Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Friday, 5 January 2018

2017 ARCS (Association of Registrars and Collections Specialists) Conference

2017 Biennial Conference, November 3-5 Vancouver, BC

I was incredibly fortunate to be assigned one of two bursaries offered by the UKRG/Blackwall Green to attend the ARCS conference held in Vancouver last month.

Welcoming Address (day one)
ARCS are a relatively young organisation, only 5 years old but have a large membership of over 1,400 members from more than 33 countries. Its mission is to represent and promote Registrars and Collections Specialists nationally and internationally, to educate them in the professional best practices of registration and collections care, and to facilitate communication and networking. Upon registering and hearing that well over 700 people were attending the 3 day event it was clear there would be plenty of opportunities for this!

As well as great networking opportunities the conference had an excellent combination of talks on offer. The presentation about Heritage Without Borders and some case studies about repatriation projects were particularly inspiring. There were also very practical sessions which were useful for me such as ‘Working with artists from contract to close’ and ‘Beyond the Hard Drive: A Primer on Acquiring Digital Artworks’. The subject of managing born digital material was given quite a lot of focus over the three days and it was helpful to listen to some of the talks and feel reassured that my own organisation was following suit in this area.

UK Colleagues gather outside the conference room
A recurring theme from many of the presentations was the message that we are rarely alone in our decision making and that it is really important to reach out to colleagues and liaise with other institutions if you need to.


Alice Rymill, Registrar, Bristol Museums and Art Gallery

Thursday, 7 December 2017

IAASF: International Arts and Antiquities Security Forum

The International Arts and Antiquities Security Forum (IAASF) is a leading conference and exhibition dedicated to the protection of arts, antiquities and cultural heritage. Providing those involved in the protection and safe custody of buildings, artefacts and events with an understanding of existing and emerging threats that can impact them. This year Andy Davis, Chairman of IAASF, kindly invited UKRG Committee members to attend their 2-day conference at Kensington Olympia and as a group we wanted to feedback to the membership on the insightful and interesting talks we attended.
Adversarial Threats to the Arts, Antiquities and Cultural Heritage Sectors
Professor Erroll Southers, Managing Director – Tal Global Corporation
Our first talk of the day was delivered by Professor Erroll Southers, former FBI agent in counterterrorism, Professor of Practice of Governance at University of Southern California, Managing Director in counterterrorism and infrastructure protection at TAL Global Corporation to name but a few of his achievements.
Professor Southers delivered a fascinating talk focusing on the different types of threats cultural institutions are facing in today's world. Although theft continues to be a threat we must protect ourselves against, we are now becoming targets for ideological attacks. This can be in the form of physical attacks on cultural sites or through the sale of looted property to fund causes.
To mitigate the risk of these types of attacks, Professor Southers recommended sites ‘reverse engineer the plot’ in order to understand where their weaknesses may lie. He also recommended using external consultants to find information we, as institutions, don’t think can be found.
Importance of Planned Protection – Meeting GIS Standards
William Brown, National Security Advisor, Arts Council England
William Brown attended the conference and delivered a talk on meeting GIS standards and risks to be aware of when assessing venues. Things to consider included:

  • Site locations: remote locations may be at higher risk of theft as response times or even ability to respond may be significantly reduced.
  • Natural forces: although not a common occurrence in the UK we should be ensuring we consider venue locations in terms of typical weather, both domestic and internationally
    • Are they in an area susceptible to storms, floods, brush fires, earthquakes, volcanoes?
    • Athough not common the UK has experienced forest fires in recent years
  • Cyber threat: can venue information be accessed remotely? Is your site or the borrowing venue on Google Maps and how much can you see?
William also emphasized the reputational risks museums face should they be the victims of theft or damage, accidental or malicious. As an example, William discussed the recent cases of the Maple Leaf coin at the Bode Museum in Berlin and the University Museum of Bergen. Both situations were pventable using simple measures to ensure the security of collections. William highlighted the need to demonstrate a proactive, not reactive, approach to security whilst also highlighting the need for ongoing training. Museum staff need to be aware of their responsibility for museum collections and equipped with the skills and knowledge needed to protect them. 
Jenni Fewery, Assistant Registrar, Science Museum

IAASF: Protecting Cultural Venues from Fire

Protecting Cultural Venues from Fire
Stewart Kidd, MD Loss Prevention Consultancy Ltd.

Stewart Kidd kicked off after the break on the first day to speak about Protecting Cultural Venues from Fire, a topic which I think covers some of the worst nightmares of a registrar!

Stewart shocked us all to begin with by stating how at present there is no data for UK heritage properties fires, meanings that we don’t actually know how many heritage buildings are damaged or destroyed by fire each year. This is a statistic that Stewart is hoping to change, after personal research he believes that there has been approximately 600 fires in Scotland’s historic buildings alone.

To prevent a fire you must first know what main causes could be for example; arson, cooking, electrical equipment and contractors. Whilst fire services will advise you about the law, their first priority will always be humans and not objects. This is a legal compliance that must be considered.

Stewart continued by discussing in detail his opinions on fire suppression systems, stressing the point that you should choose your system carefully. Fire is of course very destructive but the impact of firefighting can also cause just as many problems, leaving a mess, water and stability/structural damage to the building. Powder systems Stewart believes will destroy everything and should not be used. Similarly foam provides no benefits, it is acidic and can cause environmental problems for a building. There are also several different suppression systems that require buildings to be airtight to work … as we all know, this is usually not possible with historic buildings! 

Overall Stewart is an ambassador for sprinkler systems in historic properties. He believes they are hugely effective and are particularly beneficial for buildings that are not attended very often. Sprinklers work on heat not spoke and there is a high probability of getting a property back to normal soon after a fire. It is important to not mix up sprinklers however with mist – insurance providers are yet to be convinced by mist systems. When considering installing sprinklers, which for many may seem far too much a risk particularly around works of fine art, consideration must be taken for restrictions that may delay the fire services; geographical location, routes, access and time.

Fire can destroy hundreds of years of history in a matter of minutes, is your fire suppression system up-to-date?

Ellie Saggers, Assistant Registrar, The Fitzwilliam Museum

IAASF: Effective use of personnel in protecting cultural venues

Effective use of personnel in protecting cultural venues
Andy Davis, Chair IAASF

Andy’s key message was that security is everyone’s responsibility.

When designing a security programme Andy suggested that you may wish to consider; 
  •  What you want it to look like 
  • Involvement of ALL departments – you will need to understand everyone’s needs to resolve all risks and threats to your cultural venue, other departments security priorities may be different to your own 
  • Physical, technical and operational possibilities
Andy continued by discussing how you must create fundamentals, what assets at your venue need protecting? Thinking not only about the risk but also vulnerability, if known about there is a possibility it can be managed. The talk continued onto asset identification, after all you need to know what your assets are in order to protect them. To name but a few assets; the building, paintings/objects, people/staff, computers, visitors, infrastructure, information (technology and data), a venues reputation. It is essential that you know what your cultural venues assets are so that you can put a plan together to protect which can then give you direction. 
Sharing knowledge is essential so Andy emphasised how once you have a policy in place, make sure it is shared with everyone in your organisation. You should also think about training opportunities and education for staff which will then enable them to identify suspicious and normal activity.
Andy left us thinking about two acronyms he used; TLC (Think like a criminal) and TLT (Think like a terrorist). In order to have a policy you must first think like a criminal or a terrorist to discover what threats and risks exist in your cultural venue. 

Ellie Saggers, Assistant Registrar, The Fitzwilliam Museum

IAASF: Technical Security and Adversarial risk to places of Worship

Technical Security – Applications to Protect Cultural Venues
Peter Houlis, 2020 Vision Managing Director & The Security Institute Director 
Peter gave a good insight into the technical elements which we should be looking at in terms of our security adhering to current standards.  
Some of the technical systems we employ are for;
  • Fire detection 
  • Humidity detection 
  • CCTV (network video)  
Applications: To Deter, Detect, Delay and Respond (The technology gives you the information so you can respond proportionately – in a timely manner!) Time is critical. 
Some of the more relevant standards which we should perhaps know about are; 
  •  European Standards for Intruder Alarm Systems BS EN50131 Series. This is replacing old British standards. All new installation should meet these new European standards. Insurance companies will take note of whether the systems meet the new standards.
  • IEC 62676 Series provides recommendations and requirements for the selection, planning, installation, commissioning, maintaining and testing video surveillance systems (VSS) comprising of image capture device(s), interconnection(s) and image handling device(s), for use in security applications
The key points for reference: 
  • Some alarm systems are now voice responsive via motion sensors. This can be useful for works of art on open display when a particularly intrigued visitor steps over the barrier. The alarm responds with a warning to the visitor asking him to please step back.
  • Intruder detection systems do now come with heat sensors. Infrared detection might notice a person entering an area without authorising or at least identify that it was a cat that set off the alarm! 
  • Installation of access control and swipe card technology is increasing and the technology becoming more intelligent. 
  • Communication systems are improving – between security guards, control rooms, and other members of staff (no need for those walkie-talkies or shouting across gallery spaces!) 
  • Common routes for illegal access – roof lights, windows & vents 
  • Some alarm companies which might be worth looking at: 
    • Salco 
    • X-tra sense 
Adversarial Risks to Places of Worship and other Historical Sites  
Alastair Calton, Westminster Cathedral Head of Security & ASIS Cultural Property Council 
Alistair gave a very personal and emotional response to the Terrorist threat recently encountered at Westminster and described the measures that have since been in place. He also explained the very different security risks which the Cathedral, as a religious institution, faces.
  • Risks to the Cathedral – people  
Generally a museum can spot suspicious behaviour as museum visitors generally conform to prescribed behaviour patterns. A person acting drunk or twitchy would be quickly identified and ushered out of a museum – at the Cathedral the opposite is true as the mission of the cathedral is a spiritual one welcoming in one and all. Therefore the risks and threat assessments sometimes have an unusual response and can present conflict. For instance if the Cathedral leaves donation boxes out overnight they are a sure target, of course they don’t leave all of the money but if an attack is going to happen the intruder is going to be determined to take something – better some of the donations rather than the 15th century gold and bejewelled cross.
  • Risks are analysed by a series of Situational Risk Analysis Sheets. These answer a series of hypotheses and evaluate the best outcome and proportionate response to Risk.  
  • Is it part of the job to accept Risk? The cathedral – as the museum also experiences – cannot close its doors or not loan objects for example. 
  • Focus is on limiting the impact if something happens. 
  • Since the Westminster attack the cathedral has identified local doctors/medical practitioners who could be called upon in an emergency. Invested in paramedic standard response kits etc to limit the effect of an attack. Is this something museums could do more of? 
  • Risk is identified through the outcome of a given situation and the level of casualties, damage etc in whichever form that might take 
  • Security guards are encouraged to interact with the visitors, they welcome visitors, talk to them, occasionally cover retail roles, so they gain more information about the visitor profile. 
  • Security is a concern for all, not just the security team. Volunteers, Visitor Assistants are generally the first responders. They engage with the visitors, know the visitor profile the best and can detect unusual behaviour, repeat visitors etc – do they know who to tell if something is off, how to respond or engage that visitor? 
  • Risk is also, of course, about reducing likelihood but also reducing the consequence of an attack.  
Emma Denness, Exhibitions Registrar, Royal Museums Greenwich

IAASF: Physical Security; Target Hardening Cultural Venues.

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