Heritage Response Team Training – Session 4

By Elyse Driscoll

The fourth training session for Alliance for Response, NYC‘s Heritage Response Team took place on Sunday, October 19th in MoMA’s Celeste Bartos Theater. This session focused on documentation and damage assessment and included presentations from representatives of Heritage Preservation and the American Institute for Conservation – Collections Emergency Response Team (AIC-CERT).

The first presentation was given by Steve Pine, Conservator of Decorative Arts at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and an active member of AIC-CERT. Steve discussed the history of AIC-CERT, which was formed after hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated the Gulf Coast in 2005. At that time, collections care professionals recognized the need to create a uniformly trained team to respond to the needs of cultural institutions during an emergency. In 2007, the Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation of Artistic and Historic Works (FAIC) received funding from the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to develop a series of advanced workshops to train conservators and other museum and library professionals. Members were trained in the Incident Command System (ICS), health and safety, deployment exercises and recovery techniques. Presently, AIC-CERT consists of more than 100 members across the nation in a variety of disciplines. They provide collecting institutions with advice and referrals through their 24-hour hotline and through email correspondence. On-site assistance may also be requested. AIC-CERT has been a model for the Heritage Response Team and we are currently modifying some of their protocols to accommodate the unique needs of New York City’s cultural institutions, galleries, and artists.

Steve’s presentation included case studies of AIC-CERT’s recovery efforts after several incidents including the earthquake in Port au Prince, Haiti in 2010, the flooding in the Mid-West in 2011, and Superstorm Sandy in New York and New Jersey in 2012.  He shared what he and other team members learned from those experiences and provided valuable and practical advise to our team members. He stressed the importance of coordinating with civil authorities, creating an organized database of contacts and trained professionals, establishing funding for travel and supplies, and the screening and training of volunteers.

While you might be tempted to reach for your laptop or tablet, Steve recommends paper notepads and graphite pencils for on-site documentation because there is typically limited access to electricity and electronic tools during an emergency.  AIC-CERT has also developed form sheets for responders to efficiently assess damage and communicate the needs of an institution. A number of publications, tips, and resources related to response and recovery can be found on the websites of Alliance for Response, NYC and  AIC.

The next presentation was given by Lori Foley, Vice President of Emergency Programs at Heritage Preservation. Heritage Preservation is an organization dedicated to preserving the cultural, historic, and scientific heritage of the United States.  The Heritage Emergency National Task Force is a partnership of national service organizations and federal agencies and is co-sponsored by Heritage Preservation and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The Task Force was established in 1995 to protect the nation’s cultural heritage from natural disasters and other emergencies. Lori discussed the various goals of Task Force, which include assisting cultural institutions with emergency planning and preparedness, risk evaluation, response and recovery, and obtaining resources such as supplies, contractors, conservation specialists, and federal funding. The website of the Heritage Emergency National Task Force offers numerous tools and information to cultural institutions and the general public for preparing for and responding to emergencies that affect collections.

Lori also guided the Heritage Response Team through a “Hotline Intake Exercise” where members practiced responding to incoming calls. Disaster scenarios ranged from severe weather conditions to hazardous materials spills and involved different types of institutions such as art museums, historic houses, and municipal offices. A key takeaway from this exercise was to remain flexible in our response. In addition to collecting pertinent information regarding the extent of damage and the institution’s level of preparedness, Lori also reminded us to consider the emotional state of those involved in the event. The Heritage Response Team will play an advisory role during an emergency and we will be recommending resources and best practices to help individuals and institutions regain control of the situation and begin to take steps towards making decisions.

Cynthia Albertson and Steve Pine demonstrate the proper way to

Cynthia Albertson and Steve Pine demonstrate the proper way to “suit up” prior to entering the site of an emergency.

The training session concluded with Steve Pine and Cynthia Albertson, Project Manager for Alliance for Response NYC, demonstrating the proper way to “suit up” when entering a site to assess damage. As you can see in the image to the left, Cynthia models Tyvek coveralls, a dust mask, and nitrile gloves. Note that her wrists and ankles are sealed with tape. Steve recommends putting on your personal protective equipment in a “cold zone,”  an area that is away from the “hot zone,” which is the site of the emergency or disaster.  Protective equipment should be removed in a transitional zone, somewhere between the hot zone and the cold zone. It is also best to have another person help you put on and remove your gear.  

Heritage Response Team Training – session 3

by Jessica Pace

On Saturday, October 4th, the Heritage Response Team had its third training session. The topic was “Re-entry After a Disaster.”

In the morning, Bob Sonderman, Senior Staff Archaeologist at the National Park Service (NPS), spoke about his experience with disaster response at National Park Service locations.

Mr. Sonderman gave a brief introduction to NPS’s Museum Emergency Response Team (MERT). Members are trained in CPR, first aid, and the Incident Command System (ICS), and the group is composed of general museum personnel, a conservator, a maintenance specialist, among others. Members of the team are assigned go bags specific to each person’s skills. In general though, go bags contain a hard hat, mask, headlamp, tools, and official MERT gear.

Bob Sonderman showing pictures of MERT go bags.

Bob Sonderman showing pictures of MERT go bags.

Mr. Sonderman recommended for every collection to draw up a Museum Emergency Operations Plan (MEOP), which is geared at first assessing, then managing the risks involved in potential disasters. The MEOP includes: a call list of team members; emergency procedures and salvage priorities; and equipment, services, and supplies, among other things. For resources on creating an emergency plan for your institution, NPS, the American Alliance of Museum, and the Getty Institute all provide helpful guidelines.

All collections should have an emergency operations plan.

All collections should have an emergency operations plan.

Mr. Sonderman then spoke about his experience preparing for and responding to disasters wrought by hurricanes Isabel, Katrina, and Sandy. In terms of preparing for a foreseeable disaster, an emergency management firm can be booked ahead of time. Usually one has 4 – 5 days to prepare in advance of a hurricane. In the case of Hurricane Isabel, which hit the Colonial National Historic Park in Jamestown, Virginia, in 2003, the emergency management firm BMS CAT was able to supply power generators, ventilation, and dehumidification.   Most of the collection at Jamestown was stored in the basement, which was heavily flooded. Without power, the team relied on the generators, other supplies, and personnel from BMS CAT to evacuate the waterlogged collection. They also rented a freezer truck to temporarily store archival records and protect them from mold.

In the case of Katrina, the collection in the French Quarter was not flooded, but materials were evacuated because the power outage compromised their environment and security

A key takeaway from these examples is the importance of having maps of a collection posted in multiple locations, as well as having multiple people who know where materials are located. Also, ingenious use of simple materials contributed immensely to in the teams’ success in these disasters. For example: propping museum cabinets on pieces of polyethylene helped to elevate the collection off the floor and made cabinets easier to move; shrink wrapping cabinets after the flood helped to make them easier to move during a quick evacuation.

Mr. Sonderman stressed the equal importance of preparing for personal safety when re-entering after a disaster. Keeping up with one’s tetanus shot is key, as floodwater is very dirty. Tripping and electrocution hazards, mold, and potentially poisonous pests like snakes and spiders are also common concerns.  It’s important to keep these hazards in mind when selecting appropriate footwear and personal protective equipment.

In the afternoon, members of the NYC Office of Emergency Management presented the second talk of the day on Light Search and Rescue Operations. The talk explained light search and rescue techniques that are practiced by the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). Team preparation – the first step in a light search and rescue operation – involves planning (assessing potential risks, needs, and resources) and developing an action plan. It also involves training in the form of classroom and hands-on drills, as well as tabletop exercises.

OEM representative discusses light search and rescue objectives.

OEM representative discusses light search and rescue objectives.

On site, rescuers are asked to gather facts pertaining to the disaster, identify potential causes of secondary collapse, and assess the level of damage to the building to decide whether it is safe to enter. Only buildings with light structural damage (i.e. cosmetic damage like broken windows and fallen plaster) may be entered.

OEM representatives stressed that safety is a crucial concern. In addition to unstable structures, and collapse zones, hazards that are commonly encountered include: sharp objects, dust, gas and/or power lines, high water, and fire. Safety equipment required by CERT include: helmet and vest, goggles and dust mask, whistle, leather work gloves, flashlight, spray paint, appropriate clothing, and official OEM CERT identification.

Personal safety is closely linked with having a well-developed search and rescue plan. OEM representatives presented helpful suggestions for making plans that take into account extra or insufficient resources or personnel, as well as one that involves specialists such as carpenters and electricians. Presenters also emphasized the importance of working in teams to decrease the likelihood of becoming disoriented or trapped in a secondary collapse – the two most frequent causes of rescuer death, as well as utilizing systematic and well documented search techniques.

Search methodology should aim to be thorough, systematic, and well documented.

Search methodology should aim to be thorough, systematic, and well documented.

The primary function of the team is to create a safe environment and to remove or to stabilize victims while they await further assistance.  Presenters emphasized the importance of keeping a detailed record of the victims – including them logging in, keeping track of transfers, and noting the type of injury sustained – to ensure a smooth transfer of command.

In addition to searching for and rescuing victims, other CERT roles at a search and rescue operation might include community outreach and information dissemination, locating shelters and assisting with food distribution, item retrieval, liaising with response agencies, and area traffic management.

At the end of this very informative session, selected HRT members presented and discussed the contents of their go bags.

Heritage Response Team Training – Session 2

By Elyse Driscoll

On Saturday September 20th, the Heritage Response Team reconvened in the Celeste Bartos Theater of the Museum of Modern Art for a training session dedicated to health and safety.

The first two presentations were by Monona Rossol, the President and founder of Arts, Crafts, and Theater Safety (ACTS), a non-profit organization dedicated to providing health and safety to the arts. She is a chemist, artist and industrial hygienist and has served as the Health and Safety Director for Local 829 of the United Scenic Artists, International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) and as an instructor for the American Institute of Conservation’s Collections Emergency Response Team (AIC-CERT). Monona specializes in occupational health and safety training for art, theater and museum professionals in the United States and Canada. Her recent presentations for the Heritage Response Team were extremely informative and her sharp sense of humor made for a fun training session.

During her first presentation, “Health and Safety Issues Associated with Disasters”, Monona discussed regulations enforced by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA’s mission is to assure safe workplaces by enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance. An institution’s disaster strategy is required to be in compliance with federal laws and regulations and must be in writing if the institution employs more than ten people. Many emerging professionals may be interested to know that OSHA does not protect volunteers, interns, or independent contractors.

For additional information on how to minimize health and safety risks visit the websites of The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the American Conference of Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) and the American Institute of Conservation (AIC). These organizations offer additional information and benefits to their members.

In her second presentation “Precautions and Equipment for Disaster Environments”, Monona discussed the safety standards for personal protective equipment. Her advice is to purchase equipment that meets the most recent standards. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) establish performance criteria and testing requirements for devices used to protect individuals from workplace hazards such as impact, optical radiation and exposure to biological hazards, chemicals, fine dust and particulates. It is important to select the proper equipment including protective eyewear, clothing, footwear, hard hats, gloves and respirators (fit testing is mandatory) for the specific hazards you may encounter during disaster recovery efforts.

In addition to personal protective gear, Monona recommended supplies such as two-way radios and landlines for communication, generators, emergency lighting (consider theatrical suppliers!), food, water, clothing, mattresses, and portable televisions for entertainment. Because some recovery and clean-up efforts require specialized training and certification, it may be helpful to have key personnel trained to assist with security, CPR, first aid, HAZCOM, safety and emotional support.

Be prepared to mobilize local resources in the event of an emergency! Monona strongly encouraged us to network with other organizations and institutions and to build relationships with local emergency responders and regulators such as fire marshals, building inspectors and health inspectors.

Our third presentation, “Physical and Psychological Effects of a Disaster” was by Marnie Suss, a representative from the New York City Office of Emergency Management (NYC OEM). Marnie offered advice on how to manage stress, how to care for yourself and others and how to communicate with individuals that have been affected by a disaster. She shared a wonderful animation of a lecture by Dr. Brené Brown entitled “The Power of Empathy”. The animation captured the essence of Marnie’s discussion, establishing the kind of connection that leads to healing.

The final presentation was conducted by two FDNY firefighters who were also representing OEM’s Community Emergency Response Team (NYC CERT), a community program designed to train people to prepare for, respond to, and recover from emergency situations in their neighborhoods. Their presentation “Minor First Aid” (not for the faint of heart!) focused on various injuries and tips for providing assistance and basic first aid until emergency authorities arrive. If you are interested in becoming a CERT volunteer in your community, click here for more information.

Heritage Response Team Training – Session 1

On Saturday, September 13th, I gathered with a group of approximately 50 people in the Celeste Bartos theater at the Museum of Modern Art for the first training session of the Heritage Response Team (HRT). The training is organized by NYC’s chapter of Alliance for Response (AFR), which promotes disaster preparedness within the New York arts community.  Attendants consisted mainly of conservators but also include administrators, archivists, librarians, security personnel, and artists, most of whom were motivated by personal experiences with emergencies in New York City.

The seven training sessions begin with the fundamentals of disaster preparedness and move toward the specifics of recovery collections after a disaster. The sessions are run (very smoothly I might add) by Cindy Albertson, Project Manager for AFR and an Assistant Conservator at MoMA, Beth Nunan, AFR co-chair and Associate Conservator at the American Museum of Natural History, and Derya Kovey, AFR co-chair and Associate Registrar at the New Museum. Each session is divided into multiple presentations by specialists who have been invited from all over the US.

During the first session, “Introductions and the Incident Command System,” we were introduced to AFR and the objectives of the HRT training. The day’s first presentation, by Herman Schaffer, Director of Community Outreach with the NYC Office of Emergency Management and CERT (NYC OEM for short), introduced the many OEM resources that help residents prepare for emergencies. For example, do you know which evacuation zone you live in? And no, this is not the same thing as the FEMA flood zone (which was news to me!). Well, you can click here to find out.  They also make nifty guides geared toward all kinds of emergencies and host a Readiness Challenge.

I found out that I don't live in a flood evacuation zone.

I found out that I don’t live in a flood evacuation zone.

The second presentations was by David Carmicheal, Director of Records and Information Management Atlanta Housing Authority, who literally wrote the book on implementing the Incident Command System (ICS) in cultural institutions. ICS is a streamlined and easily enforceable system of command that can be adapted to any emergency, large or small. It supersedes and integrates all other response systems at the emergency site, thereby eliminating redundancy and reducing chaos. It is a widely used system that seems quite easy to learn, but I think takes much more practice to master. Curious about ICS?  You can learn more about it here through this free FEMA course!

At the end of the first session, I walked away with the lesson that all emergency responders had to be prepared for themselves and their families first and foremost, or else they will not have adequate time and resources to respond to emergencies elsewhere. So I went home and dutifully planned with my husband an emergency meeting place near our home, as well as a location where we will go near each of our work places.   OEM also recommended that we find friends who live in a different neighborhood to be our “emergency buddies” so that we can shelter at one another’s place.  Terrific idea, though our “emergency buddies” are still TBD. Any takers?

Finally, I volunteered to make a Go Bag to talk about during the next class.  It’s a bag with essential supplies that we keep on hand so that in an emergency, we can just grab it and be ready to go.  It actually took me a couple of weeks to assemble it  and I still need a few more supplies, but it was a fun process that really got me thinking about preparedness.  During my internet searches for emergency supply bags, I also found some apocalyptic “bug out bags” that are intriguing if not very practical in NYC. As you can probably guess, most of them involve a lot of weapons. I opted for granola bars instead.

Here is a picture of my Go Bag.  I have one in the apartment and one in the car.

FullSizeRenderHere is a list of the things in my Go Bag so far:

Water bottle, 1st aid kit, solar and crank powered AM/FM radio and flashlight, multitool, spork, hand warmers, glow sticks, mylar-lined ponchos, lighter, hurricane matches, can opener, iodine water purifying tablets, granola bars, pen, pencil, note pad, hygiene products (tooth brushes, tooth paste, etc.)

What I still need:

Batteries, an extra set of house keys, cash, glasses, a written list of contacts

The truth about the Nishapur ceramic

Collette Khanaferov (M.A. Candidate, 2nd year) UCLA/Getty Conservation Program

During my six week summer internship at the Brooklyn Museum, I was given the opportunity to examine and treat a 10th-11th century ceramic bowl from Nishapur, Iran. The object was a color-splashed ware footed bowl with a bird-like figure in the center. Upon arrival to the lab, the ceramic was fully intact with several signs of previous repair. As my examination moved forward, I would soon learn that what seemed to be a straightforward treatment would be anything but that.

CK blog image 1

The first step was to examine the bowl and any suspicious areas to get a better understanding of the object and its previous treatment. I soon discovered that several areas near the head of the animal seemed to have been rejoined and inpainted.

Ultraviolet illumination was used as a supplemental tool to better identify areas of repair and inpainting. Areas of the yellow/orange fluorescence that covered both the inside and the outside of the bowl appeared to be associated with the repaired areas.

CK blog image 2

The object was also x-rayed and the results proved that the ceramic, particularly near the head of the animal, was heavily fragmented. Some fragments were not even original to the bowl!

CK blog image 3

After gaining insight using non-destructive imaging, micro-chemical tests and solubility tests were conducted. A small sample of the adhesive was taken and tested positive for protein, most likely an animal glue. The yellow/orange fluorescence was soluble in water and ethanol while the white fluorescence was only soluble in ethanol. A solubility test of the interior of the bowl was also taken and suspected areas of inpainting/overpainting were soluble in ethanol.

Treatment:

The inpainting/overpainting on the interior of the bowl was gently removed with ethanol soaked cotton swabs. This removal revealed the mismatch of sherds and confirmed the suspected use of other ceramic sherds! Once all the inpainting and overpainting was removed, areas of white colored fill material were revealed. The fill material was gently removed with water soaked cotton swabs and a wooden dowel. After all the joins were exposed, deionized water soaked cotton poultices were placed along the break edges to reverse the joins.

CK blog image 4

Once disassembled, fragments were examined and original fragments were sorted from later additions. It was to my surprise that many of the fragments did not belong to the bowl and instead were from a similar type of ceramic. Following the consultation with the curator, Caitlin McKenna, it was decided to only reassemble fragments original to the bowl due to the uncertainty of an accurate representation of the central figure. Unfortunately, this treatment would leave 1/3rd of the bowl missing. Even so, original sherds and extraneous were consolidated but only the original were rejoined. To stabilize several of the joins, bulked Paraloid B-72 with glass micro-balloons was used to fill three voids. Although currently fragmented and incomplete, conservators and curators now have a true representation of the Nishapur ceramic.

CK blog image 5

Event Posting: Science and Art Symposium IV at Pratt Institute

What: Science and Art Symposium IV: The Science of Artists’ Materials, Techniques, and Conservation

When: April 2-4, 2014

Where: Pratt Institute, Brooklyn Campus, 200 Willoughby Avenue, Brooklyn, NY

Scientists, conservators, and art historians will speak about examination and analysis of a variety of materials on April 2nd & 3rd.  Workshops on portable XRF/XRD, portable magnetic resonance, synthesizing Egyptian Blue, and lost wax casting will take place on April 4th.

Click on the links below for the event program and registration information.

Pratt Symposium Program

Pratt Symposium Registration Information

Aside

Posted by Jessica Pace

On October 12th and 13th, volunteers flocked to the Bergen County Historical Society (BCHS) in River Edge, New Jersey to conserve objects damaged by last fall’s Hurricane Sandy.  The event, an Angel’s Project organized by the New York Regional Association for Conservation (NYRAC), provided much needed aid to an organization still reeling from the storm’s aftermath.

Last fall, the Historical Society’s approximately 1,000 square-foot offsite storage facility was hard hit by Sandy’s floodwaters. The space had held numerous artifacts dating from New Jerseys’ colonial period to the present day. These materials include textiles, paintings, and documents, as well as everyday objects.

Objects that were salvaged from the flood suffered from exposure not only to moisture but also to numerous unknown waste materials carried by the floodwater. Fragile paintings and textiles were torn and stained. Organic materials were damaged by rapid mold-growth, while ferrous materials underwent equally rapid oxidative corrosion.

Volunteers at the Angel’s Project treated a group of thirty mostly mid-19th century household and farm-related objects, which included tools, chests, and children’s toys. Harriet Irgang Alden also treated an oil painting by the 19th century local artist Emile Stange.

Volunteers treating objects from the BCHS.

Volunteers treating objects from the BCHS.

All objects were cleaned to remove dust, grime, and residue from floodwater. Many objects also required removal of mold or iron oxide corrosion, and some required reattachment of broken elements.

Cleaning a painted cast iron toy.

Cleaning a painted cast iron toy.

After treatment, the objects were wrapped in acid-free tissue paper and placed into boxes for temporary storage in the attic of the Steuben House, one of three structures located at the Historical Society.  Treatment reports, as well as before and after treatment images generated from the project will be entered into the BCHS database.

Manacles before treatment.

Manacles before treatment.

Manacles after treatment.

Manacles after treatment.

Cast iron toy before treatment.

Cast iron toy before treatment.

Cast iron toy after treatment.

Cast iron toy after treatment.

The project is spearheaded by Gary McGowan, NYRAC’s president, in collaboration with Kevin Wright and Deborah Powell, both past presidents of BCHS. Equipment was donated by Gary McGowan and the Alliance for Response. The approximately fifteen participants in the Angel’s project include practicing conservators, conservation students, as well as graduate students in museum studies.

Regardless of background, participants came away with a richer understanding of Bergen County history and an appreciation for the effort of the Historical Society in its preservation. No doubt many also appreciated the brief foray away from the city and into the slice of nature in which the BCHS is situated, as well as the sunny weather that allowed them to work outdoors.

Participants on Saturday, October 12th.

Participants on Saturday, October 12th. From left to right: Moses Mkumpha, Brittany Venturella, Esther Rydzik, Jacqueline DeLuca, Keira Gruber, Danielle Pace, Julia Sybalsky, Karen Zipf, Gary McGowan.

Participants on Sunday, October 13th.

Participants on Sunday, October 13th. From left to right: Jessica Pace, Harriet Irgang Alden, Shannon Mulshine, Stephanie Liff, Kim Weglarz, Karen Zipf, Jacqueline DeLuca, Gary McGowan.

The Angel’s Project in the news!  Read about the project here:

NorthJersey.com

NJ.com