Museum Monday: Get the App! Heritage Preservation’s Emergency Response and Salvage Wheel

Don’t stop to think. Go to the App Store now and download ERS on every device you have.

Heritage Preservation and the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training (of the National Park Service) have brought museum emergency response and salvage into the 21st century: the Emergency Response and Salvage Wheel is now an app – AND IT IS FREE. This is good news for small museums with limited access to emergency preparedness knowledge, and lazy museums, who haven’t been able to ramp up the emergency planning process yet (shame on your board). Heritage Preservation, which fostered the creation of the original Wheel, is a national non-profit dedicated to the preservation of our cultural heritage. Run, don’t walk, to their fantastic website. And while you are at it, join into their May Day program – on May 1, do one thing for emergency preparedness. Hold a meeting to restart your museum’s emergency preparedness program, update your response plan, or even better, host a response drill with the local fire department and police.

The Wheel is a legend among small museums – it’s a double disk you spin to the information you need during response and salvage of damaged objects. It comes in a plastic bag to protect it from wet conditions. But in case one of your staff walked off with your wheel and never brought it back, or if your wheel burned up in a fire, you can now carry the information on your iPhone, iPod, or iPad. It’s technologically low key, but the information is there. Plans are in the works to make the app much more interactive in the future.

Boston Molasses Flood, 1919. Talk about risk assessment.

The Wheel and ERS aren’t replacements for a comprehensive emergency preparedness campaign, but it is a safety net until a solid program is in place. Visit Heritage Preservation for information on their other programs, including Alliance for Response, National Heritage Emergency Task Force, Save Outdoor Sculpture, the Heritage Health Index, Connecting to Collections, and much, much more.


About Becky Fifield

Becky Fifield is a cultural heritage professional with 25 years experience in institutions large and small. She is currently Head of Collection Management for the Special Collections of the New York Public Library. An advocate for preventive conservation, Ms. Fifield is a Professional Associate of the American Institute for Conservation, Chair of the AIC Collection Care Network, and former Chair of Alliance for Response NYC. She is also a scholar of 18th century female unfree labor and dress. There's a bit of pun in the title The Still Room, delineating a quiet space brimming with the ingredients of memory, where consideration, analysis, and wordcraft can take place. Ms. Fifield’s interests include museum practice, dress history, historic preservation, transit, social and women’s history, food, current events, geneaology, roadtrips, and considerations on general sense of place. Becky and her husband, Dr. V, live in the Hudson Valley.