Posted on Dec 8, 2016

saamWCG, AIHA Potomac Section, and the Smithsonian co-host collaborative Professional Development Seminar “Control of Health and Safety Hazards in Museums and Collection Care”.

On November 8, 2016, the Washington Conservation Guild (WCG) and the Smithsonian’s Office of Safety, Health, and Environmental Management (OSHEM) co-hosted a professional development seminar in collaboration with the Potomac Section of the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) as part of a joint professional collaborative effort.  The fabulous venue sponsored by the Lunder Conservation Center at the Smithsonian American Art Museum was the perfect setting for the daylong seminar “Control of Health and Safety Hazards in Museums and Collection Care.”

Touching on realistic and practical current events; the scientific research studies (e.g. pesticide exposure assessment in anthropology collections, innovative mold testing in archives, and mercury remediation in mineral science storage) were co-presented by both conservators and industrial hygienists.  Other technical discussions included fire protection challenges with fluid collection storage areas and an OSHA Small Business presentation on resources available to small historic houses and cultural sites.  The speakers were current or former OSHEM staff, practicing industrial hygienists and safety professionals from the Washington DC metropolitan area.

Executive Leadership from OSHEM (director Richard Wright, Jr, CIH), WCG (Jane Klinger), AIHA (Dan Anna, CIH; Larry Sloane, CEO), and the AIC-American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (Eryl Wentworth), gave brief remarks urging attendees to work together across professional disciplines to conduct risk assessments and develop remediation strategies for the museum occupations. AIHA has recently entered an agreement to work with AIC to not only increase IH awareness of the health risks faced by this diverse workforce (from private conservators and staff of historic houses), but also to make AIC members aware of the industrial hygiene resources available to ensure proper response to health and safety concerns.  AIHA’s new CEO Larry Sloane was present to affirm AIHA’s commitment to this program. OSHEM is already a part of a long-standing Smithsonian collaboration with AIC via participation in AIC Annual Conferences, national symposia, and publications related to the museum environment.

The goals of cross-education and networking for the event were definitely met, with approximately 100 professionals from conservator/collection care and health, safety, and fire protection occupations.  The attendees represented cultural institutions, academia, Federal agencies, Department of Defense, private industry, and the Smithsonian (Museums, OSHEM, Archives, and Libraries).  Feedback was overwhelmingly positive with many people encouraging us to organize another such event in the future and providing suggestions for topics that would be of interest to the joint community of professionals.  Attendees were especially appreciative of the collaborative environment, the ability to network and discuss topics with experts and colleagues, the venue, and the food!

Attendee Affiliations

National Museum of the U.S. Navy
Hillwood Museum
Colonial Williamsburg Foundation
National Gallery of Art
National Park Service
U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
National Museum of Natural History
Museum Conservation Institute
National Museum of American History
National Portrait Gallery
National Air and Space Museum
Smithsonian American Art Museum
Smithsonian Institution Archives
Smithsonian Institution Libraries

Johns Hopkins Medical Institution
Univ. of Pennsylvania
Univ. of Maryland
Georgetown University

U.S. Dept of State
U.S. Navy
U.S. Dept of Agriculture
Food and Drug Administration
Transportation Security Administration
Naval Surface Warfare Center

Aerosol Monitoring & Analysis
Windjammer Environmental
Northrup Grumman
K&A First Aid, LLC
ERG, Inc
The Windsor Group
Kingery Conservation LLC
HP Environmental
Tiddewater, Inc.alfour Beatty US Inc