When the Museum Association of the Caribbean (MAC) met in Trinidad from October 21-25, one programmed topic was museum planning with emergencies in mind. And even as MAC Past President Nigel Sadler was presenting on the topic, Hurricane Sandy was churning arcoss the Caribbean towards Jamaica, home of the University of the West Indies (UWI) Museum.
Curator Suzanne Francis-Brown, in Trinidad for the conference, listened closely to the list of basic areas for attention, even as colleagues from the UWI Archives were overseeing some of the self-same preparations at the UWI Museum. (UWI Museum and UWI Archives are collaborating on the exhibition, titled “A Great Day for All. Celebration, Ceremony and Academic Dress at the UWI).
Sadler’s main points were to have thorough documentation for the objects in the museum’s collection, including data and images; to store objects securely; to know where everything is stored; and to back up the data files both on-site and off. He noted that water damage was the most common event, whether it was caused by direct or indirect events, with fire, theft and vandalism following.
At the UWI Museum, the collection is documented, on paper and virtually, though the formal database is still being planned. Emergency preparations for the new Regional HQ building within which the museum is located, apply equally to the museum. Nonetheless, precautions were in place as the following note from UWI Archives Deputy Curator Stanley Griffin indicated:
– open artifacts secured;
– historic records moved to the UWI Archive stacks for safekeeping;
– computers unplugged and secured;
– cases etc moved away from windows;
– building emergency requirements complied with.
Thanks to the UWI Archivists for keeping an eye. On to more planning, always with potential emergencies in mind – but hopefully not so close to the forefront!