Philadelphia Stewardship Program Track 3: Risk Assessment and Emergency Planning

It has come to the forefront in recent years that there is great potential for cultural collections to incur damage from large scale disasters such as fires, hurricanes, and earthquakes. Roof leaks, pest infestations, mold blooms, thefts, aging mechanical systems, and other localized emergencies can also greatly affect collections materials.  

Being prepared and identifying the potential threats to one’s institution are the best ways of mitigating risks to cultural collections.  According to Building an Emergency Plan: A Guide for Museums and Other Cultural Institutions, published by the Getty Conservation Institute, the first step in creating an emergency preparedness and response plan is “to prepare a report identifying what natural or human-caused emergencies may threaten the institution.”  This report is usually referred to as a risk assessment.  Organizations cannot move ahead to the development of an emergency plan without a clear-eyed understanding of the areas where their institution is most vulnerable to loss and damage.  

The Conservation Center for Art & Historic Artifacts (CCAHA) is seeking applicants to participate in Track 3of the Philadelphia Stewardship Program, which is focused on emergency planning needs.  Organizations selected to participate in Track 3 will work with a CCAHA consultant to prepare a risk assessment and draft immediate response guidelines. The risk assessment will identify natural or man-made emergencies that may threaten the collections and outline strategies for mitigation.  During the on-site consultation, CCAHA staff will review and examine the institution’s environment, history, location, structural needs and concerns, pest control, fire protection, security procedures, local resources, and training requirements.  Insurance considerations, collections documentation, and collections salvage priorities are also addressed.  The written report provides observations, recommendations, and resources to serve as a guide in the development of a comprehensive disaster plan for the institution.       
Upon receiving the assessment, institutions will work with a CCAHA staff person to develop immediate emergency response guidelines and work toward completion of a full emergency plan.  The emergency plan will include information on essential contacts, emergency response and recovery vendors, emergency communication, insurance, and salvage priorities for the collections. CCAHA staff will be available as a resource and to review the completed plan.  

By participating in Track 3 of the Stewardship Program institutions will:

  • Gain insight on institutional risks that could be affected at the time of an emergency.  
  • Have assistance in identifying methods of mitigating risks where possible.
  • Have access to CCAHA staff during the process of developing an emergency preparedness and response plan.
  • Have the opportunity to apply for a competitive 1:1 matching grant of up to $5,000 for emergency supplies or staff emergency training.
  • Be eligible for a 1-2 hour consultation with CCAHA’s Director of Development specifically about development, resource allocation, and fundraising to implement preservation strategies.

Criteria for Participation

To be considered for participation in Track 3 of the Philadelphia Stewardship Program, an organization must be located within the counties of Bucks, Camden, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, or Philadelphia, and have historic collections that are available to the public.  Preference will be given to organizations that: 
•    have collections that are unique or of significant historical or artifactual value; and
•    demonstrate a willingness to develop and maintain a preservation program.

Track 3 requires a commitment throughout the rest of 2022.  Because the elements of the program will involve some staff time, organizations are expected to allocate adequate resources to the program.  A staff member who will coordinate the planning initiative must be identified. 

At the end of the year, all organizations participating in the program will be eligible to apply for a competitive regrant of up to $5,000 in restricted funding which must be matched 1:1 by the organization. All projects must be related to the organization’s emergency planning efforts.  Eligible expenses will include fees for consultant services, purchase of emergency supplies, and educational opportunities related to emergency preparedness. Up to 30% of the match may be designated for staff salaries covering time restricted to work on the project.  Ineligible expenses include organizational overhead costs, building construction or repair, and capital improvements.

Participants are also eligible to receive a free 1-2 hour consultation with CCAHA’s Director of Development specifically about development, resource allocation, and fundraising to implement recommendations.

Track 3 of the Philadelphia Stewardship Program is recommended for any institution that does not have an emergency plan or for institutions with out of date plans.  Organizations that are unsure about their eligibility for this program should contact CCAHA to discuss participation in Track 3 of the program.  

Application Process

Applications for the Philadelphia Stewardship Program are currently closed.

Established in 1977, the mission of the Conservation Center for Art & Historic Artifacts (CCAHA) is to provide expertise and leadership in the preservation of the world’s cultural heritage.  CCAHA is a non-profit conservation laboratory serving other non-profit cultural, educational, and research institutions, as well as private individuals and organizations. CCAHA specializes in the treatment of works of art and historic artifacts on paper. It also offers on-site consultation services; educational programs and seminars; internships, fellowships, and apprenticeships; and emergency conservation assistance.

The Philadelphia Stewardship Program is funded by the William Penn Foundation which strives to improve the quality of life in the Greater Philadelphia region through efforts that foster rich cultural expression, strengthen children’s futures, and deepen connections to nature and community. In partnership with others, the William Penn Foundations works to advance a vital, just, and caring community.