Since 2002, ICCROM, the Canadian Conservation Institute (CCI), and the Instituut Collectie Nederland (ICN) have collaborated on the development and delivery of a course entitled Preventive Conservation: Reducing Risks to Collections hosted in Rome (2005), Ottawa (2006), Sibiu (2007), Beijing (2009), and Quito (2009). As a result of sharing the method with mid-career professionals from all regions of the world, as well as incorporating new developments from various risk assessment projects and services pursued independently by each partner, we have refined the risk assessment method used for the course and developed support tools. These include a short manual, a long handbook (currently in draft form), and a database for entering individual risks, carrying out all necessary computations in the background, creating various graphs for comparing risks, and generating reports for clients. The structure of the overall method, and the basic terminology, was based on the Australian and New Zealand standard for Risk Management (RM), which is itself based on a conventional model of the RM process. The model suggests five sequential steps: establish context, identify risks, analyze risks, evaluate risks, and treat risks. There are two ongoing processes: communicate and consult, monitor and review. Three components are used to quantify a collection risk, based on an earlier CCI proposal called the ABC method where A is rate or frequency, B is loss of value to each affected object, and C is fraction of the collection affected. The latter component is now measured in terms of collection value, using the Collection Value Pie, developed during the course by J.L Pedersoli of ICCROM. The focus of CCI’s contribution in the last two years has been as lead author of the manual, the handbook, and the database. We are also pursuing development of our own collection assessment service this year, using the method and the support tools.
The risk-based approach is taught not only for the purposes of comprehensive risk assessments, but also as a quantified approach to specific decisions. It can incorporate intangible values as well as the material science of deterioration. It can incorporate heritage buildings and their components as part of the institution’s collections. Course participants universally enjoy the final section of the course when a day long exercise focuses on a specific collection management decision that conventionally can seem an insoluble dilemma. Examples have included a choice between moving abandoned churches to an eco-museum, or leaving them in-situ, a choice between allowing revenue generating parties in a gallery with wall paintings, or risking loss of revenue, a choice between restricting visitor numbers in a vulnerable and recently restored building, or allowing ten times the visitor flow, and ten times the access.
(Poster download not available)