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Monday, May 16 • 9:30am - 10:00am
(Sustainability) An Unexpected Challenge – Can Shared Risk Make Good Bedfellows?

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As we absorb the increasingly dire predictions about climate change and its potentially devastating effect on our planet and cities, it is a bit overwhelming to imagine what we can do as individuals, conservators or institutions to help mitigate the risk of this disaster. We know how to deal with the results of burst pipes and leaking roofs, but the impact on entire cities – think Katrina, Sandy and the severe storms that flooded the upper mid-west in --- , and the scope becomes unmanageable. Assuming we accept the premise that climate change is the result of increased levels of carbon dioxide and related substances in the atmosphere caused largely by the burning of fossil fuels, however, there is a role that that institutions holding cultural heritage collections can play. Institutions have become major consumers of energy in their quest to provide the best possible preservation environment for the collections entrusted to them. And most of that energy comes from the consumption of fossil fuels. The improved monitoring and control provided by building management systems and analytics provided by programs like e-Climate from the Image Permanence Institute are powerful tools in controlling and understanding our collection environments. It has also become clear that they can be powerful tools for energy conservation when paired with our growing understanding of the buffering capacity of buildings and of general collections’ documented tolerance for limited environmental fluctuations. With reported energy savings of 20, 30 and even 40%, why have relatively few institutions embraced this money saving option that also significantly reduces our carbon footprint? Although all share the risks posed by climate change and are committed to preserving their collections, a lack of understanding between the facilities managers and engineers who design and maintain the systems, conservators and collection managers who care for the collection and administrators who balance the books presents an unexpected challenge. Each feels threatened in a different way, making true structural change and the long term collaboration necessary to implement and maintain a comprehensive project difficult. This presentation presents the results of a survey of members of the International Association of Museum Facility Administrators on their relationships with conservators and collection managers that also queries how this critical relationship might be improved. It also explores other barriers to a more sustainable, research based approach to climate control including exhibition loan agreements, the cost of equipment upgrades and staffing. Can these committed professionals with disparate backgrounds and priorities, form an effective alliance as they face a shared risk?

avatar for John Castle

John Castle

Director, Facilities Services, Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library
John W. Castle is Director of Facility Services at Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library, where he manages the facilities of the 1,000 acre estate including museum and collection buildings, 150 historic structures, wastewater treatment, gas, electric and potable water systems, as well... Read More →
avatar for Lois Olcott Price

Lois Olcott Price

Adjunct Senior Conservator, Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library
Lois Olcott Price is the retired Director of Conservation for the Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library. She graduated from the Winterthur/University of Delaware Art Conservation Program (WUDPAC) where she majored in paper conservation and interned at the Library of Congress. She served... Read More →

Monday May 16, 2016 9:30am - 10:00am EDT
Room 516 AB