At last week’s Florida Association of Museum Conference an exciting new initiative was announced in relation to the nationwide Connecting to Collections initiative. Connecting to Collections began back in 2005 with a report released by Heritage Preservation and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). The report, titled “A Public Trust at Risk: The Heritage Health Index Report on the State of America’s Collections (HHI),”, revealed that museum collections of objects, documents, and digital material are not only essential to America’s cultural health, but are imperiled and in need of swift protective action.
The study’s findings concluded that:
- 190 million objects held by archives, historical societies, libraries, museums, and scientific organizations in the United States are in need of conservation treatment;
- 65 percent of collecting institutions have experienced damage to collections due to improper storage;
- 80 percent of collecting institutions do not have an emergency plan that includes collections, with staff trained to carry it out; and
- 40 percent of institutions have no funds allocated in their annual budgets for preservation or conservation.
Starting in 2008 Florida museums began participating in the program with regional meetings and symposiums being held to discuss the status of collections held in the state. Meetings continued through 2009 and now in 2011 a new initiative has been announced that will partner not only Florida museums, but also libraries, archives, and archaeological collections across the state in order to answer the demand for regional emergency response networks.
Being in the midst of hurricane alley has made the need for emergency response of utmost importance to us here at the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum. We look forward to working with other local museums to make sure these irreplaceable collections will stay with us for years to come.
Please click here to read the full Connecting to Collections: A Report to the Nation