists, and politicians, as well as a public forum that allowed the community to provide their feedback about how the story of the massacre should be presented.
“There were some hard conversations—when dealing with any sensitive materials, you won’t make everyone happy,” Arthur-Mensah acknowledged. “As designers, it is not our job to tell other people’s stories. It’s our job to provide platforms and vessels so that people can tell their stories for themselves.”
The 7,000-square-foot new museum is just one of the ways in which the community is marking the massacre’s centennial. The Tulsa Race Massacre Commission also runs the Greenwood Art Project, which will open an exhibition featuring 33 Oklahoma-based artists next month, among other programming. Tulsa’s Philbrook Museum of Art currently has two exhibitions inspired by Greenwood history.
“This has not been a bed of roses,” Armstrong admitted. “There’s been a lot of time establishing trust and rapport and credibility with the community, not only among Black citizens, but white citizens [who worried], ‘Was this just another way to try to make white citizens feel guilty for what happened a hundred years ago that they had no part in, creating another echo chamber where nothing really gets done?”
The goal is to make Greenwood Rising “a safe space for healing from racial trauma,” Armstrong added. The museum hopes to offer this not only through its exhibits, but also through additional space for community meetings and programming. The objective is for visitors to come away “not just being lightened and educated on this history, but to leave with a commitment to better racial relations within their own individual lives and take that back to their communities.”
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Reposted from AAM
“For museums, the choice is either resilience or irrelevance. When museums see themselves not only as serving their community but as their community, they will undoubtedly be resolute, fortitudinous, adaptive, and unrelenting despite the challenges they face.”
Extraordinary times demand that museums rethink and reposition themselves to be more integral and valued members of their communities. As the pandemic unfolded, societal inequities intensified and revealed structural, philosophical, and ethical weaknesses within museums and cultural organizations. Additionally, it became clear that government agencies and the general public did not view museums as essential players contributing to the vitality of community life.
These stark realities necessitate new approaches to address the loss of public participation, diminished financial resources, and racial inequities, and systemic exclusionary practices in museum workplaces, boardrooms, collections, and programming. Further, climate change and environmental injustices, agile digital strategies, flexible internal operations, and healthy community partnerships are but a few of the realities museums need to acknowledge and address. Unfortunately, many museums are still operating with inflexible mindsets, outdated assumptions and practices, and long-standing traditions that have been immune to critical examination.
This is an opportunity to “go down to the studs,” tackle embedded assumptions and reimagine museums as integral to public vitality and the greater ecosystem of which they are a part. To do so, institutions must rethink holistically—inside out and outside in—and re-envision what they are and what they can be.
Resilience positions museums to nurture more flexible and responsive operating models for a world where disruptions will continue and social and environmental issues will persist. Are museums part of the solution? We believe they are, but we also know that meeting this moment will require more than a pivot; museums will need to undergo transformational change.
What do we mean by resilience? Most definitions of resilience focus on the ability of an organization to bounce back from adversity. Resilience is much more than reacting to events thrust upon us or those of our own making; resilience is about anticipating disruption and generating an array of responses to flourish in the face of change.
Without a strong, strategic foundation from which to grow resilience, institutions are vulnerable to ongoing disruptions. The process of reframing, realigning, and reinventing any museum’s understanding of its work first requires analysis and ownership of its institutional history and current practices. When organizations are able to do this, they harness the awareness needed to build resilient mindsets, values, skills, and relationships that elevate their value in a rapidly evolving world.
The Resilience Model highlights five resilience goals forming a system of tightly interrelated operational components that are the lifeblood of agile, responsive organizations. Immediately surrounding the goals in the diagram at right are six resilient characteristics that institutions must embrace in order to effectively address the constantly changing external realities of the local and global environments in which they operate. The Resilience Model, featured in the resource The Resilience Playbook, outlines five goals, each supported by four plays, that capture a series of actions for museums to undertake the work of becoming resilient. This unprecedented opportunity is the moment to reimagine museum relevancy moving forward.
The Resilience Model is a holistic approach to institutional transformation that addresses the changes needed to establish museum resiliency. It is built on:
Resilient organizations need to move past intention and into action. Resilience is about mindsets and being ever-flexible. “Activate Equity and Inclusion” is Goal 1 because it is central to the success of an institution’s internal and external relationships and current and future resilient decision-making. Equity and inclusion reflect a complex and expansive ideology to be embraced throughout the organization and with their communities.
In the US, in particular, there is an imperative to address racial inequities; however, all diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion work is embraced within this goal. Equity and inclusion efforts require both individual (personal) and institution-wide work.
Commit to Resilience: Center equity and inclusion in all of your decision-making.
The realization that museums were not considered essential at the outset of COVID-19 laid bare that museums have a lot of work to do to earn community respect. Effective community engagement is a long-term commitment based on listening to communities and co-creating strategies that strengthen community vitality. Further, this goal is about shifting the role of the museum from being a destination toward being a fully integrated community partner that actively affirms that collective problems, such as socioeconomic inequities, climate change, and educational systems in crisis, require collective solutions. Museums cannot stand on the sidelines expecting others to address these persistent and urgent issues; museums must do their part.
Commit to Resilience: Redefine the organization as integral, relevant, and vital to public life.
This goal advances resilience by asking institutions to challenge their assumptions about how their pasts continue to influence current operations for good or ill. Confronting, naming, and owning exclusionary practices and colonial roots is essential internal work: no museum can achieve true resiliency without addressing the evidence and nature of past decisions, harms caused, and the embedded practices that may have left many without a voice or representation.
While part of this goal is about decolonizing the museum, it is also about addressing institutional priorities, practices, and processes that reveal realities about authority and power, diverse approaches to working with the public, and collection equity and access. Understandably, this process of deep assessment will lead to repositioning the museum’s purpose, mission, and institutional commitments.
Commit to Resilience: Reinvent the organization for the greatest relevance.
This goal underpins the essential need for financial strategies to support the work of transformation, building financial resilience, and instilling the ability to be flexible and prepared. Understanding the connections between financial resources and the institution’s internal and external realities is about aligning institutional convictions with the resources required to address them.
Critical examination of the museum’s business model once again challenges assumptions and assesses where and how every resource is secured and invested, thus catalyzing new decision-making criteria and processes and laying the groundwork for rigorous resilient practices. Instilling institution-wide financial literacy gives board and staff members an understanding of, and respect for, the intricacies of running a museum’s complex operation.
Commit to Resilience: Build financial resilience.
The final Playbook goal speaks to our understanding that institutional reframing, realigning, and reinvention are unlikely to occur without organizational leaders (including staff leaders) who are receptive to making change. Change requires a sense of urgency and champions for change combined with an integrated and inclusive approach to examining organizational culture and structures. That means unlearning old behaviors in order to pursue a new clarity of purpose rooted in a “values first” approach.
Museums must re-examine board and staff roles and responsibilities and their policies and procedures in order to ensure agility. Accept that no individual has all the answers, especially when it comes to complicated crises like COVID-19 and systemic racism. Resilient leaders use diverse teams to help them problem-solve, and, in doing so, they foster learning environments.
Commit to Resilience: Recalibrate leadership for peak performance.
Many conversations, actions, and decisions will occur before organizations are authentically equitable, inclusive, resilient, and active participants in their communities. While each institution will envision its own path into the future, all must address past and current practices before moving forward.
The Resilience Model requires intentionality, diligence, courage, patience, and, above all else, an institutional commitment to do the work and accept the need for change. In the end, we hope the Resilience Model and The Resilience Playbook generate deep self-reflective conversations in the field, leading to meaningful changes and a growing community of resilient museums.
Police in Berlin have captured Abdul Majed Remmo, the fifth and final suspect connected to the shocking 2019 jewel heist at Dresden’s Green Vault Museum, or Grünes Gewölbe.
Authorities had been searching for the 22-year-old man since he evaded capture in a sting operation late last year. He is the twin brother of fellow suspect Mohammed Remmo, who is already in custody. Remmo will appear before a judge next Tuesday where he could face charges of aggravated gang theft and arson, reports CNN.
Germany’s federal police worked with the Berlin state authorities, Dresden police, and special forces to make the arrest.
Due to German privacy laws regarding ongoing criminal proceedings, the brothers have not been officially named by law enforcement officials. The Remmos are already widely known, however, as one of the nation’s most notorious crime families. They are believed to also have stolen a $5 million commemorative gold coin from Berlin’s Bode Museum in 2017, among other high-profile crimes.
At the Green Vault Museum, the thieves stole three sets of Baroque jewelry, all lifted from a single display case in an early morning heist. The institution, which was founded by Saxon ruler Augustus the Strong in 1723, is known for its historic collection of precious treasure.
The media speculated that the stolen jewelry could be worth as much as $1 billion—which would make it Europe’s most costly museum heist—but the state considers the objects priceless due to their cultural value.
“We cannot give a value because it is impossible to sell,” Dresden’s State Art Collections director, Marion Ackermann, told the Associated Press at the time of the crime. “The material value doesn’t reflect the historic meaning.”
Police made three arrests in connection with the crime in November 2020, and a fourth the following month, when they nabbed Mohammed Remmo. The search for the treasures is ongoing.
Reposted from the Harvard Business Review
Everybody wants to be happy. But how can we meet that sometimes elusive goal? This was a difficult question even before the global pandemic, but nowadays just thinking about it can seem futile. Parents are trying to balance the demands of remote work and online schooling; people who live alone try to keep their focus in isolation. When life is measured by back-to-back Zoom meetings, even taking a shower can seem like a win.
The transformation of the workplace into scheduled online meetings has led to another source of deprivation: The removal of serendipitous encounters. For many people, hearing a colleague say, “Thank you so much” in the hallway, or a manager telling you “Great job” after a presentation were a highlight of office life. Now, these seem like traditions from another lifetime. Without water cooler interactions, casual lunches, and coffee breaks with colleagues, we don’t have the same opportunities for social connection as before. Without them, it can be much harder to find joy in our work. So, what can we do about it?
We offer a humble suggestion: Kindness. This past year, most management advice has focused on how to sustain productivity during the pandemic, yet the power of kindness has been largely overlooked. Practicing kindness by giving compliments and recognition has the power to transform our remote workplace.
A commitment to be kind can bring many important benefits. First, and perhaps most obviously, practicing kindness will be immensely helpful to our colleagues. Being recognized at work helps reduce employee burnout and absenteeism, and improves employee well-being, Gallup finds year after year in its surveys of U.S. workers. Receiving a compliment, words of recognition, and praise can help individuals feel more fulfilled, boost their self-esteem, improve their self-evaluations, and trigger positive emotions, decades of research have shown. These positive downstream consequences of compliments make intuitive sense: Praise aligns with our naturally positive view of ourselves, confirming our self-worth.
Second, practicing kindness helps life feel more meaningful. For example, spending money on others and volunteering our time improves wellbeing, bringing happiness and a sense of meaning to life, research finds. Being kind brings a sense of meaning because it involves investing in something bigger than ourselves. It shapes both how others perceive us — which improves our reputation — and how we view ourselves. We draw inferences about who we are by observing our own behavior, and our acts of kindness make us believe that we have what it takes to be a good person. In the remote workplace, where cultivating moments of joy is difficult, this may be a particularly important benefit that translates into long-term job satisfaction.
Third, as we found in a new set of studies, giving compliments can make us even happier than receiving them. We paired up participants and asked them to write about themselves and then talk about themselves with each other. Next, we asked one of them to give an honest compliment about something they liked or respected about the other participant after listening to them. Consistently, we found that giving compliments actually made people happier than receiving them. Surprisingly, though, people were largely unaware of the hedonic benefits of being kind.
Why does giving compliments boost our happiness to such a degree? A key ingredient of well-being that we’ve sorely lacked during the pandemic plays a role: social connection. In our studies, we found that giving compliments engendered a stronger social connection than receiving compliments because giving them encouraged people to focus on the other person. Sure, receiving a compliment feels great, but making a thoughtful, genuine compliment requires us to think about someone else — their mental state, behavior, personality, thoughts, and feelings. Thinking about other people is often a precondition to feeling connected to them. In this way, compliments can become a social glue, enhancing connections and positivity in relationships, and making us happier.
Nonetheless, people are often hesitant to give compliments. Why? The idea of approaching someone and saying something nice can trigger social anxiety and discomfort, recent research by Erica Boothby and Vanesa Bohns shows. For this reason, we assume people will feel uncomfortable and be bothered by receiving a compliment, when the opposite is true.
In addition to these psychological barriers, working remotely has added more structural barriers to random acts of kindness, compliments, and recognition. Before the pandemic, organizations often recognized employees through formal programs, while serendipitous encounters could easily generate a simple thank you or words of praise. By contrast, today’s Zoom meetings tend to follow strict agendas that leave no room for any other topic, let alone compliments.
Organizations benefit from actively fostering kindness. In workplaces where acts of kindness become the norm, the spillover effects can multiply fast. When people receive an act of kindness, they pay it back, research shows — and not just to the same person, but often to someone entirely new. This leads to a culture of generosity in an organization. In a landmark study analyzing more than 3,500 business units with more than 50,000 individuals, researchers found that acts of courtesy, helping, and praise were related to core goals of organizations. Higher rates of these behaviors were predictive of productivity, efficiency, and lower turnover rates. When leaders and employees act kindly towards each other, they facilitate a culture of collaboration and innovation.
How can leaders promote kindness in the remote workplace? First, they can lead by example. People are naturally sensitive to the behaviors of high-status team members. By giving compliments and praising their employees, leaders are likely to motivate team members to copy their behavior and create norms of kindness in teams.
Second, leaders can set aside time during Zoom meetings for a “kindness round” in which team members are free to acknowledge each other’s work. This need not take much time — even a few minutes a week will suffice. But these few minutes can boost morale and social connection, especially when months-long projects are mostly completed over Zoom.
Third, consider small spot bonuses. Companies such as Google have used “peer bonus” systems to encourage employees to send small amounts of money (from a fund in the organization) to each other to show appreciation for particularly effective work. Even a few dollars could have a positive effect; research finds that people appreciate small acts of kindness as much as large ones. A gift card or a small gift sent through the mail might work just as well. Simply knowing that one is appreciated can trigger the psychological benefits of kindness without costing the organization substantial sums.
The power of kindness can mitigate the ill effects of our increasingly online social world. It is an essential leadership skill that can cascade through people, changing the culture of the workplace along the way.
Reposted from The Washington Post
“What is that?” Jackie Eyl, a museum employee, asks.
“A rat,” the girl responds.
“It’s not an ordinary rat,” Eyl explains. “It’s a spy rat.”
The CIA during the Cold War used dead rats to pass messages and money between agents, she says. She tells the girl that the agents tucked the items inside the animals and then sprinkled them with hot sauce to ward off hungry cats.
“Isn’t that nasty? Isn’t that gross?” she says as Izzie laughs. “Do you want to see dog doo?”
“Yeah,” Izzie says in a tone that expresses, “Of course.”
Soon, Eyl is showing her tiger dung that was used in Vietnam to conceal a radio transmitter.
Nothing is quite as it seems in the Spy Museum, which warns visitors as soon as they step off the elevator that they are leaving the world they knew and entering the shadow world. Here, in this secret world of spies, a pencil can contain a map, and a chess board can serve as an escape kit. Here, visitors aren’t just visitors. They are given agent names and missions to complete.
The transformative nature of the museum makes it an especially fitting home for Patrice, a robot who is also much more than she appears.
The small, sleek robot is opening up the museum to hospitalized children and young adults who can’t physically get to the building. From their beds at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, they can control where Patrice goes and what her camera sees. They don’t just occupy a virtual space; they command a physical one. As they explore, their faces fill a screen near Patrice’s head, and their voices come out of her speakers.
“The robot, it disappears, it becomes them,” says Eyl, who is the director of youth education for the museum. “When we’re looking at Patrice, we’re looking at the child, and we don’t make any distinction.”
With Izzie, that becomes clear as soon as her face appears on the screen, ready to take a tour. Eyl and Lucy Stirn, the museum’s school and youth programs manager, let Izzie do the driving and decide where to stop. Along the way, the two trained educators alternate between calling her by her real name and her spy name, Agent Kayak.
Do you want to see some spy gadgets, Agent Kayak?
Do you want to race, Agent Kayak?
Museum staff members used to visit children at hospitals, but the pandemic forced those trips to stop. Then in November, Eyl saw an email from a Johns Hopkins medical student who remembered going to the museum as a child. He wanted to know whether the museum was interested in getting a robot that could remotely facilitate connections with hospitalized youths.
“This is really cool,” Eyl recalls thinking. “It’s another way to go beyond the brick and mortar.”
An email exchange followed, and soon, the museum staff was meeting Patrice and learning how to operate her.
Galen Shi, a medical student at Johns Hopkins University, is the founder of the WeGo Foundation, which provided Patrice. When we talk on a recent evening, he explains that the idea of using robots to allow children to escape the hospital, if only for a short while, came to him after he volunteered at an outpatient clinic and interned with a company that was using robotics to improve the delivery of health care.
“I kind of brought those two ideas together,” he says. “When you’re at the hospital, you kind of lose a lot of your autonomy. A lot of things happen to you. One of the things we cherish about this is giving these kids their sense of autonomy back.”
Patrice, he says, was named after the director of child life services at Johns Hopkins, who has played an important role in the project. The robot is the first that the group has housed at a D.C. venue, but she is not the first of her kind. She has two more experienced siblings who live in Baltimore. A robot named Kevin is located at the Maryland Science Center, and one named RAE, which stands for Remote Aquarium Explorer, is at the National Aquarium.
Shi says the group is applying for nonprofit status, and the dream is to have a fleet of robots in venues across the world, so that hospitalized children and eventually adults in assisted-living facilities can choose to go anywhere they want.
At the core of the effort is accessibility. It is opening up spaces and experiences for people who would otherwise be left out.
“I think covid has opened a lot of people’s eyes about this,” Shi says. Before the pandemic, people could sympathize with how it felt to be stuck inside hospitals and other facilities, looking at the same walls each day, he says. “Now, they can empathize.”
Izzie’s stepmom, Brittany Sims, describes the 12-year-old as a naturally curious child, the kind who will throw out random facts about walrus anatomy. But Izzie’s cystic fibrosis has meant long hospital stays, and by the end of them, she is usually so bored that she just wants to sleep, Sims says.
The day Izzie toured the Spy Museum was different, Sims says. She describes Izzie as excited for it to start and still talking about it after it ended.
“She told me about the tiger poop,” she says, laughing.
So far, the museum has given only a handful of tours to hospitalized children using Patrice. On that night, they did three and allowed photographer Sarah Voisin and me to witness them.
A short while after Izzie says goodbye, Patrice flickers her lights, and on her screen appears a 4-year-old girl, holding a small Troll doll.
Stirn and Eyl show an impressive amount of energy and enthusiasm during each tour. They present exhibits with an excitement that doesn’t let on that they have talked about them countless times. But working with hospitalized children means also knowing when to cut tours short, and within a few minutes, the 4-year-old makes it clear that she wants to go.
The two women say goodbye and wait for Patrice to let them know when the next child is ready.
Soon, 7-year-old Hayden Dawes, who has hydrocephalus and has been in the hospital for a week to replace a shunt, appears on the screen. He holds a wand and waves it in a magician-like manner.
“What are you going to turn me into?” Stirn asks.
“A bunny rabbit,” he says, smiling, before flicking his wrist.
Stirn drops to the floor and starts hopping toward one of the display cases, signaling to Hayden to follow.
Only here, he is not Hayden. He is Agent McGillicuddy.
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.
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.
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