In the wake of Superstorm Sandy, the Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (FAIC), is offering crucial disaster response assistance to cultural organizations and artists in need. In the first 10 days after the storm struck, the 24-hour hotline (202-661-8068) fielded over 55 calls from collectors, artists, and museums. Five AIC-CERT members are currently in the field working with small collections, galleries, and artists in Manhattan and Brooklyn with more team members to arrive this weekend. New York area conservators have also volunteered and are assisting team members in the recovery effort.
The Foundation has begun to purchase supplies for drying and treating collections and a warehouse space has been identified from which these materials can be distributed. A survey to collect information concerning current needs and resources available has been sent to members of the New York arts community in cooperation with the New York Alliance for Response and the New York Regional Association for Conservation.
An online forum has been set up by AIC-CERT to ask questions regarding the salvage, triage, and treatment of art and historic artifacts or to offer volunteer assistance (https://groups.google.com/forum/?fromgroups#!forum/aic-cert-sandy-response ). Information from the Consortium on Conservation, held November 4th at MoMA and featuring speakers from AIC-CERT and MoMa’s conservation staff, can be found on the MoMA’s website (http://www.moma.org/explore/collection/conservation/recovery ) as well as their Inside/Out Blog (http://www.moma.org/explore/inside_out/category/hurricane-sandy-aftermath-tips-for-artists).
AIC-CERT volunteers have provided assistance and advice to dozens of museums, libraries, and archives since 2007. AIC-CERT teams were on the ground following Tropical Storm Irene and flooding in Minot, North Dakota in 2011, the Midwest floods in 2008, and in the Galveston area following Hurricane Ike later that year. AIC-CERT members and other AIC conservators participated in an 18-month-long project in Haiti assisting with recovery of cultural materials damaged in the 2010 earthquake.
AIC-CERT is supported and managed by the Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation (FAIC). In 2007 and again in 2010, FAIC received funding from the Institute of Museum & Library Services to support an advanced training program for conservators and other museum professionals that resulted in a force of 107 “rapid responders” trained to assess damage and initiate salvage of cultural collections after a disaster has occurred. These well-prepared professionals are currently ready to assist in New York and surrounding areas.
The Foundation thanks Sotheby’s for their leadership gift in support of our work following this disaster. We would also like to offer special thanks to AIC-CERT Coordinator Beth Antoine; New York volunteer leaders Lisa Elkin, Jim Coddington, Rebecca Fifield, and Cindy Albertson; Richard Kurin and Corine Wegener of the Smithsonian Institution; Larry Reger and Lori Foley of Heritage Preservation, and all AIC-CERT team members assisting with response to this disaster, including Viviana Dominguez (CA), Susan Duhl (PA), Hitoshi Kimura (FL), Vicki Lee (MD), Caitlin O’Grady (DE), Steve Pine (TX), and Chris Stavroudis (CA).
Resources and information on disaster recovery and salvage can be found on the AIC website at www.conservation-us.org/disaster . The public can also call AIC-CERT at 202.661.8068.