4th November:

AFROA’s actions to raise awareness of risk management for collections
Anne-Laure Rameau, AFROA & Anaïs Desneaux, AFROA

GASP – Assistance group in the event of Heritage / Emergency, a outside helper to museum for risk management
Anthony Zurawski, La Fabrique de patrimoines en Normandie, Caen

Emergency Plan for the collections of the Museion in Bolzano, Italy
Francesca Peyron, Mazzini Lab Società Benefit, Rome & Cristina Ferretti, Museion, Museo di Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Bolzano

Cyber Attacks! The risks and lessons learnt
Jen Kaines, Royal Armouries, Leeds, United Kingdom & Katie Robson, Royal Armouries, Leeds, United Kingdom

Risk Management sessions on 4th November 2022. Presentations available here

This was a particularly timely session given we are reviewing our Risk Registers in the context of new ways of working post pandemic and our response to the climate emergency.

The session was introduced by Willis Towers Watson, who gave brief talk entitled The Art of the Broker, introducing the three core risk areas – human, economic and natural.  This set the scene for the presentations which followed, and interesting to note number 3, natural,  increasingly coming to the fore in response to the heightened awareness and active responses to climate change.  So onto the presentations …

The first two covered collaborative initiatives at national and regional levels in France.  Anne-Laure Rameau and Anais Desnaux presented a description of AFROA’s actions to raise awareness of risk management for collections through creation of a Cultural Heritage Conservation (Emergency) Plan.  This is a national collaborative exercise using a combination of study days and workshops in Paris, following which smaller groups met in different regions of France, each group having a different focus and covering topics such as:

  • Integration of the plan through automation and computerization of tasks
  • Know your vulnerability
  • Organize the emergency response
  • Integration with building management
  • Acquire legal and insurance tools
  • Networking
  • Psychological Care

This was followed by another collaborative project, Groupe d’Aide en cas de Sinistre Patrimonial (GASP), which brings together cultural heritage organisations which can provide practical assistance and equipment in the event of an emergency.   The presentation was given by Anthony Zurawski, French Historian and risk management specialist who is now in charge of GASP. 120 museums in Normandy are involved in the network, the starting point being the impact of war on cultural objects.  Developing the plan had involved collecting testimonies from veterans and survivors and put into practise via support for Ukrainian heritage organisations.  This bringing together of conservators, registrars and art transport companies resulted in 4 convoys delivering 60 tonnes of equipment to the Polish border.  Whilst this support continues, there is a new focus on climate change. GASP work with their partners raising awareness through questions around the possible effects of storms, floods, wind damage etc, and applying risk analytics – some of which arose out of Covid and what happens to a collection when there is no-one on site for extended periods of time. They work on prevention methodologies, provide training programmes, assist on site with inventories, advice on conservation, systems and equipment, and, look for partners to work with on a local and/or national level.  Other achievements include a container full of equipment which can travel to any site, emergency flood kits are available to all museums in Normandy.  A couple of key takeaways were working with the fire service to ensure they understand our lexicon and giving first responders room plans with pictograms of which objects need to be prioritised.  This might seem obvious to many but we’re still working with salvage lists!

The session then shifted gear from national/regional collaborative projects to case studies from two institutions, MUSEION, the Museum for Modern and Contemporary Art in Bolzano, and, the Royal Armouries.  Francesca Peyron and Cristina Ferretti presented their approach to risk analysis and development of an emergency plan for MUSEION.  This was a 9 month project ensuring the process of planning, assessment and review of the emergency plan becomes part of the everyday routine of the museum – everyone is involved in risk management and everyone is given a task.  The aim was to change the mindset of the museum i.e. move from the museum = the sum of its exhibitions to the museum = the sum of everything inside, a living object.  Focussing on Prevention – Preparedness – Response – Recovery, the project undertook identification and workflow analysis of  the activities which need to be implemented in the event of an emergency.  This  also provided MUSEION with an opportunity to improve collections management procedures and efficiency.  

Finally, Jen Kaines and Katie Robson from the Royal Armouries shared their experience of a serious cyber attack.  This was a sobering presentation given the significantly increased levels of digital and remote working in response to the pandemic – regarded as the silver lining in the Covid19 cloud!  The severity of the attack meant that IT systems were unavailable for two months.  The Royal Armouries emergency plan only covered the first 48 hours of an IT or power outage not business continuity for several weeks.  Having no access to email, contacts, collections management systems, environmental data etc and having to consider sensitive information may have been shared by the attackers led to a review of emergency and business contingency plans, looking at questions around how personal data is shared securely e.g. separating personal and professional data where possible, use of electronic signatures, backing up contact lists and use of other mailing systems, the need to retain hard copy templates for essential documents, reviewing IT equipment and electronic systems, and, perhaps most importantly the need to communicate effectively with both internal and external stakeholders. 

This was an informative session underlining the need for us review our risk management ensuring we include the new or heightened risks resulting from climate change, and we consider not just the physical risks with which we are all familiar, but those associated with the cyber world and the risks we can’t see.

Janice Slater, National Galleries