International Foundation For Art Research (IFAR) www.ifar.org
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ART LOSS, DAMAGE, AND REPERCUSSIONS
Proceedings of an IFAR Symposium on February 28, 2002
The Downtown Institutional Impact page 2
by John Haworth
EFFECTS OF 9/11 ON OUR GALLERIES AND COLLECTIONS
Post 9/11, there was a massive neighborhood clean up, and inside our building, there was an extraordinary cleaning effort, as if we were asbestos contaminated (which we were not). Our landlord, the General Services Administration, cleaned the historic interior on a highly professional level. A Seth Eastman watercolor exhibit was on view 9/11 in an open area that was, fortunately, out of harm's way. (The exhibit was extended thanks to our lending partner, the Afton Press in Minnesota). The Reginald Marsh murals and the Tiffany work in the Collector's Office was all fine. The Rotunda and Collector's Office were part of a massive interior clean-up effort.
HOW THE MUSEUM'S STAFF RESPONDED
On September 11th, one staff member was near the World Trade Center and was hit by building debris. Another person was coming to work from New Jersey and was in the PATH train station at time of impact. Another had a child in a neighborhood school. Others have had terrible commuting problems for months (and still do). Some staff have lost what counselors might refer to as a "sense of boundaries and what is appropriate." Others responded to 9/11 by going overboard with communication, while still others became unusually silent. Many people were in a "panic" mode for weeks. Overall, the staff has been strong, capable, professional and dedicated to the museum's mission throughout these difficult months.
The museum welcomed the staff back with a special lunch and had regular and frequent meetings, especially those first few weeks after 9/11. Employee Assistance Program (EAP) services with both one-on-one and group counseling have been provided. All of this has been extremely tiring and has tested my own capacities as a museum professional and manager. There have been departmental jurisdiction questions, complicated by our residing in a building with other tenants (for example, the General Services Administration, Federal Protective Services, and Bankruptcy Courts). We are still ironing out how best to handle a myriad of policies to address emergency responses, fire drills, disaster preparedness plans (which take into account both people and collections) and even the protocols of employee telephone trees, the need for quality time for staff with discussions, and, of course, trying our best to listen to one another's concerns and issues.