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Friday, May 30 • 2:10pm - 2:30pm
(Case Studies in Sustainable Collection Care Session) Preserving The Future

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The Royal British Columbia Museum (RBCM) has been demonstrating leadership in sustainability for decades through research, innovation, community outreach and partnerships, and concrete initiatives that result in reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and prudent use of resources.

Museum staff members have not only embraced sustainable initiatives, but many are passionate about them. Employees commute by alternative forms of transportation. Bicycle racks and a tire pump are available in the loading dock area, as well as change rooms with showers. There are transit pass discounts for employees. Webinars and web chats have replaced many long distance meetings that would have required travel, reducing the carbon footprint.

Facilities upgrades and modifications have included large scale projects such as the installation of new energy-efficient HVAC systems and lighting retrofits, to almost unnoticeable changes such as motion sensor lights and green-certified hand washing products. Widespread recycling and even composting is routine and there are now solar-powered trash compactors on the grounds. From drought-resistant landscaping to recycled paper and building products, sustainable initiatives have grown in number and popularity. A popular feature in the lobby area is a dashboard flat screen that displays the institution’s real time energy consumption.

Sustainable collections care has been a challenge. Storing, transporting and displaying collections often use a great deal of non-biodegradable materials that must be discarded when soiled. Still, foam and board recycling is now common. The collections development plan is revisited every year to identify individual objects or even entire sub-collections that are not core to the Museum collecting mandate, are duplicates or are in such poor condition that they serve no purpose. For these and other reasons, deaccessioning can have a positive impact. Likewise, more consideration is given to new acquisitions, taking into account the time and resources that each accession will cost the institution and the environment. Delivery of loans and materials are synchronized as much as possible to reduce road trips.

Revisiting temperature and relative humidity requirements for specific collections has begun with increased communications between conservation and facilities management staff, resulting in efficiencies and ideas for re-organizing collections storage. Implementation of cold storage for deteriorating archival collections greatly prolongs the life of these media, but at the same time substantially increases the Museum’s carbon footprint. To offset this, individual, older energy consuming freezers are being decommissioned and selective retention employed to ensure that only preservation copies are given the Cadillac treatment. Meanwhile, a new digitization office has been established to begin the process of replacing some media that cannot be saved even by low temperatures. Similarly, digitized conservation and collections management documentation, as well as a new digital image repository have significantly reduced demand for paper supplies.

The future of the Royal BC Museum presents even more opportunities for sustainable choices. A Master Plan for the redevelopment of the buildings was released in August 2013. Through dialogue and formal planning sessions, opportunities for on-site power generation, green roofs, grey water recycling, and so on were identified and will become reality as the architectural plans develop. Conservators and collection managers now have an unparalleled opportunity to rethink the equipment and supplies they use, as well as the physical environment in which they work and keep the collections, to further implement sustainable preservation.

As a human and natural history museum, with experts in the areas of climate change and sustainability, it is incumbent upon the Royal BC Museum to be a leader in adopting sustainable programs and facilities, as well as reaching out to the broader community to influence our colleagues and visitors.

The Royal British Columbia Museum (RBCM) has been demonstrating leadership in sustainability for decades through research, innovation, community outreach and partnerships, and concrete initiatives that result in reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and prudent use of resources.

Museum staff members have not only embraced sustainable initiatives, but many are passionate about them. Employees commute by alternative forms of transportation. Bicycle racks and a tire pump are available in the loading dock area, as well as change rooms with showers. There are transit pass discounts for employees. Webinars and web chats have replaced many long distance meetings that would have required travel, reducing the carbon footprint.

Facilities upgrades and modifications have included large scale projects such as the installation of new energy-efficient HVAC systems and lighting retrofits, to almost unnoticeable changes such as motion sensor lights and green-certified hand washing products. Widespread recycling and even composting is routine and there are now solar-powered trash compactors on the grounds. From drought-resistant landscaping to recycled paper and building products, sustainable initiatives have grown in number and popularity. A popular feature in the lobby area is a dashboard flat screen that displays the institution’s real time energy consumption.

Sustainable collections care has been a challenge. Storing, transporting and displaying collections often use a great deal of non-biodegradable materials that must be discarded when soiled. Still, foam and board recycling is now common. The collections development plan is revisited every year to identify individual objects or even entire sub-collections that are not core to the Museum collecting mandate, are duplicates or are in such poor condition that they serve no purpose. For these and other reasons, deaccessioning can have a positive impact. Likewise, more consideration is given to new acquisitions, taking into account the time and resources that each accession will cost the institution and the environment. Delivery of loans and materials are synchronized as much as possible to reduce road trips.

Revisiting temperature and relative humidity requirements for specific collections has begun with increased communications between conservation and facilities management staff, resulting in efficiencies and ideas for re-organizing collections storage. Implementation of cold storage for deteriorating archival collections greatly prolongs the life of these media, but at the same time substantially increases the Museum’s carbon footprint. To offset this, individual, older energy consuming freezers are being decommissioned and selective retention employed to ensure that only preservation copies are given the Cadillac treatment. Meanwhile, a new digitization office has been established to begin the process of replacing some media that cannot be saved even by low temperatures. Similarly, digitized conservation and collections management documentation, as well as a new digital image repository have significantly reduced demand for paper supplies.

The future of the Royal BC Museum presents even more opportunities for sustainable choices. A Master Plan for the redevelopment of the buildings was released in August 2013. Through dialogue and formal planning sessions, opportunities for on-site power generation, green roofs, grey water recycling, and so on were identified and will become reality as the architectural plans develop. Conservators and collection managers now have an unparalleled opportunity to rethink the equipment and supplies they use, as well as the physical environment in which they work and keep the collections, to further implement sustainable preservation.

As a human and natural history museum, with experts in the areas of climate change and sustainability, it is incumbent upon the Royal BC Museum to be a leader in adopting sustainable programs and f

Session Moderator(s)
avatar for Sarah Nunberg

Sarah Nunberg

Conservator, The Objects Conservation Studio, LLC
Sarah Nunberg, principal of The Objects Conservation Studio, LLC, has been working as a conservator since 1989. She specializes in conservation of archaeological, ethnographic, decorative and contemporary art, treating objects made of wood, ceramic, stone, metal, glass, skin, leather and bone, providing exemplary care for fine art, guidance on collections storage and maintenance, and collection surveys. She began her career in archaeology at Yale... Read More →

Speaker(s)
avatar for Kasey Lee

Kasey Lee

Conservation Manager, Royal British Columbia Museum
Kasey Lee (formerly Kasey Brewer), has worked as the Conservation Manager at the Royal British Columbia Museum in beautiful Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, for almost ten years. Kasey leads a staff of five conservators and one preservation specialist in three separate laboratories, spanning the Museum and Archives. She is primarily engaged in preventive conservation, outreach work, conservation education, and risk analysis and management... Read More →

Co-Author(s)
PL

Pamela Lowings

Head of Property Management & Site Development, Royal British Columbia Museum
Pam Lowings has spent more than two decades working in the property management and facilities management field.  Pam leads a team of professionals who oversees property management and operations, facility rental program, shipping and risk management and security services.  Pam loves working at the Royal BC Museum and is passionate about making sure the collections and archives is protected and that the visitor has a wonderful experience... Read More →


Friday May 30, 2014 2:10pm - 2:30pm
Grand Ballroom A

Attendees (62)