Physical Security – Target Hardening Cultural Venues. 
Stuart Williams, Head of Security Consulting, BB7

Stuart Williams is the Security consultant for the Louvre Abu Dhabi which has been 10 years in the making. Since its inception, he has gone on to consult on the wider cultural sector growing in Abu Dhabi, including the new Guggenheim.

This case study presented the ideal security solution to the modern museum, which has the benefit of money, time and starting from scratch. The main take home points (as well as lots of lovely pictures of the new Abu Dhabi Museums):

  • Retro-fitting always costs more – plan for your ideal security solutions at the outset. 
  • Make security a priority in the original design brief. Architects will ignore you if the outline is not in the original brief. 
    • Think of location of windows – there are no windows on the ground floor of the Louvre Abu Dhabi 
    • Think of visitor entrances – the Louvre Abu Dhabi has two foot bridges crossing an expanse of water to prevent vehicle attacks 
    • Think of security screening for vehicles – the Louvre Abu Dhabi has an underground tunnel with several check points – if a bomb is in a vehicle it will go off underground and before it reaches the museum 
    • Think of Visitor out of hours access eg. for events – the Louvre Abu Dhabi has cleverly designed security gates across the site which can be locked after hours to prevent unauthorised access. They blend in with the design of the building but are impossible to climb over or force 
    • Think of surrounding area – Louvre Abu Dhabi was built with water on 3 sides; the ocean and a series of water features preventing easy access by boat. The local government security polices the water (may be a conservation issue but those medieval castles had moats for a reason!). During the early design stages they also moved a road and a canal away from the site.
  • Think about large object entry – can it be hidden/ disguised? 
  • Technology, Technology, Technology – will make your security efficient and seamless, but remember, it is only as good as the people using it! Think about Training and Education for your security team. 
  • The human element is always going to be the weak point in your security systems 
  • Form scenarios, such as forced entry, snatch and run etc – test your processes & procedures. 
  • Speed – on average the length of an attack from entry to exit will be under 3 minutes. How does this resonate with your Emergency Response Plan? 
  • VVIP’s can be patted down too! 

Emma Denness, Exhibitions Registrar, Royal Museums Greenwich