Promoting Exhibit Access and Safety (PEAS)

Melissa was invited to join a group of preservation professionals and architects to discuss strategies for minimizing guest interaction with collection items on display. She was invited by Mary Coughlin, a Professor of Preventive Conservation at George Washington University. The group has since expanded to include security staff, and representatives from museums across the world but largely within the DC area.

PEAS has been having monthly meetings since December, and have worked together to define strategies to prevent intentional and unintentional guest interactions with the art. Here are some of the ideas that have been discussed:

  • Create a feedback loop in the exhibition design process that involves suggestions from security staff who witness guest behavior daily
  • Provide an orientation for guests (possibly as a video) on best practices for within the museum
  • With COVID-19 and the high likelihood of pre-registered timed entries, there are some opportunities to share an orientation at this phase
  • Build a community between security staff and the rest of the museum that elevates respect amongst colleagues and the work they do
  • Develop and share de-escalation tactics and means of approaching guests that are effective at reducing the risk
  • Consider architecture and guest flow as an important design aspect to mitigate interaction

The initial group meetings served as an exploratory time to decide next steps. Most recently there have been discussions about making the group more official within a professional network and/or organization a summit or panel to discuss these issues with a larger group.