This is a sample form only. Permission to reproduce this form must be obtained from the author :Gilda Farias Healy.

Copyright Gilda Farias Healy © 2007

Copyright TXul 683-967,April, 2009

A Disaster Recovery Plan For: (Museum Name, Address Phone number and website address)


Long before a disaster strikes, it is imperative to have good housekeeping measures in place.

  • Operative Smoke Detectors
  • Operative and Function Fire Suppression System

(Keep up with regular maintenance.)

  • Inspection of Electrical Systems-monthly if possible.
  • Fire Proof Cabinets for Collections, Personnel and other Tapes, Diskettes and Magnetic Media.
  • Inclement weather clean-up – Easy to obtain : Rock Salt, Shovels
  • List of Museum Staff to contact in an emergency
  • Security Staff
  • Floor Plan of Bldg.
  • Polaroid Camera


Keep list of Necessary Phone Numbers

Director of Museum


Maintenance Crew (if any)

Head of Board of Directors


Facilities Manager





Other Supplies to keep ready:

Polaroid Camera         Blankets

Sheeting                      Waterproof tape

Towels (Toweling)     Plastic Sheeting

Gloves-Latex , Nitrile, Cotton

Other protective Clothing, including face masks.

Emergency Cart – National Parks Service

Flashlights and/or battery operated lanterns


The Building/ Facilities


Exterior: walkways, entrances and exits

Retaining walls, outdoor shrubbery



Interior: Galleries, Entry ways, Exits, Storage areas



The Collection

  • Collections Issues
  • Items on loan from individuals and other institutions
  • Items directly related to Museums Mission
  • Items vital for research
  • Least representative of museum’s mission





Electronic Records

Magnetic Media




Wood Furniture

Upholstered Furniture

Leather Covered









Art on Paper or Photos with Glass Fronts





General Salvage Techniques

  • Contact a conservator as soon as possible
  • Work on high priority collection areas first.
  • In general, freeze items that cannot dry with 48 hours. Consult a conservator: metal, plate glass, some photographs and furniture may be exceptions to freezing.


Partial Glossary


Air Drying: use cool low-humidity with good air circulation.  Place absorbent material under objects, replace this when wet.  If at all possible, air dry materials or plastic racks (commercial bread trays or rust-proof screens) to increase evaporation.  Exposure to light may reduce threat of mold, but prolonged sunlight can cause fading.


Interleaving; Use blotter paper, unlinked newspaper, paper towels or waxed of freezer paper to keep items from sticking together and prevent dye transfer or running.


Freezing : If objects cannot be dried within 48 hrs. freeze them until action can be taken.


On-Site Dehumidification  Super-dry air is pumped into the into the building and moist air drawn out.  A useful method for damp library and archival collection in place; may be used in modern buildings to dry clean carpeting, wallboard and furnishings. Do Not use for historic structures of wood or plaster or most museum collections.


Rinsing: Rinse dirty or muddy items under a gentle strain of clean running water or gently agitate in containers filled with water.  Do not scrub, it drivers dirt in deeper. Use a sponge/soft cloth to blot  mud and debris.


Vacuum Drying: Also “thermal drying”.. Items are dried in a vacuum cleaner, often at temps.above 100degrees F.  Caution: this method accelerates aging and causes damage to many materials: animal skins (leather, vellum) film media. Widely available: slower than vacuum freeze-drying, but less expensive.


Vacuum Freeze Drying: Items are dried in a vacuum chamber at below-freezing temperatures to minimize swelling and distortion.  Generally provides the most satisfactory results: recommended for historic collection material and glossy papers.  A Commercial service available throughout the U.S..


Taken from the FEMA Emergency Response Wheel through a Preservation Project with the support of The National Endowment for the Humanities and the St. Paul Insurance Companies, copyrighted 1997.

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