The Conservation Course Syllabus Pages

Course:Assessing and managing risks to your collections
Date Offered:June 1997
Location:Canadian Museum of Nature (Canadian Museums Association Annual Conference)
Instructor:Robert Waller, Sylvie Marcil


This workshop was designed and developed by conservators and collection managers for organizations and individuals interested in having a global framework to determine their preventive conservation priorities and how best to invest their limited funds. Participants come from varied backgrounds and working experiences
collection managers,
volunteers and
any stakeholder in collection preservation.

General Objective:
The objective of this non-technical workshop is to demonstrate to participants a method of assessing and managing risks to collections which has been developed and implemented at the Canadian Museum of Nature.
In 2-days participants will learn to:
identify all the risks to which collections are exposed, which agents of deterioration are responsible and how risks differ,
assess the relative importance of risks;
identify means of controlling risks using different methods applied at different levels;
develop risk mitigation strategies and evaluate their costs, risks and benefits in order to choose the most valuable option in a given context.

None, but participants should have a stake in collections preservation.

Specific Goals/Objectives:
Learning the system of risk assessment and management will give participants a model which will help them to:
think about preventive conservation comprehensively;
guard against "flavour of the month" priorities;
compare between risks of different frequencies and severity;
communicate clearly on preventive conservation issues, requirements and their importance;
work in teams within their own institution;
compare different risks among different collections;
identify readily mitigatable risks;
create base documentation on institutional practices;
recognise the importance of their actions or inactions in preserving collections;
develop cost-effective plans for mitigating risks;
consider all issues related to proposed mitigation strategies from an institutional perspective;
uphold their plans for risk mitigation strategies with an analysis that senior management can appreciate and support.

Workshop Contents:
Part One - Assessing Risks to Collections
  1. Identify all risks to collection and the agents of deterioration
  2. Identify the types of risk according to their frequency and severity
  3. Recognise the parameters for estimating risks : fraction susceptible, loss in value, extent, probability
  4. Calculate magnitudes of risk
Part Two - Managing Risks to Collections
  1. Identify methods of controlling risks
  2. Identify levels for applying the methods of controlling risks
  3. Develop mitigation strategies
  4. Evaluate the relative costs, collateral risks and benefits of mitigation strategies

Training Method and Performance Outcomes:
The workshop is a highly interactive training session which includes both theoretical and practical components and in which the participants play an important part. Information is obtained through lectures, demonstrations, brainstorming in small groups, assembling of ideas, presentation and discussion. The teaching approach fosters team-building and mutual understanding.
Participants are provided with various learning tools including the workshop manual which contains the complete course content, exercise, references and a glossary of terms.

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