Risk management for heritage collections

Are risks to your collection keeping you awake at night?

As resources shrink and demand for access grows, heritage professionals confront new challenges in the management of their collections.

  • Should objects be exhibited in non-museum spaces?
  • Is it safe to hold a public event in one of the display galleries?
  • How best to sustain collections of unstable modern materials such as contemporary art collections?
  • Which preservation improvement should we implement if we can only afford one?

The following resources will help you address these challenges and other collection management decisions. They introduce an innovative method based on the risk management framework used in many other fields.

The ABC Method: a risk management approach to the preservation of cultural heritage

[PDF version, 3 MB]

This manual offers a comprehensive understanding of risk management applied to the preservation of heritage assets, whether collections, buildings or sites. It provides a step-by-step procedure and a variety of tools to guide the heritage professional in applying the ABC method to their own context. The method can be applied to a range of situations, from analysis of a single risk to a comprehensive risk assessment of the entire heritage asset.

Note: the CCI Risk Management Database mentioned in this document is now called the ABC Risk Management System for Cultural Heritage. You can access it below.

The ABC Risk Management System for Cultural Heritage

The ABC Risk Management System for Cultural Heritage (or ABC System) is a tool to support institutions who are interested in implementing the ABC method of risk management. The Canadian Conservation Institute (CCI) partnered with the Casa de Oswaldo Cruz (Fiocruz) and ICCROM (the International Center for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property) to create a risk-based decision-making tool for cultural heritage managers. The tool can be accessed online via a browser by multiple users from the same institution. It is available free of charge by clicking on the links below.

A Guide to Risk Management of Cultural Heritage [PDF format]

This guide is an abridged version of the manual The ABC Method: a risk management approach to the preservation of cultural heritage. The guide explains the ABC Method using many images, basic examples and simple exercises. It has been designed to introduce the risk-based approach to decision makers and to promote its use by heritage professionals.

Both publications were the result of collaboration between CCI and ICCROM.

Risk management webcast recordings

In March 2016, the Risk Management and Risk-based Decision Making for Museum, Gallery, Archive and Historic House Collections workshop was held at CCI. Webcast recordings from this advanced professional development workshop explain how to use risk management techniques to make decisions regarding care of collections on display and in storage.

Why risk-based decision making? (José Luiz Pedersoli)

This video was created by the Canadian Conservation Institute.

Transcript | Watch on YouTube

Why the value pie? (José Luiz Pedersoli)

This video was created by the Canadian Conservation Institute.

Transcript | Watch on YouTube

Cost, effectiveness and cost-effectiveness ratio (Stefan Michalski)

This video was created by the Canadian Conservation Institute.

Transcript | Watch on YouTube

Frameworks, Maps, Tools and Patterns (Irene Karsten)

This video was created by the Canadian Conservation Institute.

Transcript | Watch on YouTube

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