Emergency advice

COVID-19 and recommendations for heritage institutions

Given the situation surrounding COVID-19, the Canadian Conservation Institute (CCI) is no longer able to follow up on the requests that will be submitted until further notice. Upon resumption of regular CCI activities, we will be able to follow up on requests received. CCI would like to thank you for your understanding.

In the current context surrounding COVID-19, the Canadian Conservation Institute would like to share some recommendations for heritage institutions.


First and foremost, we encourage everyone to follow the latest advice from their regional public health authorities.

Concerning your heritage collections:

  1. If you are faced with having to shut down your institution, we refer you to CCI Note 1/3 Closing a Museum for the Winter for tips on how to do this safely and efficiently.
  2. To protect yourself in your workplace, we refer you to the Government of Canada’s Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Being prepared resource, in particular the “For workplaces” section. Furthermore, we remind you that the virus does spread via contact with contaminated surfaces, which can include objects and collections. This is the warning from the World Health Organization:
    • When someone who has COVID-19 coughs or exhales they release droplets of infected fluid. Most of these droplets fall on nearby surfaces and objects - such as desks, tables or telephones. People could catch COVID-19 by touching contaminated surfaces or objects – and then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. (Getting your workplace ready for COVID-19 [PDF format])
  3. As the virus is able to live on surfaces for several days, our best advice is to avoid contact with heritage objects for some time to reduce the likelihood of viral exposure. If handling collections cannot be avoided, wearing the appropriate personal protective equipment is required.
  4. Please note that the information circulating from various sources on how to disinfect surfaces (for example, desks, tables, telephones) can be very dangerous for some objects. To avoid damaging your collection, always consult a professional conservator before doing any kind of treatment. For this, we refer you to the Canadian Association for Conservation of Cultural Property and the Canadian Association of Professional Conservators to find conservators in your area.

In addition, all business travel has been suspended for the time being. As you know, the situation is evolving. We will continue to monitor it and provide updates to those who are affected.

The Canadian Conservation Institute (CCI) offers emergency advice to Canada's heritage community in the aftermath of a fire, flood, earthquake or other catastrophes. For individuals, CCI offers a list of resources containing information on salvaging personal valuables.

For advice from CCI, members of the Canadian heritage community can call 1-866-998-3721 day or night and press 0 for Security.

Inform the operator that you have an emergency to ensure your call is given top priority. During normal working hours your call will be passed immediately to someone who can assist you. During non-working hours, the operator will request the following details from you:

  • your name, institution, location, and your telephone number;
  • the nature of the collection affected;
  • the type, extent, and severity of damage; and
  • what action, if any, has been taken so far.

This information will be conveyed to a CCI staff member, and you will be contacted as soon as possible.

If onsite conservation assistance is required, institutions are encouraged to first contact the Canadian Association of Professional Conservators. This association has a list of local conservators that will be able to respond more quickly and will also be more familiar with local resources. However, in the event that local expertise is not available, CCI may provide onsite conservation services.

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