December 15, 2015      
Northern States Conservation Center Northern States
Conservation Center

The Collections Caretaker e-Newsletter

Security During the Holidays and Everyday   

In This Issue
January 2016 courses
February 2016 Courses
Regional Workshops
Conferences and Meetings
Submissions and Comments
ASIS International Cultural Property Council Target Hardening Suggestions
See Something, Say Something
"You Better Watch Out....You'd Better Not Cry"...'cause it's not Santa who's coming to town!
The Psychology of Disasters
Museum Store Security for Small Museums
To Screen, or NOT to Screen....Shouldn't be a question
American Association for State and Location History's Small Museum Pro!

Early Bird Discounts Available for Full Length Courses


An Early Bird Discount will be available for anyone who signs up for a full length course from 30 days prior to the start of that course.  


Sign up for a full length course up to 30 days prior to its start and pay only $399.00!


For our course list or to sign up:  


To take advantage of this discount, you must enter coupon code EARLYBIRD at checkout at 


The Early Bird Discount deadline for February 2016 courses is January 4, 2016.

Upcoming Classes
January Courses
January 4 to January 29, 2016
Instructor: Peggy Schaller
Collections management is a critical component of running a museum. Most museums have collections and these collections drive the public functions and activities of the institution. Collections management is the physical and intellectual management of these items. In this course we will examine how information is collected and recorded for each object brought into the collection - a process called registration. We will also examine the policies that govern what is brought into the collection, including the most important piece of institutional policy--the museum mission statement. These policies are assembled into the collections management 'bible'--the registration manual. At the end of this course you should have a clear understanding of how and why collections are documented in museums and the governing principles that drive daily museum activities.
January 4 to January 29, 2016
Instructor: Helen Alten
If you are building a new storage facility or retrofitting an old one, this course provides the blueprint for how to approach architects and engineers as well as redesigning your facility yourself. The course covers the philosophy of storage, the construction requirements, security, fire and water prevention, types of furniture, and how to plan for collections growth.
The course will start with a refresher on the agents of deterioration and environmental issues to assure that the students have a common base to begin.
After this introduction, topics include determining storage and defining space, architectural design considerations and issues such as lighting, security and planning. We will discuss general information about storage furniture types and storage materials, how to modify existing cabinets and information on homemade storage systems. The last section includes specific information from a variety of vendors, specifics on writing a Request for Proposal (RFP), and what to consider when making a decision on a furniture type and vendor.
The instructor will add readings and other information depending upon the students and their individual institutional problems and concerns.
January 4 to January 29, 2016
Instructor: Karin Hostetter
So much to say and so little space in which to say it. That is the dilemma when scripting an exhibition. How do you say what needs to be said in the space available? How do you even figure out how to limit the information in the first place? Discover the value of themes, tangibles, intangibles, and universals in writing exhibit text that visitors really want to read -- and remember. Additional resources provided on font size and colors as well as label layout.
January 4 to January 29, 2016
Instructor: Jerry Shiner
A microclimate is the environment immediately surrounding an artifact. Microclimates designed for optimum storage, display, or treatment conditions can be created and maintained in showcases, storage cabinets, rooms, or plastic bags. This course covers the basics of creating and maintaining microclimates, including discussions of suitable enclosures and appropriate means of controlling humidity, temperature, pollution, and oxygen. Learn what constitutes a microclimate, how to use silica gel and other environmental control materials, how to reduce internally generated pollutants, and techniques for monitoring the microclimate you have created.
Introduction to Museums

The United States has more than 17,000 museums, we can only guess at the world's total. While most people think of a museum as a well-staffed, professionally run institution, the vast majority of museums are started and run by people with little or no basic training in museum studies or preservation. Introduction to Museums is designed to change that. The course introduces basic concepts, terminology and the role of various staff members, including curators, registrars and directors. Introduction to Museums is aimed at staff members, board members, interns, volunteers, as well as anyone interested in becoming a museum professional or learning more about the profession.

Please join our newest faculty member Kimberly Kenney for MS101: Introduction to Museums beginning February 1, 2016 
February Courses
February 1 to 26, 2016
Instructor: Kimberly Kenney
Description: The United States has more than 17,000 museums, we can only guess at the world's total. While most people think of a museum as a well-staffed, professionally run institution, the vast majority of museums are started and run by people with little or no basic training in museum studies or preservation. Introduction to Museums is designed to change that. The course introduces basic concepts, terminology and the role of various staff members, including curators, registrars and directors. Introduction to Museums is aimed at staff members, board members, interns, volunteers, as well as anyone interested in becoming a museum professional or learning more about the profession.
February 1 to 26, 2016
Instructor:  Stevan Layne
World events continually remind us just how important security is. The FBI and Interpol databases record thefts from small rural museums and world renowned art collections. The prevalence of collections lost to theft is brought home to us with regular sensational newspaper stories. And then there are the internal thefts, fires, and collection vandalism that also result in loss. Security must be a priority for every museum, regardless of size. Introduction to Security teaches basic, practical approaches to protecting against threats such as theft, vandalism, violent acts, natural disasters, fire and environmental hazards. Topics include selecting security systems, determining security needs and how to build affordable security systems. Screening, hiring, firing, workplace violence, policies and procedures and emergency management planning are covered as well.
February 1 to 26, 2016
Instructor:  Helen Alten
Applying Numbers to Collection Objects covers the materials and methods of object numbering: registration, handling, labeling and marking, number placement, documentation, health and safety, transponders and barcodes, surface marks, inks, paints and barrier coats. Each participant receives a Northern States Conservation Center collections labeling kit and performs experiments using its contents. Participants learn to determine what pen, ink, barrier coat or tag is appropriate for each object and storage or display situation.
MS 219: Opening and Closing Seasonal Museums
February 1 to 26, 2016
Instructor:  Fiona Graham
The seasonal closure of a museum presents unique challenges and opportunities for collection preservation. This is an introductory-level conservation course exploring simple collection preservation methods for seasonal museums. The target Audience for the course is curators and other museum personnel, volunteers, site managers, maintenance personnel. No prior conservation training necessary. Participants will learn about the challenges and opportunities associated with caring for collections in seasonal facilities. They will learn about the risks to collections and how to mitigate them through closing and re-opening procedures, as well as throughout the winter season.
MS 227: Care of Paintings
February 1 to March 11, 2016
Instructor:  Victoria Montana Ryan
Caring for paintings requires some knowledge of the component structure of paintings and the reaction of those components to both natural and man-made environments. This course looks at the painting structure, the effects of damaging environments, and proposes simple steps for basic care. Topics include the structure of paintings, proper condition reporting with standard damage vocabulary, and basic care and handling including environments, storage, and transport. The course is intended to help those entrusted with the care of paintings in any environment.
February 1 to 26, 2016
Instructor:  Karin Hostetter
The world of museum education is as varied as the imagination. From school field trips to online blogs, from 2-year-olds to senior citizens, and from formal programs to volunteering, it is all part of the educational delivery system of a museum. In Education in Museums, survey the education programs offered at your site. Determine what exhibits and collections need better representation through education. Develop a long term plan of education program development for your site that you can use to improve services to your community.
February 1 to March 11, 2016
Instructor: Tom Bennett
Sprucing up your exhibits with safe, effective, inexpensive mounts can be easier and more fun than you thought. With a few tools, good technique and a bit of practice, you will be well on the way to presenting your objects in their most interesting light, with an eye on long-term safety and security. Design and Construction of Exhibit Mounts presents the basics of mountmaking for the small to medium-sized museum including tools, techniques and materials. Be prepared to construct mounts during the course. Students will be sent a list of materials and tools to acquire before the course commences. Come along and exercise your creative side while doing the collection a world of good.
February 1 to 26, 2016
Instructor: Karl Hoerig
Retail stores play central roles in museum operations. Most museum managers and their boards or tribal councils recognize stores' revenue potential. But stores can also help serve the museum's educational mission, support perpetuation and revitalization of traditional arts, and impact audiences beyond the museum's doors. Utilizing expert perspectives and examples from diverse museum stores this course will explain why a museum store should not be just a "gift shop" and will present guidance on inventory management, buying and pricing, retail display, staff training and other administrative issues faced by museum store managers.
Safeguarding Cultural Properties
Safeguarding Cultural Properties
Safeguarding Cultural Properties is a step-by-step guide for creating and maintaining a comprehensive security program in any cultural facility or public institution. Author Stevan P. Layne, the leading expert in the field of cultural property protection, draws from his many years of experience providing protection training and planning to more than 350 cultural and public institutions around the world.
Designed especially for those with limited security budgets, the book provides a proven and effective program for hiring the right security personnel, selecting the appropriate electronic security systems, and coordinating critical emergency response, along with all the other security issues unique to the needs of a cultural institution. For individuals responsible for the protection of the people, assets, and collections, Safeguarding Cultural Properties saves time and money by providing the essential resources needed for creating a short- and long-term protection plan.
  • The only how-to manual written specifically for security managers of museums, libraries, zoos, and other public and private historic sites
  • Suitable for both large and small cultural institutions, it covers topics such as personnel security, fire protection, physical security, emergency response, theft protection, and more
  • Provides actionable, cost-effective solutions for institutions with limited security budgets and resources
Safeguarding Cultural Properties
Regional Workshops

Where you can find some of our instructors in 2015:

Stevan P. Layne

  • Denver Museum of Nature & Science, Denver, CO, December 17, 2015
Management of Aggressive Behavior (MOAB) Introductory Class
  • Denver Museum of Nature & Science, Denver, CO, December 18, 2015

Conferences and Meetings

California Association of Museums
Riverside, California
March 2-4, 2016
Museum Store Association
Atlanta, GA
April 15-18, 2016
Museums Association New York
Museums - Core to Communities
The Wild Center & Lake Placid, NY
April 17-19, 2016
Colorado-Wyoming Association of Museums
Casper, WY
April 28 -30, 2016

Association of Academic Museums and Galleries
Washington DC
May 24-25, 2016
American Alliance of Museums
Washington, DC
May 26-29, 2016   

Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections
Berlin, Germany
June 20-25, 2016

Society of American Archivists
Joint Annual Meeting of the Council of State Archivists and Society of American Archivists
Atlanta, GA
July 31, 2016 - August 6, 2016

American Association of State and Local History
Detroit, Michigan
September 14-17, 2016

Western Museums Association
Phoenix, AZ
September 25-28, 2016.  
Southeastern Museums Conference
Charlotte, NC
October 10-12, 2016
Mountain-Plains Museums Association
Oklahoma City
October 23-27, 2016

National Association for Interpretation
Corpus Christi, Texas 
November 8-12, 2016
New England Museum Association
2016 Annual Conference
Mystic, CT
November 9-11, 2016

Society of American Archivists
2017 Annual Meeting
Portland, OR
July 23 - 29, 2017

Southeastern Museums Conference
2017 Annual Meeting
New Orleans, LA 
September 11-13, 2017

New England Museum Association
2017 Annual Conference
North Falmouth, MA
October 25-27, 2017
National Association for Interpretation
Spokane, Washington
November 14-18, 2017

Society of American Archivists
2018 Annual Meeting
Washington, DC
August 12- 18, 2018
Southeastern Museums Conference
2018 Annual Meeting
Jackson, MS
October 8-10, 2018
National Association for Interpretation
Dates and location TBD
November 2018
National Association for Interpretation
Denver, Colorado
November 12-16, 2019

Submissions and Comments


How to submit an article or upcoming workshops for inclusion in the Newsletter:  

If you would like to submit an article, notice of an organizational meeting or upcoming workshop for an upcoming Collections Caretaker Newsletter, send your submission to  


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Welcome to the Collections Caretaker e-Newsletter from Northern States Conservation Center. The newsletter is designed to bring you timely and helpful content that is pertinent to situations we all encounter in our museum and archives work. Feel free to let us know what topics you would like to see featured in Collections Caretaker or even contribute an article.
In light of recent events throughout the world, we are focusing this issue of Collections Caretaker on Security.  We have combined articles from past issues with new material to hopefully give our readers information they can use to make their facilities safer for staff and visitors.
Many of our contributors are also instructors for our courses.
Stevan Layne teaches our MS101 Introduction to Security course which is running in February 2016.
Karl Hoerig teaches our MS254 Retail Store Management for Small Museums course also running in February 2016
Helen Alten teaches a number of our courses including MS253: Disaster Preparation and Recovery which will run in October 2016. 
ASIS International Cultural Property Council Target Hardening Suggestions
By Robert Carotenuto, CPP, PCI, PSP and the ASIS International Cultural Properties Council
Short Term (Right Now!)
  • Remember your organization's mission and ensure that you continue to follow it.
  • Raise awareness by communicating with your staff.
  • Learn and understand your staff's concerns.
  • Discuss with local law enforcement potential threats to your institution.
  • Let staff know how they can help, e.g. "If you see something, say something".
  • Know what your neighbors are doing. Sharing ideas and information helps build a resilient community.
Site Survey and Risk Assessment (Annual review at minimum)
  • Look at your institution with a fresh pair of eyes to uncover potential vulnerabilities.
  • Review your policies and procedures.
  • Review all the resources at your disposal, both internal and external.
  • Learn and understand ongoing concerns of your staff.
  • Discuss with local law enforcement potential threats to your institution.
  • Review your institution's daily operating procedures to understand how any changes in security procedures might adversely impact them.
Plan and Implement Solutions
  • Develop a plan of action based upon your site survey and risk assessment.
  • Physical site hardening takes time, planning, and money, all of which might not be possible, nor a cost-effective means of addressing your institution's risks.
  • Do ensure that what physical security measures you have are working and in good condition-locks, doors, gates, bollards, access control, fencing, CCTV.
Communicate your plan
  • Internal: emails, staff newsletter, staff meetings, training manuals and training sessions.
  • External: let local law enforcement know your concerns and see how they might be able to assist you with an increased presence at your facility.
  • Make sure all your internal and external contact information is correct and up to date.
Implement a heightened alert plan when threat levels increase.
  • A pre-determined plan with action items that can quickly be implemented in order to raise organization wide security awareness and response to counter and reduce the threat.
  • Move security posts to forward positions and provide security officers with specific post orders designed to counter/reduce the threat.
Perform staff training
  • Review policies and procedures with your staff on what to do in various emergency scenarios-make it real for them!
  • Tabletop exercises and drills will help reinforce training.
  • Let all staff know that they can help through their own observations.
  • If you see something, say something.
  • Trust your instincts and report any suspicious persons, suspicious behavior, and suspicious packages.
Consider a behavioral approach to target hardening
  • The Mall of America uses trained plain clothes security professionals to engage visitors whose activities are out of the norm.
  • All potential wrongdoers fear detection and so will display certain typical stress characteristics.
  • Create a baseline of what is considered "normal" behavior at your facility. Activity out of the norm might be a single male in his 30s spending time in an area where the average visitor is between 5-10 years of age accompanied by one or two parents. This approach allowed one of our security officers to identify a vagrant who was eventually removed from our grounds.
  • Define what suspicious behavior is specific to your organization and train all staff (security and non-security staff) on how to report or respond when suspicious behavior is observed. What is suspicious in one organization may be normal behavior in others. For example taking photographs and video at a museum is normal guest behavior but it is not normal for photographs or video be taken of security equipment, posts, employee areas, etc.
  • Engage every visitor to your institution with a simple greeting. The retail industry has deployed this security tactic effectively for years and studies have shown that such an approach does reduce criminal activity.
  • If you have the resources, consider having some of your security officers work in plain clothes in order to help detect any possible perpetrators, such as pickpockets during times of high visitation.
  • All deliveries to your facility.
  • If you have the resources, consider screening all visitor vehicles and bags.
  • Consider a package or bag policy that will not allow visitors to enter your facility with any package or bag beyond a certain size. Best of all possible worlds is a no bag policy, but this might not be practical for the visitors to your institution based upon your culture and risk profile.
Employee Travel
  • Review the US Department of State website for updated travel warnings and alerts.
  • Staff traveling on company business should provide detailed itineraries so their locations can be pin-pointed if and when something happens.  Whenever a terrorist event occurs somewhere in the world, one of the first questions your organization should ask is:  "Do we have any staff traveling there?"
  • Those who work for a company that travels abroad you can sign up for the OSAC report, and receive it daily, which is always informative for specific countries or this sort of alert. 
  • Advise your staff that they should register with the local US consulate abroad, if there is one, and you should have a planned exit strategy, such as first flight out of a war zone to first safe destination.
Key Points for Security Personnel
  • Be visible.
  • Be vigilant.
  • Be proactive.
  • Engage all visitors and staff.
  • If you see something, say something.
Robert Carotenuto, CPP, PCI, PSP is Associate Vice President for Security at The New York Botanical Garden in the heart of the Bronx. His more than twenty years of security experience in cultural property protection include sixteen years at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. At the Metropolitan Museum, he served as the Associate Security Manager for Physical Security and the Command Center, focusing on fire and electronic security systems, emergency management, and business continuity. Robert is currently the Vice Chair of the ASIS International Cultural Properties Council, past Chair and current Vice Chair of the American Alliance for Museums Security Committee, a member of the ASIS International Academic and Training Council, and an Adjunct Lecturer in the Department of Security, Fire, and Emergency Management at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. He holds Master of Science degrees in Computer Information Systems and Protection Management from Baruch College and John Jay College respectively.
See Something, Say Something
By Steve Layne and Peggy Schaller
Reprinted from August 2014 Collections Caretaker
With all the conflicts in the Middle East and around the world; the threat of domestic and international terrorism; and increasing domestic violence, it is critical that we all be aware of our surroundings. As unpleasant as these issues are to contemplate everyone involved in the protection of public institutions and their collections needs to be alert for suspicious persons and activities, including some who may be in our workforce.  Remind others to "See Something, Say Something!"  This means if you see ANY thing out of order or hear anything which touches on subversive activity, write it down and report it, now!  This applies in your workplace and any public space including schools, public transportation, and airports. The more people who are aware of their surroundings, the more chance we have of preventing a violent incident.

Think about a security awareness briefing for all staff, volunteers, and even regular contractors for your institution.  Make sure that everyone has the tools to be aware and react proactively to any suspicious activity. It's never too early (hopefully not too late) to begin development of a disaster preparedness element in your emergency operations plan. Be prepared and don't let a simple incident turn into a disaster.
"You Better Watch Out....You'd Better Not Cry"...'cause it's not Santa who's coming to town!
By Steve Layne
Reprinted from February 2015 Collections Caretaker
If you pay any attention to the news, you can't help but notice there's a lot of turmoil, around the world, and within this country.   The word has gone out, to those who for one reason or another feel alienated or suppressed by westerners, Americans in particular.  The message they are receiving is to individually or in groups, wreak havoc wherever the opportunity presents itself.  That includes armed assault, kidnapping, murder, explosive devices, fires, destruction of property, and more.   Museums, historic houses, and especially national iconic sites...are "soft (vulnerable) targets."

It is foolhardy to think that these elements cannot or will not strike in your neighborhood.  Regardless of the size, scope, or nature of your institution, the possibility of a threat becoming reality exists.  And once it begins, it's way too late to think about how to respond.   Sound prevention measures are available.  Solid defenses are affordable.  It starts with staff-wide awareness and an efficient reporting system.  Absolute control of your building's perimeter is a must.   Package inspection, frowned upon by many institutions, is a viable prevention tool, but infrequently initiated.  The Philadelphia Museum of Art, one of the nation's largest, inspects every parcel and container coming into the institution, daily, and everything going out....efficiently, and with strong attention to visitor relations.   The excuse "we can't afford it," or "we don't have adequate staff" is just that, an excuse.   We're going to have tragic events in this country.  Do what you can, now, to avoid being a victim.  You need to have a plan.   For direct information about preventing measures, contact the International Foundation for Cultural Property Protection (IFCPP), the Department of Homeland Security, The FBI, or your local law enforcement agency.
Stevan P. Layne is the principal consultant and chief executive of Layne Consultants International, a leading provider of cultural property protection advice. Steve is a former police chief, public safety director and museum security director. He is the author of The Cultural Property Protection Manual, and the Business Survival Guide. Steve regularly presents to professional associations and has consulted with more than 400 museums and other institutions. Steve is the founding director of the International Foundation for Cultural Property Protection and responsible for the professional training and certification of more than 1,000 museum professionals. For more information visit his web site Layne Consultants International.
The Psychology of Disasters
By Helen Alten
Reprinted from February 2015 Collections Caretaker
The Impact of Disasters on People
Events of all sizes create a notable disruption in people's lives because these events cause significant change. The trauma of a disaster results in cognitive, behavioral, emotional, physical, and spiritual responses in those affected by it, including the recovery workers.
The emotional and physical response of each person depends on many factors. These include the intensity of the disaster; the time between the event and recovery; the emotional and physical strength of the individual; the depth of feelings and level of panic felt by the individual; and prior experience with a similar event.

Emotional symptoms that might occur include irritability, anger, denial, fear, sadness, depression, grief, mood swings, isolation and withdrawal, feeling helpless and overwhelmed, and self-blame and/or blaming others. Physical symptoms can include loss of appetite, insomnia, fatigue or hyperactivity, concentration and memory problems, or increased use of alcohol or drugs. No one should be blamed for their reactions. All of these are coping mechanisms in a difficult time. It is important that we understand that all of this is normal, needs to be accepted, and needs to be treated before it makes the disaster much worse than it already is.
Psychological First Aid
Psychological First Aid is part of the recovery process as much as physical stabilization of your artifacts. It involves providing contact, engagement, safety and comfort for each individual. A therapist identifies the needs and concerns of each person and provides them with practical assistance and information on coping methods, social supports and collaborative services that can provide more help. Remember, after the first few hours, the members of a recovery team are also psychologically affected by the disaster.
A therapist's first contact with those affected by a disaster should address needs of individuals, families and communities. The goal is to reduce the initial distress caused by traumatic events. Then the therapist works to foster short and long-term adaptive functioning in each person, according to the culture and the ages of the affected individuals.
When making contact with survivors of a disaster it is important to be gentle, compassionate, and respectful of individual feelings. The therapist's contact should be suggestive, not conclusive, informal and unobtrusive. It takes time for survivors to feel safe and trusting. Patience is important to reduce fear and apprehension. Answer pressing questions, concerns and needs, and support their individual coping efforts.
The impact of trauma can reduce the ability to concentrate, disrupt attention, and impair cognitive skills. Think about when someone near to you died. Did you have trouble remembering where you put the car keys? Were you wandering around, forgetting important things, feeling like a zombie? Trauma can lead to regression and poor coping mechanisms that result in anger. It is important to create and sustain better feelings around these individuals by stressing safety and staying calm. Create an atmosphere that promotes connections with others and self-sufficiency, empowerment and hope.
First Responders are not immune
First responders are not immune to psychological reactions to disaster situations. First responders include emergency management personnel, healthcare workers, psychologists and social workers, contractors, museum/library conservators and staff and volunteers. Some of the factors causing stress in first responders are long hours, not knowing the duration of the deployment, unfamiliar context, new challenges, time pressures, multiple or conflicting priorities, previous traumatic experiences, and fear of death, injury and/or illness.
Mitigation Strategies
Mitigation strategies include briefing personnel before the response operation begins. Make everyone aware of the expected emotional responses in victims and responders. Emphasize teamwork and sharing both the workload and the emotional load. Assign partners to help each other and be sure to rotate personnel to minimize fatigue. Take breaks away from the incident area and emphasize the need for good nutrition, frequent water breaks, and rest. Talk about the experience and phase-out workers by gradually assigning them to easier recovery activities. If possible, include daily debriefing. Add a therapist to the recovery team to help people continue to cope effectively.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an intense physical and emotional response to thoughts and reminders about the traumatic event. If you see symptoms within yourself or one of your colleagues, reach out for assistance. Do not suffer in silence. Disasters and other traumatic events affect everyone. Be a survivor and not a victim.
Helen Alten founded Northern States Conservation Center 18 years ago and museumclasses.org10 years ago. She is an objects conservator with a desire to bring about change through museums, improving our communities and the patrimony we leave to our off-spring.   
Museum Store Security for Small Museums 
By Karl Hoerig

Museum store security starts with museum security. When thinking about security, you must consider all of the threats your facility, collections, and shop might face.That includes the obvious threat of loss or damage due to the acts of criminally-inclined people. It also includes threats like the threat of loss to fire, or damage that can be caused by water--either by way of natural floods or by the unwanted introduction of water from broken pipes or failed fire-sprinkler heads.  Your store inventory and cash is far less sensitive than your museum collections, so the protection you have for your facility (you do have it, right?) should be more than adequate to protect your shop.

Hopefully your facility has adequate and appropriate monitoring and alarm systems for fire, water, and intrusion. At the very least, your museum should have a central alarm system that is monitored all the time. This system should include smoke and/or heat detectors in every room; water sensors anywhere you might have water coming into your facility (e.g. basements); a flow sensor attached to your fire sprinkler system if you have one; and perimeter and interior motion detectors to sense unauthorized after-hours access.

Unless you have your own 24-hour security team, you should contract with an alarm monitoring company that will alert your local fire and police departments and call you if an alarm is tripped.

If your museum store is located inside your museum facility, it should be included in the net of protection provided by this system. If your shop is not inside your main facility, try at a minimum to maintain a monitored intrusion and fire alarm system for your shop. You should be able to add it to your main facility's monitoring contract.

Security during business hours is a bit more of a worry. Unlike your collections storage areas or the locked cases in your exhibit galleries, you want people -- as many people as possible -- to come into your museum store and to touch your merchandise.

Your first consideration should always be for the personal safety of your staff. They are not paid enough, nor are they trained to serve as a private police force. Everyone on your staff should understand that they are not expected to place themselves in danger to protect merchandise or cash. If confronted by an assailant that they deem to be dangerous, no museum shop staff member should ever do anything that could place them in danger. If a bad guy has a weapon or makes a threat, let them take the stuff, then call the police.
Another issue to be aware of is that it may not be legal for you or your staff to detain someone who has stolen from your store. Forcibly detaining someone might give them grounds for civil and criminal complaints against you, in addition to potentially being dangerous. Always be careful when confronting someone you suspect of shoplifting or other theft.

That being said, there are lots of things that you and your staff can do to eliminate the likelihood of ever having to deal with bad guys.

We have a rule that there must always be at least two museum personnel in near proximity to the admissions desk and museum store. This helps to insure the safety of our staff, and also guarantees that we've got extra help nearby if a tour bus unexpectedly shows up.

Events like armed robberies or after-hours break-ins are thankfully fairly rare. The two most common sources of loss in retail stores are shoplifting and employee theft. Shoplifting is an obvious threat.

Unfortunately, employee theft is not as uncommon as we'd like it to be. Of course, none of our staffs would ever steal from our stores, but there are times when people just seem to think that since we've got 100 of those t-shirts in stock, no one will ever miss one, or who just can't handle the volume of cash that touches their fingers without some of it ending up in their pockets.

In all matters relating to security, vigilance is the key to minimizing problems. You and your staff should always remain aware. If someone is acting strangely or the numbers don't seem quite right, something probably is not quite right.

The good news is, just having a well-trained staff who do their jobs is the most important thing you can do. For example, shoplifters are much less likely to try to steal if they know someone is watching them.

Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart and the most successful retailer of all time, came up with the idea to put greeters at the entrance to each of his stores because he figured that no one would steal if they thought their grandmother was watching them. It makes a difference.

If your store staff is paying attention to each guest that enters your store, greeting them and following the other recommendations for good customer service, you remove most opportunities that those so inclined would have to steal from your store.

Do everything you can to make it easy for your staff to see what's going on in the store at all times.

This includes things like cash register placement. When developing your store layout you do not want to put the "cash and wrap" in a spot that will block interested shoppers from getting into the store (the problem we have at Nohwike' Bágowa), but you do want to place it where your staff can easily see the store exits and the sales floor.

It's also a good idea not to display small, unsecured items in a back corner of the shop, or anywhere else where it's easy for a shoplifter to access them unseen.

As discussed before, I think there is real merchandising value to placing items where shoppers can touch them. Try to create those opportunities in places where your shop staff will be able to keep an eye on the activity, like near your checkout counter. This is all obvious, common-sense stuff, but it does make a difference in discouraging "shrinkage."

Minimizing employee theft is also mostly common sense. Well trained, engaged staff members who are personally invested in your institution's success are less likely to be inclined to steal.

Be sure you keep close tabs on your sales, cash transactions, and inventory. You should trust your employees, but also make it your responsibility to keep track of what's going on. Building a culture of trust in which everyone knows their job and is always aware of your store's mission will help.

You can't always tell who might succumb to temptation, as I have unfortunately learned the hard way.

Security cameras can be helpful deterrents to all forms of theft. In fact, the simple presence of visible cameras can be enough to discourage many would-be thieves.

In the past, there was a thriving business in pseudo-security cameras: fakes that businesses installed to make people think that they were being filmed.  In the last few years real camera systems have gotten so much better and cheaper that it doesn't make sense to pay for fakes anymore.

Security cameras are useful, but they are not the be-all, end-all answer to store security. One of the most significant limitations to security cameras is that you have to know something has happened, and generally when it happened, for them to be of any real value. You will likely not be able to afford to have a security person monitoring your cameras all the time, and you can easily find yourself spending dozens of hours watching your security footage if you know something has happened but not when. Example: that $600 soapstone sculpture that was on that display stand with five other sculptures is missing. We noticed it today, but who knows how long it's been gone.

So you go to your surveillance video files and check the (digital equivalent of) tape for each morning going back until you see the piece there (if you happen to have a camera where it would be visible). Then you have to narrow down your search by each hour until you see it missing, then watch to see what happened to it. If you do not get a good view of the thief, or no one from your staff recognizes the perpetrator, you still don't get much out of it. If the stolen piece is not clearly visible from your security cameras, you will never be able to track when it was taken.

But they can work! We were using an antiquated VHS tape-based system when a kid stole our donation box a few years ago.
As you can see, the images weren't great but they were good enough to allow others to identify the miscreant, who in turn confessed to the theft when confronted with the photos.

With the advent of good digital video technology in the last few years, cameras have gotten much better, digital recording systems have made the collection and archiving of security video exponentially easier, and the cost of systems has plummeted.

For those on limited budgets or with some do-it-yourself capacities, video surveillance systems are readily available for a small investment.  Four camera systems with dedicated digital video recorders can be had online or in any number of retail electronics stores (and Costco and Sam's Club) for as little as $500. You can pay more for additional cameras and additional features.

Security system providers in most areas will be happy to install and set up video surveillance for you, at somewhat higher cost.

If you install your own video system, be sure to place the recorder in a secure location -- the cameras don't do any good if the bad guys take the recorder with them (it does happen!). At the same time, it's useful to have a monitor that's visible to your shop staff (ours is below the cashier's counter).

The cameras should not be obtrusive, but should be placed in locations where they are visible to your guests.  Potential thieves need to know that they're on camera.   
Choosing locations for cameras is pretty commonsense. Be sure you have coverage of:
  • all entrances and exits
  • the cash register (you want to be able to monitor the actions of both guests and staff where money changes hands)
  • displays of particularly valuable or easily grabbed merchandise
  • access to the shop office, storage, or other locations where cash or merchandise is stored
Finally, be sure to include security in all staff training. Everyone who works in your store should know what to do if they witness a shoplifter or other person who might present a threat.

By maintaining high standards for staff training, customer service, emphasis on mission, and awareness you can keep security concerns to a minimum.   
Karl Hoerig is director of Nohwike' Bágowa (House of Our Footprints), the White Mountain Apache Cultural Center and Museum, in Fort Apache, Arizona. The position requires multifaceted involvement in the community, a mix of museum tasks, heritage promotion, cultural heritage resource protection and management, capacity building, economic development and enhancing sovereignty. Karl Hoerig has a PhD in anthropology from the University of Arizona.
To Screen, or NOT to Screen....Shouldn't be a question!
By Stevan P. Layne, CPP, CIPM, CIPI, Founding Director, IFCPP
Reprinted from October 2015 Collections Caretaker

I once asked a museum director if his institution did background screening on its volunteers. "Are you crazy," he replied. "If we did that, we wouldn't have any volunteers."   I'm not sure if that was an indication that none of them would pass the screen, or if none of them would submit to it.

All of us recognize the many benefits a strong volunteer program brings to an institution. In many places, volunteers far outnumber paid staff.   Without the work they provide, some programs could conceivably be lost.   We forget, however, that volunteers are just "people." And people, given the right opportunity, steal. People, with the proper motivation, take advantage of other people...financially, physically, or even sexually.   It logically follows, therefore, that any "people" brought into the workforce, regardless of whether or not they are compensated, should undergo a reasonable screening of their background and character. This is exactly the language used by the courts in examining cases of negligent hiring.   We screen to protect the good people in the workforce, visitors, and other volunteers from being subjected to or exposed to those who would take advantage of them or cause harm.

The level or depth of the screening should be dependent on the applicant's exposure to people and access to assets.   ALL applicants should undergo a thorough check for criminal histories. It should be asked on the application and verified by a records check. This may be done directly through the courts or through a professional background service.

If the applicant is serving to greet guests, has access to no keys, assets, or classes with minor children, then minimal screens may be performed.   The information on the application needs to be verified. If a falsehood is discovered, the process is over and the application should be denied. This includes employment history, driving record, education, licenses or certifications held. Credit histories should be performed on all of those persons who will handle cash or accessioned artwork.

Everyone should be able to account for their time, for no less than the past ten years. You have to be somewhere....gainfully employed, in school, in the military, undergoing health care...or in prison.   Some records must exist, somewhere, which verifies this existence. Women who were married and not employed should have access to tax records showing a joint return for the time period in question.

If volunteers are asked to perform certain tasks with special knowledge or education, they should be trained identically to paid employees who perform those tasks. The bottom line...Volunteers are worth their weight in gold. Just be sure they're not taking the gold with them....
Stevan P. Layne is the principal consultant and chief executive of Layne Consultants International, a leading provider of cultural property protection advice. Steve is a former police chief, public safety director and museum security director. He is the author of Safeguarding Cultural Properties: Security for Museums, Libraries, Parks and Zoos, and the Business Survival Guide. Steve regularly presents to professional associations and has consulted with more than 400 museums and other institutions. Steve is the founding director of the International Foundation for Cultural Property Protection and responsible for the professional training and certification of more than 1,000 museum professionals. For more information visit his web site  Layne Consultants International.
American Association for State and Local History's Small Museum Pro!
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January 11, 2016 - March 4, 2016
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Effective institutional administration and leadership matter, regardless of the size or focus of your organization. During this seven week online course, participants will learn about governance and administrative structure, managing nonprofit status, the importance of mission and vision, board and staff responsibilities and the relationship between board and staff, successful strategic planning, managing human resources, and leadership.

Collections Management
March 21, 2016 - May 6, 2016
Instructor: Dyani Feige
This eight week course will introduce participants to the professional principles and practices in the management of museum collections. Topics will include collections development, registration and record keeping with an emphasis on the development of Collection Policies and Procedures and what it means to be intellectually and physically responsible for museum objects.
Northern States Conservation Center (NSCC) provides training, collection care, preservation and conservation treatment services. NSCC offers online museum studies classes at in Collections Management & Care, Museum Administration & Management, Exhibit Practices and Museum Facilities Management.


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