For Melissa’s final year at the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation, she spent a portion of her time working with the Smithsonian National Collections Program (NCP) as part of her responsibility of working with the Museum Conservation Institute (MCI).
NCP is overseen by the Under Secretary for Museums and Culture who in turn reports to the Deputy Secretary and the Secretary (see the organizational structure here). Within this role, NCP actively advises Smithsonian senior leadership, collecting unit directors, and staff on collections stewardship to address Institution-wide needs. NCP is the central unit for creating policy and compliance for Smithsonian collections while continually developing programs to enhance ongoing efforts for collections care. This is done through central leadership, policy oversight, strategic planning, and support to Institution-wide collections initiatives.
Preservation Environment Subcommittee
Melissa has been an active participant of the Preservation Environment Subcommittee within the Collection Space Committee (CSC). Following the Smithsonian’s 2012 Summit on the Museum Preservation Environment, an ad-hoc working group was started that eventually formed into the present subcommittee in 2019. Its aim is to create an interdisciplinary approach between collections and facilities professionals to promote evidence-based decision making as a means to sustainably improve collections environment spaces.
Melissa’s supervisor at MCI, Becky, is the co-leader with Dan Davies, a Smithsonian Facilities Manager. This group has monthly meetings, and they also lead a session at NCP’s annual C3 conference (Collections Collaboration Community). One of the results of this session was the development of a series of tours of HVAC systems co-lead by facilities and collections “teams” at their respective museums.
Preparedness and Response for Collections Emergencies (PRICE)
Melissa has also been attending PRICE meetings and learning more about the collective effort of the team to develop a more cohesive emergency response plan and training for Smithsonian collecting units pan-institutionally, with a goal of helping to create basic collections emergency response skills across disciplines in the institution. The PRICE team was established as a means to support individual Smithsonian collecting units’ and pan-Institutional collections emergency planning in the following subjects (each forms an “action team”):
- Policies and procedures
Along with Smithsonian collecting units, PRICE collaborates with the Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative (SCRI), the Office of Emergency Management (OEM), and the Office of Safety, Health, and Environmental Management (OSHEM) among others to create and disseminate information to Smithsonian staff.