INTERNATIONAL FOUNDATION FORCULTURAL PROPERTY PROTECTION
Reposted from Colleen Dilen Schneider
When the pandemic first began, IMPACTS Experience started monitoring how the coronavirus was impacting the types of organizations people were choosing to visit. We’ve referred to this metric as the “redistribution of demand.” Now, more than two years into the pandemic, institutions may expect the demand for different cultural experiences to return to pre-pandemic levels. In other words, one might think that the folks who once enjoyed going to the theater over the zoo would by now have returned to their pre-pandemic preferences.
But that’s not the case. The demand for onsite cultural engagement remains redistributed away from some organization types and towards others.
This research has important implications for strategic planning, market potential and future attendance expectations, and engagement tactics.
It’s been some time since we published redistribution of demand data, so let’s start with a refresher on the methodology. We’ve been asking people the following basic question: “On a scale of 1 to 100 where a response of 1 means ‘a significant decrease in my likelihood of visiting,’ a response of 50 means ’the same’ or ‘no change in my likelihood of visiting,’ and a response of 100 means a ‘significant increase in my likelihood of visiting’: How likely are you to visit a(n) [organization type] after the current coronavirus-related restrictions are removed and you are able to resume your normal activities?”
A response of 50 indicates no change whatsoever in intended future visitation behaviors, suggesting intentions to engage with the indicated organization type as they would in the “before times.” Any response greater than 50 indicates a proportionately higher level of demand for a type of organization, and, conversely, any response less than 50 indicates proportionately lessened demand.
This research does not necessarily mean that people prefer botanic gardens to symphonies on the whole. Instead, this metric measures how likely people are to return to their normal, pre-coronavirus behaviors. It means that people whose normal behavior in 2019 was to go to symphonies report being less likely to return to the symphony now. It means that people whose normal behavior was to go to botanic gardens are even more likely to visit them now than they were before the pandemic.
The chart below shows the redistribution of demand as of the end of 2020 and 2021, as well as through the end of the first quarter of 2022. The different timings of the bars are included in order to better demonstrate how quickly things are changing as American behaviors and regulations have broadly loosened.
This finding from the early weeks of the pandemic continues to hold true even now that institutions have long since reopened, many folks have been infected or vaccinated, and most mask requirements have been lifted. Even with these looser regulations harkening back to pre-coronavirus times, people are still behaving differently when it comes to their behaviors involving cultural activities.
You’ll note that redistribution of demand dramatically benefits parks and gardens. It also strongly benefits zoos, aquariums, and some museums. During the pandemic, gardens, zoos, and aquariums generally did (and continue to do) comparatively well in attracting visitors – with some attracting even greater attendance numbers than before the pandemic! Over the last couple of years, Americans have been conditioned to consider outdoor activities and those that allow for greater freedom of movement as more top-of-mind due to safety perceptions. Simply, the pandemic more effectively activated previously inactive visitors to these institutions by providing a perceptually safer activity than other out-of-home competitors for leisure time. People who may have been interested in either going to the zoo or seeing a movie in the movie theater are more likely to choose the zoo now – even if the movie would have won out in pre-pandemic times.
A factor likely contributing to the redistribution of demand toward museums in particular is that people previously interested in these types of experiences are starting to come back. Indeed, there may be some pent-up demand at play for art, history, and other museums. Additionally, science museums and science centers have returned to historic levels of demand. This may generally be considered good news given concerns surrounding touching shared objects during the pandemic.
However, this makes the redistribution of demand away from performing arts even harder to swallow. These organizations have also been adding back programs and experiences to welcome back guests and patrons, but while people are indeed attending these organizations again, their intentions are notably lower than 2019 levels – even among those who consider themselves regular patrons of the performing arts. Predictably, this impacts market potential for performing arts organizations.
This point may be the most important of the whole article: These findings have proven relatively durable over the past two years. While some seasonal variability affects these trends, the data on the whole suggests that visitors have not only adjusted their behaviors in response to the pandemic but have settled into these new preferences as part of a “new normal.” Extant research suggests that new habits are formed in 66 days, on average. At over two years into the pandemic and over a year reducing regulations and mask mandates, visitors to cultural organizations are well beyond this timespan in establishing new habits. Returning to previous visitation behaviors will happen slowly, if it happens at all.
This finding is a good one for zoos and botanic gardens seeking to attract or maintain greater attendance. It’s a potential blow for theaters, symphonies, and other live performances. As a reminder, though, attracting new audiences by way of elevating welcoming perceptions is still an issue for organizations experiencing positive redistribution of demand. While positive-demand entities are comparatively doing better on this front on the whole, attracting more visitors does not always mean that an organization is effectively attracting the new visitors required to sustain attendance into the future.
The other factor potentially influencing the durability of these behavioral shifts is the technological response to the pandemic. Multiple studies indicate that the pandemic has rapidly accelerated digitization trends, and perhaps no visitor-serving enterprise has been more affected by this trend than the performing arts. Accelerated digital adoption coupled with the increased competition from the couch (i.e., one’s likelihood to stay at home for leisure purposes (link)) and technological innovations that enable more robust viewing and listening experiences continue to challenge the market potential of place-based performing arts.
This research does not necessarily indicate that interest in the content presented by performing arts organizations has changed! People are interested in entertainment. However, the pandemic may have shifted expectations around the delivery of performing arts content and how people engage with it. During the pandemic, entertainment companies met us on our couches with releases of robust streaming content. As of the end of 2021, 86.5% of Americans who say they prefer to stay home over the weekend report that they watched a movie or show the last time they stayed home. From a performing arts perspective, consider that the number of people viewing “Hamilton” within its first ten days on Disney+ exceeded the total number of people who had seen the show in person!
Old habits die hard. When cultural organizations shut down, Americans missed visiting them, and perceptions that these institutions are assets to their communities generally increased over the course of the pandemic. But the past two years have been hard, and those old habits haven’t stayed the same. While there may have been hope among some institutions that Americans would return to 2019 behaviors and preferences as soon as the opportunity arose, that’s not proving to be the case. Many behaviors and perceptions shifted during the pandemic. It may be some time before they move back – if they do so at all.
While change is always difficult – especially when layered atop more change – these shifts may represent a strategic opportunity. For some organizations (e.g., parks, gardens, zoos, aquariums, some museums), the durability of the pandemic’s redistribution of demand may be good news for audience engagement. For performing arts organizations, however, these findings are an indication that audience engagement remains altered, requiring consideration of new potential platforms and methods of connection. It’s still a time of trial, creativity, testing, and evolution for performing arts organizations as they invite guests back to their auditoriums, continue to experiment with outdoor experiences, and cultivate online communities.
Americans are inching toward a new normal and life is different than it was in 2019. In some ways it may be better. In others, worse. Cultural executives must continue to lead their institutions in strategic evolution to educate, connect, and inspire their communities – come what may.
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Reposted from Artnet News
When Catalan artist Oriol Vilanova exhibited a jacket filled with postcards visitors could remove and examine at the Musée Picasso in Paris, little did he imagine that one person would take the liberty a step too far.
But in late March, a 72-year-old woman took the blue work jacket, which had been hanging on a wall, home with her. According to French daily Le Parisien, she then had it altered at the tailor’s so it would fit.
Upon returning to the museum to revisit the show a few days later, the woman—who had been captured on surveillance camera putting the jacket into her bag—was arrested by the police, who happened to be at the museum looking for evidence.
While in custody, the retiree—who was reportedly “passionate” about art, according to Le Parisien—immediately confessed to stealing the jacket but claimed not to have realized it was an artwork. Police searched her home, where they found it with shortened sleeves.
After a few hours of interrogation, the public prosecutor’s office let the woman off with a warning and dropped the case. According to Le Parisien, the woman had been placed under guardianship.
Vilanova’s artwork belongs to his “Old Masters” series (2017–21), which involved filling the pockets of a blue jacket with postcards depicting artworks by major figures in art history. At the Musée Picasso, the jacket was filled with postcards purchased at flea markets and museum shops, all with images of Picasso’s work. The jacket appeared next to a black-and-white photograph of Picasso in his studio and was presented in “Picasso à l’image” (through February 12, 2023), a thematic exhibition of the museum’s collection with archival photographs, films, and documentaries.
“When the museum told me the work had been stolen, I was surprised, but it was impossible to envisage the story that followed,” Vilanova told Artnet News.
But Vilanova disputes this. “I’ve always exhibited this artwork in the same way in other museums without any problem [as there were] security guards that guaranteed its safety,” he told Artnet News. “Other museums insured the artwork. If I had been aware of the risk of theft [at the Musée Picasso], I would never have exhibited it,” he said, adding that 150 postcards were also destroyed by the culprit.
The theft raises questions about the Musée Picasso’s security system. However, the museum told Artnet News it “proposed to the artist to secure [the jacket] on a coat-hanging system which would have prevented it from being unhooked off the wall.
“This option was not chosen by the artist because the public could not have manipulated the work easily. He wanted people to be able to handle not just the postcards, but the jacket too.”
Due to the nature of Vilanova’s piece, it was “not insurable for the risk of theft,” a point stated in its loan agreement with the artist, the museum said. “The artist was aware of the risk of the object being stolen.”
Based in Brussels, Vilanova describes his method of working as a “flea market studio practice.” His installations of chromatically ordered postcards, intended as a reflection on mass reproduction, have been exhibited internationally. Work from his “Old Masters” series had also been shown at the Albright Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, as well as in Monaco and Belgium, where it was always free from harm.
Reposted from MIT Sloane Management Review
Lately, it feels like “resilience” has popped up as the answer to just about everything. Having a hard time because of a toxic environment? Just be resilient. Struggling to home-school your kids while working 50-hour weeks during a global pandemic? Try some resilience.
Resilience, or the ability to withstand hardship and bounce back from difficult events, is useful when it comes to work. But, too often, it’s presented in a way that overlooks structural issues and instead encourages employees to grin and bear whatever tough stuff comes their way — and to do so on their own, without disturbing their colleagues.
The truth is, it’s much, much easier to be resilient in an environment that makes it easy. Say your team priorities suddenly shift or everyone has to switch to remote work overnight. You’ll be better able to regroup and gather the energy to figure out a new path forward if you trust your manager, feel safe opening up to your team, and believe that the organization will work to support you.
In other words, there’s a difference between demanding that everyone be mentally tough and actually helping them take care of their mental health. As the past few years have proved, uncertainty and challenging situations are often beyond our control. But how leaders respond — that is, whether they make work a place where employees feel supported, or push them until they burn out and give up — is not. Based on the research and interviews we conducted for our new book, Big Feelings: How to Be Okay When Things Are Not Okay, we’ve pulled together five actions leaders can take to create a workplace that supports resilience.
1. Make well-being a collective practice.
Teams can put shared practices into place that make it easier for individuals to improve their well-being. Ask yourself: How can my team better incorporate balance as part of our days? Saying you want your people to have a healthy work-life balance is great, but if their calendars are filled with back-to-back meetings and they get pinged at all hours of the day, chances are they won’t feel safe taking the breaks they need.
To improve team well-being, establish shared rituals. When everything feels up in the air, rituals can help employees feel more grounded — and less stressed. It doesn’t matter what the ritual is: Research shows that simply doing the same thing at the same time can improve mental health.
A couple of ideas we’ve heard from teams: Kick off weekly team meetings with a fun prompt, make a shared commitment to not schedule video calls with each other on one or two afternoons a week, and put 15-minute team breaks on the calendar every day. We also heard from one leader that she’s found it useful to give her team the first five minutes of their regular meeting to turn off their cameras and do something that will help them be more present, whether that’s responding to the email burning a hole in their inbox or getting up to stretch.
2. Look back at how far you’ve come as a team.
A ritual around reflection and recognition can also help your team members connect and build confidence. Successfully navigating change or uncertainty as a team is not about having the perfect plan in place but about trusting that you can weather surprises together.
To take stock of all that your team has accomplished, set aside time at the end of each month or quarter to discuss the following:
Keep in mind that an important part of progress is lessons learned. If your team had to rapidly pivot toward a new goal, you’re not “behind” where you’re supposed to be. It means you’re moving in a new direction, this time with experience.
3. Use one-on-one meetings wisely.
If your one-on-ones focus solely on status updates, you’re missing out on a valuable opportunity to better understand and support your team members. Worse, you might be inadvertently sending the message that you care only about pressing tasks and to-dos, which can leave your reports feeling expendable and anxious.
Find an alternative channel for status updates (think email, Slack threads, or brief team meetings) to leave more room for personal conversations in one-on-ones. We recommend asking these questions:
Make sure to take action on what you hear, and communicate the steps you’ll take. For example, you might say, “You mentioned last week that you could use more heads-down time. Let’s work together to see if there are any upcoming meetings that could be handled asynchronously or that you could push to next week.”
4. Understand and adjust for different emotional expression tendencies.
While it’s important to create space for your employees to flag feelings or raise concerns, you shouldn’t push them to do so. If things get challenging or the future seems uncertain, let your reports know that you’re there to support them, but make it OK for them to not open up to you in great detail.
When it comes to how comfortable we are expressing emotions, we each sit somewhere along a spectrum. On one end are over-emoters, or people who are highly emotionally expressive. People always know what over-emoters are feeling and tend to turn to them when they want someone to be excited. On the other end are under-emoters, or people who are less emotionally expressive. People feel they can go to under-emoters if they are upset or have a problem, since the under-emoter will be able to calmly figure out a way forward. Even-emoters sit in the middle but can swing either way, depending on the situation. None of these tendencies is “good” or “bad,” but it’s useful to be aware of where on the spectrum your reports (and you!) sit so you can adjust your behavior as needed. (We’ve created an emotional expression tendency assessment that you can use and share with your team.)
For example, say one of your reports is an under-emoter. If she’s feeling overwhelmed by the amount of uncertainty she’s facing, she won’t wear that emotion on her sleeve, and she likely won’t bring it up in a one-on-one conversation on her own. So as her boss, you’ll need to dig a bit deeper by asking questions like, “What part of your job is keeping you up at night?” or “What should I know about that I don’t know about?”
5. Create shared language.
To make it easier for employees to feel safe opening up and trusting one another, it’s helpful to establish shared language. For example, teams at the executive coaching firm Reboot use a “red, yellow, green” system to check in at the beginning of meetings. Red means someone is struggling; yellow means someone feels stressed, but it’s manageable; and green means someone is feeling good.
We’ve also worked with teams to help them create “It’s OK to …” lists. The idea comes from writer Giles Turnbull, who wanted new employees at the U.K.’s Government Digital Service to know that it was always OK to do things like make mistakes or ask a question. He drafted a list, crowdsourced more ideas from his colleagues, and then designed posters that he hung in the office. The final “It’s OK to …” list included things like “say you don’t understand,” “have quiet days,” and “ask why, and why not.”
Uncertainty and change are inevitable. But by putting the practices listed above into place, leaders can create environments for their people that make it easier for them to be resilient. Ultimately, the best and most successful workplaces are those that ensure people feel supported through difficult times.
Reposted from The New York Times
The Smithsonian Institution announced Tuesday that it has adopted a policy that will formally authorize its constituent museums to return items from their collections that were looted or were otherwise once acquired unethically.
The institution’s leaders said the policy, which took effect Friday, represents a shift away from the stance long taken by it and other museums, who had held the view that the legal right to own an item was sufficient justification to keep it.
“My goal was very simple: Smithsonian will be the place people point to, to say ‘This is how we should share our collections and think about ethical returns,’” Lonnie G. Bunch III, the secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, said in an interview. “The Smithsonian is this amazing wonder — this gift not just to the country but to the world. It’s really important that we provide leadership.”
In recent years, as conversations about racism and the legacy of colonialism have proliferated, the discussion about the repatriation of the artworks that were stolen, taken under duress or removed without the consent of their owners has intensified at cultural centers across the globe.
Where museums once argued they lacked the authority to return works given by donors or that the retention of artifacts promoted the widest appreciation of ancient cultures, the pendulum has swung toward restitution and repatriation.
With its new policy, the Smithsonian — which includes 21 museums and the National Zoo — is attempting to make a blunt acknowledgment that norms and best practices in the collecting world have changed, and that it is time for museums to catch up.
Last year, Smithsonian officials returned a gold disc featuring the shield of the city of Cusco to the Ministry of Culture in Peru. A collector had bought it from someone working in the country in 1912, officials said.
In March, the Smithsonian said it would return most of its 39 Benin Bronzes to Nigeria — more than a century after they were stolen during the British Army’s 1897 raid on the ancient Kingdom of Benin. Museum officials have said they consider the return of the Bronzes, a name that is used to cover a variety of artifacts, a clear example of a situation in which repatriation was appropriate. Nigeria’s National Commission for Museums and Monuments and the Smithsonian will share exhibitions and work together on education programs as part of a broad agreement that includes the repatriation of the artworks, officials have said.
“No one ever expects everything to be taken away,” Bunch said.
“But I think it’s important to recognize that museums need to share authority,” he continued. “As you’re looking at returning materials, part of the conversation might be that the best place for materials might be in the museum.”
The policy grew out of discussions last year by a group of Smithsonian curators and collections specialists who were asked to consider whether the institution should develop a policy like the one it has now adopted.
The move falls under broader “collections management” rules that apply to all Smithsonian museums, officials said. But the institution’s collections are so diverse, the ethics policy’s implementation will need to be specifically tailored to each museum.
Officials made clear that although they have adopted the policy, they will not embark on a full inventory of the Smithsonian’s 157 million objects.
“The notion is to say, when we’re doing exhibitions, when we’re bringing in new collections, let us look at it through an ethical lens,” Bunch said. “Or, of course, if we hear from nations or communities about things, that will also trigger the kinds of research that will really allow us to make decisions about where is the best place for those collections.”
There are some items that have already caught curators’ attention.
The Smithsonian has a photo of a Black jazz musician in archives at the National Museum of American History that it got from a collector. But provenance researchers “do not like the history of the photo going back further” than that acquisition, said Linda St. Thomas, a spokeswoman for the institution.
In another instance, the National Museum of Natural History has pottery from an expedition site in Turkey that comes from the ancient city of Troy, she said. It is possible that Turkey will want to locate items like the pottery and eventually ask that they be returned, St. Thomas said.
In a publicly released Values and Principles Statement, the Smithsonian said: “We affirm the Smithsonian’s commitment to implement policies that respond in a transparent and timely manner to requests for return or shared stewardship.”
Reposted from HR Brew
After over two years spent struggling to endure a pandemic that continues to impact many aspects of daily life, many Americans are feeling isolated. According to the 2022 The State of Mental Health in America report from Mental Health America, a nonprofit dedicated to mental health, nearly 5% of adults report experiencing serious thoughts of suicide, an increase of 664,000 people from the previous year. And according to the report, over half of adults (56%) with mental illness do not receive treatment, leaving more than 27 million Americans with mental illnesses untreated.
The campaign. The Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) launched a new campaign at the end of March dubbed “Mental Health at Work: What Can I Do?” The campaign featured a PSA and a host of resources aimed at reducing the stigma often associated with discussing mental health at work. The core message? Every person in an organization, from managers to coworkers, has a role to play in promoting every employee’s mental health and well-being.
In addition to the PSA, the campaign provides an outreach tool kit with language to help companies promote mental-health practices, workplace mental-health resources, including a resource library, and a guide for company leaders and managers to support employee mental health.
Taryn Williams, the assistant secretary of labor for disability employment policy at ODEP, believes workplaces are becoming more accepting of mental illness and the subject isn’t as off-limits as it used to be, in part because mental illness can impact anyone.
“We’re hearing that mental health is a concern, especially in light of the stresses brought on by the pandemic,” Williams told HR Brew. “I can say that we’re hearing this as an issue across all industries and companies of all sizes…It’s everywhere.”
In a blog post about the campaign, Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh discussed his personal journey with mental illness (specifically, substance abuse) and the importance of having support at work. “I learned firsthand that a supportive environment can make all the difference—to both employees with mental-health conditions and the employers who want to keep them productive and on the job,” Walsh wrote.
Be on the lookout. Williams says that part of the campaign is to educate employers and employees alike that “mental health is health” and encourages leaders to keep an eye out for signs of distress. “We really encourage HR professionals and supervisors to be in conversation with their employees, even as the workplace has shifted.” Williams said. “Staying in contact with members of their team, inquiring about their work and how things are going. Engaging in those sorts of conversations, even if you don’t have that direct interaction, can be so critical for understanding where an employee might be struggling.”
Williams stresses that leadership plays a role in normalizing discussions surrounding mental health. “When they [leaders] talk about the experiences that they’re having, when they are open to disclosing some of the struggles that they might have, that can play a significant role in creating an environment that is more inclusive,” Williams said.
Zoom out. Williams also hopes employers remember that mental illness is a form of disability that can and should be talked about at work.
“Workplaces can become more inclusive of all people with disabilities, including people with mental-health conditions, and we really want to use this moment to continue to break down stigma and myths, and take the conversation about mental health to a different level,” Williams said.
Reposted from Security Management Magazine
Background checks are a critical tool for employers to help avoid liability for negligent hiring—but navigating myriad U.S. federal, state, and local laws that govern such investigations can be a difficult task.
Why do employers typically get sued for negligent hiring? Because they knew or should have known about an employee’s potential to cause harm, said Lester Rosen, an attorney and the CEO of Employment Screening Resources, a background screening firm based in the San Francisco Bay Area.
“The background check is not to tell you who to hire but who not to hire,” he said during a concurrent session at the SHRM Talent Conference & Expo 2022 in Denver, Colorado, on 12 April.
If you don't do background checks at all or don’t do them correctly, you’re likely to become the defendant in a lawsuit, he said.
Here are six tips that employers should keep in mind during the hiring and screening process.
Carefully review the application with a critical eye, Rosen said. Did the job applicant sign the application and release, identify past employers and supervisors, and explain why he or she left past jobs or has employment gaps?
Not all background screening firms are created equal, Rosen noted.
In 2010, the Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA)—which was formerly called the National Association of Professional Background Screeners—created the Background Screening Agency Accreditation Program (BSAAP).
“Governed by a strict and thorough set of professional standards of specified requirements and measurements, the [BSAAP] has become a widely recognized seal of approval bringing national recognition to an employment background screening-affiliated organization for its commitment to achieving excellence through high professional standards with accountability that results in continued institutional improvement,” according to the PBSA website.
Make sure your screening system is intuitive and user-friendly, Rosen said. The process is generally initiated in one of the following ways:
Rosen said the ATS should be able to connect to screening firms with a simplified and intuitive applicant process.
The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) regulates employment screening and outlines consent, disclosure, and notice requirements for employers that use third parties to conduct background checks on job applicants and employees.
FCRA compliance involves “a lot of byzantine steps,” and many U.S. states have their own additional requirements, Rosen noted.
Under FCRA, claimants in a class-action lawsuit can ask for damages of $1,000 per person, which Rosen said can add up quickly. Additionally, claimants commonly ask for attorney’s fees, court costs, and punitive damages, which are meant to punish the employer and deter future wrongdoing.
Class-action participants may pursue penalties for basic FCRA violations, such as failing to use FCRA forms or provide applicants with proper notice before making an adverse decision based on the results of the investigation.
“Millions and millions of dollars have exchanged hands because of these things,” Rosen said. He suggested that employers ensure all their forms have been reviewed by legal counsel, because it’s ultimately the employer’s—not the screening firm’s—duty to use compliant forms.
A number of states, counties, and municipalities have some form of “ban-the-box” laws that prohibit employers from asking about criminal history on job applications. Employers in these jurisdictions must wait until a later point in the hiring process to ask.
These laws are meant to combat the stigma attached to incarceration. Rosen noted that employment is the number one tool used to reduce recidivism—the tendency of a person with a criminal record to reoffend.
“Don’t use credit reports across the board,” Rosen said. Some U.S. states prohibit the use of credit reports for hiring decisions, and others have very specific rules on how employers can obtain and use such reports.
Employers should be able to show the business necessity and job relevancy of credit history information.
Additionally, employers should be aware of state and local laws that ban or limit questions about salary history. Determining a new hire’s pay based on prior compensation may perpetuate disparities, Rosen explained.
These laws are meant to combat gender discrimination and other forms of bias that result in pay inequity.
Reposted from ArtNews
Last night, the Fire Department of New York was called to the Whitney Museum, where a fire had broken out in the lobby. The fire took place around 8:30 p.m., after the museum was closed to the public for the day.
“On Thursday evening, a small, contained fire in the lobby of The Whitney Museum of American Art was discovered and quickly extinguished,” a museum spokesperson said in a statement. “There were no injuries and no art works were damaged. The Whitney expresses its gratitude to the FDNY for their swift response.”
The museum’s statement did not specify what had caused the fire, although the New York Post reported that the FDNY said that sparking wires had initiated the small blaze.
The Whitney plans to open to the public at 12 p.m. today, about an hour and a half after it normally would on a Friday. On Twitter, the Whitney said it would allow ticket holders who planned to enter the museum before then to reschedule their visit.
The fire came as the museum was installing this year’s edition of the Whitney Biennial, a recurring survey of contemporary art that is considered the institution’s most important show and the one of the biggest shows in the United States. On social media yesterday, the museum posted video of art handlers installing an Alia Farid work a the sixth-floor outdoor area. Curated by David Breslin and Adrienne Edwards, and featuring 63 artists, from Lisa Alvarado to Kandis Williams, the Whitney Biennial is slated to open on April 6.
Reposted from The Art Newspaper
More than 20 museums and institutions from across France including the Louvre, the Musée du Quai Branly—Jacques Chirac and the Bibliothèque Nationale de France (national library) have donated emergency supplies to Ukrainian museums to help them protect their collections against destruction.
A truck carrying 15 tonnes worth of packing and preservation materials—ranging from crates and bubble wrap to fire extinguishers and blankets—left Paris earlier this week for Warsaw, where Polish cultural professionals are organising rapid relief efforts for their counterparts across the border in Ukraine.
The aid initiative was co-ordinated by the French national committee of the International Council of Museums (Icom), which launched an urgent callout for materials to its members after a virtual meeting on 8 March between French and Ukrainian museum professionals. Juliette Raoul-Duval, the chair of the Icom France committee, says the “most important” request from Ukrainian museums was for conservation materials to support staff on the ground who are moving collections into basements or other storage locations for safety.
The art transportation company Chenue volunteered its services free of charge, with its warehouse in Paris serving as a central collection point for donations from museums in the capital but also from the regions, including Lille, Rouen, Rennes, Nantes, Bordeaux and Strasbourg. The outpouring of support shows that French museums large and small stand in solidarity with besieged colleagues in Ukraine, Raoul-Duval says. “It’s a big emotion for us—it’s a way to understand how strong our network is.”
Raoul-Duval says there is still “enough material in the warehouse to fill another truck”, which could travel to Poland as soon as next week. The first delivery was unloaded yesterday at the National Institute of Cultural Heritage in Warsaw, which is in direct contact with Ukrainian museums and distributing resources according to their needs.
In the longer term, the French Icom committee is exploring avenues to help museum professionals from Ukraine wishing to start a new life in France, Raoul-Duval says. Many French museums are “ready to welcome” refugees, she says. “Everybody wants to move quickly and to help.”
Earlier this month, the French culture ministry announced a new €1m fund supporting work and study placements for refugee Ukrainian artists and arts professionals, as well as “dissident Russian artists”.
Karissa Francis has seen her fair share of drama in the seven years she has worked as a visitor services assistant in museum lobbies.
Patrons whose tickets have gone missing or don’t agree with pandemic mask requirements have been known to be quite vocal in their frustration. But she had not witnessed anything close to what happened Saturday afternoon at the Museum of Modern Art, where two employees were stabbed by a man after the institution revoked his membership.
“The way it happened felt almost worse than my worst fear,” said Francis, who works at the Whitney Museum of American Art and saw video of the attack. “The way he just rushed into the lobby — there is something so personal about the way he stabbed them as opposed to another sort of violence. It adds an extra layer of terror.”
Given the rarity of violence within museums, most are protected by security guards who are typically unarmed and capable of detecting and responding to events — but they are not equipped to do more than report an intruder with a weapon.
The Museum of Modern Art did not respond to questions about its security arrangements but the guard who responded Saturday — and threw something that looked like a binder at the attacker to distract him — did not appear to have a weapon.
Some cultural institutions have panic buttons at their ticketing locations that alert management and perhaps a few security officers with guns posted near main entrances, said Steven Keller, who has worked in museum security for more than 40 years and advises organizations like the Smithsonian Institution and the National Gallery of Art in Washington. But few guards are armed, for obvious reasons, he said.
“The last thing you want is a gunfight with 5,000 kids present,” Keller said.
As for whether museums might install bulletproof glass around their greeters following the MoMA stabbing, that is also unlikely, he said, given the rarity of such an event and museums’ interest in presenting a welcoming face.
Drew Neckar, a security consultant, agreed that acts of violence are so rare at museums that the industry standard for New York museums -— and office buildings in the city — is that security personnel are typically unarmed.
Guns involve “more risks and huge expenses,” Neckar said. “Scheduling someone with arms is twice or three times more expensive because of training and liability fees.”
Typically MoMA and the Metropolitan Museum of Art have armed New York City police officers outside their main entrances during visitor hours. But security experts said the attack on Saturday by an assailant who entered through a side door unfolded so quickly that there was little time for anyone to react. The man immediately jumped over the ticketing desk, cornering three people behind a desk and began jabbing and swinging his knife, injuring one employee in the neck and another in the left collar bone. The museum guard then attempted to distract him. A witness said that the attacker asked the guard where his gun was before fleeing.
On Tuesday, the New York Police Department announced that a suspect in the stabbings, Gary Cabana, had been arrested in Philadelphia. The museum released a statement hours later, saying, “We’re relieved and grateful that our colleagues are recovering, and the attacker was arrested.”
Though violent acts are rare, officials at several museums around the county said that the MoMA attack had certainly raised concerns. “We are reinforcing our safety procedures throughout the museum in light of what happened at MoMA,” said Norman Keyes, a spokesman for the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Maida Rosenstein, the president of Local 2110, a chapter of the United Automobile Workers union that includes MoMA’s visitor services employees, said that workers at the museum are still on edge. Next week, union leaders hope to conduct a health and safety inspection of the museum to see what, if any, extra measures might be installed to protect workers from a future attack. Rosenstein said the museum has also hired counselors to support its staff members and is reviewing procedures.
“We want to push for measures that would improve workplace safety,” Rosenstein said, adding that she has spoken to other museums where she represents workers, like the Guggenheim, about security. “Our concentration is currently on supporting our members.”
Like many other museums, MoMA has experienced a staffing shortage in its security department after offering early retirement packages after the coronavirus pandemic hit. It is unclear how many security guards the museum now has because the museum declined to answer that question this week.
In the industry, guards and visitor guides are typically on the lower end of the pay scale and the brutal attack highlighted the potential risk associated with public-facing jobs at a time when many museum employees have joined new labor unions in pursuit of higher wages.
The starting hourly wage for guards at MoMA, who have long been represented by Local 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union, is $21.65. The Metropolitan Museum of Art administrators recently increased the starting wage for guards to $16.50 from $15.51 an hour. A Met spokesman said that over the last month, the museum had bolstered its security staff to 340 with the hiring of 40 new guards, who have been represented for years by Local 1503 of District Council 37, a union primarily for public employees.
Guards at the Seattle Art Museum only announced in January their intention to create a collective bargaining unit to pursue higher wages, better benefits and improved safety protocols.
Josh Davis, a Seattle Art Museum guard and an organizer of a potential new union, said that like museum security staffs around the country, the MoMA attack had led guards at his institutions to review their own protocols. Davis said the system in Seattle for handling potentially dangerous patrons relies on chain-of-command approval that may be too slow for resolving immediate threats. He added that the loss of longtime security officers during the pandemic has prevented new employees from learning best practices from more senior guards.
But the Seattle museum defended its practices, saying in a statement that its safety measures include Plexiglas shields installed as barriers at the ticketing desk, preparedness training for a variety of circumstances, including instructions to “radio for backup support should a visitor become agitated or overtly aggressive.” Next week, it said, staff members will begin to receive de-escalation training.
“The Seattle Art Museum,” the statement said, “takes the safety and security of our staff and facilities very seriously and will continue to do so, especially in light of the horrific incident at MoMA this past weekend.”
Reposted from The Washington Post
Housed in the Virginia Museum of Natural History in Martinsville, the Cultural Heritage Monitoring Lab is the museum world’s version of a war room: a network of computers, satellite feeds and phones that represents one of the newest tools being employed to protect national treasures threatened by natural disasters or geopolitical events.
Created last year in partnership with the Smithsonian Institution Cultural Rescue Initiative — a world leader in this field — the lab is compiling imagery of Ukraine’s cultural sites to help track attacks on them. The goal is to quickly alert officials in Ukraine of damage, in case action can be taken — perhaps to protect artifacts exposed to the elements, or to board up stained-glass windows in the wake of a direct hit on a church — and to document the devastation.
“It’s a 24/7 operation,” director and archaeologist Hayden Bassett said, adding that the staff of six has been working 12 and 18 hours at a stretch to maintain their rapid response. “Even though we might not be staring at a screen at 3 a.m., our satellites are imaging at 3 a.m.”
Using their database of 26,000 cultural heritage sites — including historic architecture, cultural institutions such as museums and archives, houses of worship and places of archaeological significance — Bassett and his team of art historians, analysts and techies have identified several hundred potential impacts in the conflict’s first few weeks.
As the world watches Ukrainians sandbagging their statues, boarding up historic structures and moving valuable artwork underground, Bassett is scouring the landscape to rapidly identify the latest targets.
“We can do something right now, with the methods we built, the lab we built, to get information to the people who need it most,” Bassett said.
The imaging lab is part of a network of trained museum and archaeological professionals all over the world who have mobilized to help their colleagues under attack in Ukraine, said Corine Wegener, director of the Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative. The Smithsonian office is the nerve center for a network of dozens of organizations, including the Prince Claus Fund, a nongovernmental cultural organization in the Netherlands; the International Council of Museums in Paris; the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City; and many museums and museum workers in Europe.
“So far, it’s mainly teaching materials and advice. Not much can be done as the bombing continues,” Wegener said of her office’s early interventions. “We are asking our colleagues ‘What do you need?’ We are trying to coordinate efforts … sitting down and saying, ‘Here’s what we can commit. What do you have?' ”
Museum leaders in Ukraine are grateful, said Ihor Poshyvailo, director of the Maidan Museum in Kyiv, who co-founded the Heritage Emergency Response Initiative to organize the local rescue effort.
“We do feel the support of the international community on different levels. International organizations like UNESCO, ICOM [the International Council of Museums], Blue Shield and separate institutions,” said Poshyvailo, who is on ICOM’s Disaster Risk Management Committee. “I have friends from different museums and, on an individual level, people are trying to help.”
For example, Metropolitan Museum of Art conservators made smartphone videos for museum workers in Ukraine that demonstrate basic techniques used to pack priceless artifacts for transport or to wrap them in place. (The majority of museum conservators are women, and many in Ukraine have been evacuated, leaving other museum workers to pick up their tasks.) Elsewhere, tech wizards are archiving websites and digital assets to counter Russian cyberattacks. Others are playing matchmaker, connecting museums in Europe that might have storage space with Ukrainian institutions whose collections are vulnerable, or trucks with supplies that can be sent to the front lines. Another focus is securing the country’s digital cultural assets: scholarly research, archives and collections data, among other things.
“You don’t want to lose that research, or collections databases,” Wegener said about helping to move them to cloud-based storage.
The Met is one of the many institutions that work with the Smithsonian on this effort. The museum doesn’t have a team of experts on par with Wegener and her crew, but its commitment to protect world culture is just as strong, said Lisa Pilosi, the Sherman Fairchild conservator in charge of objects conservation.
As a member of the International Council of Museums’ Disaster Risk Management Committee, Pilosi has participated in meetings to help Ukraine.
“So much mobilization is going on around the world,” Pilosi said. “It’s not easy. There are international organizations and communications exist, but the best thing we can do is help the colleagues we know tap into these existing networks.”
Everyone is anxious to help, but it is still early in the process. UNESCO has yet to release an official list of organizations who are assisting. Funds are coming for supplies, and trucks are lining up to transport them. It’s hard to balance the desire to contribute with the patience to wait until the aid is most useful.
“The Blue Shield is active. Prince Claus has sent funds to various places,” Pilosi said, referring to the international network committed to protecting cultural sites around the world. “The challenge is to assess what is already happening and not to duplicate efforts.”
“We have to take our proper place in the overall response,” she added, noting that humanitarian aid remains the top priority. “Our strength is going to be in the longer-term recovery.”
The Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative, born during the institution’s response to the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, has become the field’s leader by training museum workers around the world in crisis preparation and response and providing resources and marshaling support in places such as Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Some individuals in Ukraine that they are communicating with, including Poshyvailo, have gone through their training, Wegener said.
Poshyvailo adapted the Smithsonian emergency response training for his Ukraine institutions and has used its policies for the Heritage Emergency Rescue Initiative. They have surveyed museums and other institutions, asking what they need and for evidence of cultural property being lost or damaged, he said.
“We tried to think strategically, not only about urgent needs, but what action will be needed tomorrow and the day after tomorrow,” he said.
Now in Lviv, in western Ukraine, he is working to support the Ministry of Culture in creating an inventory of cultural institutions and collections, while responding to reports of damage around the country. Many of the reports are difficult to confirm because of ongoing violence, he said.
Wegener and others were advising Ukraine museums to protect their collections, which he said was difficult to do in advance. “It can cause panic,” he said, “and the general political message was we should prepare only on a military level.”
The data and photographic documentation from the Virginia lab will be useful in the future, he said. He and others in Ukraine are compiling a similar list. “It’s very primitive,” he said. “This will be very helpful.”
Crimea and eastern Ukraine were an early focus of the monitoring lab because of the ongoing conflict there, said Damian Koropeckyj, who started last April as senior analyst and team lead for Ukraine.
“We wanted to look there first to see if cultural heritage was being impacted during what I would describe as a warm conflict,” he said.
His early research found examples of monuments destroyed by the fighting that were being replaced by new ones supporting Russia and its version of the area’s cultural heritage. That led to the larger project of creating an inventory for the entire country, an initiative that became more important as the potential of a Russian invasion grew.
“We’re a remote project. But it’s certainly very real to me. Believing we can make a difference here is important,” Koropeckyj said.
Since the invasion last month, the lab has tracked artillery and other military strikes using satellite sensors, including infrared technology, matching the impacts against the lab’s mapped cultural heritage inventory. If a strike seems close to a site, they pull satellite images or, through the Smithsonian, direct a satellite to capture images of the area.
Speed is critical, even at this stage, Bassett said. As an example, he posed a scenario of a museum taking a direct hit. “If there’s a giant hole in the roof, you’re now exposed to the elements. During this short period, we’ve seen snowfall and other weather events. Imagine it’s snowing into a museum,” he said. “You’re also exposed to security concerns, exposed to looting. And the building is now vulnerable to further deterioration.”
“It is basically on the clock for further damage,” he said. “We can assist in immediate identification, and minimize the time to response. That’s one of the more pragmatic reasons” for the work.
The documentation has long-term value, too, Wegener said. The military action that is damaging Ukraine’s cultural heritage violates the Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, known as the 1954 Hague Convention. Both Russia and Ukraine signed the UNESCO treaty, and therefore, are responsible for protecting cultural sites, art and books, and scientific collections.
“It can be used for legal accountability,” Wegener said about the visual documentation. “We are working on documentation to show crimes against them.”
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