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  • Arianna Zakrzewski, Intern

Creating a Disaster and Emergency Response Plan for Lippitt House Museum

Updated: Nov 18, 2020

I have been lucky enough to intern remotely with Lippitt House Museum this summer through my graduate program at Johns Hopkins University. Over the course of the past twelve weeks, I have worked with museum director Carrie Taylor to create a Disaster Planning and Emergency Response Plan for the museum. Due to the pandemic, this was a remote internship; unfortunately I was not able to work in the building directly, but I still feel that I was able to get the full “intern experience” given the circumstances. Using the existing documents on the museum, such as the Lippitt House Historic Structure Report, I used an online disaster planning tool, D-Plan, to assess risks, lay out preventive plans to protect the house and its collections, and create evacuation and mitigation plans for various disaster scenarios.

This was a timely project, given the kinds of curveballs 2020 has thrown us. While museums and other institutions have been closed to the public during the pandemic, many have been able to take this time to work on institutional improvement projects that may have fallen by the wayside during regular day-to-day operations. In this case, the lockdown—and my remote internship—created the perfect opportunity for Lippitt House Museum to get their disaster plans down on paper. Emergency response plans are important for any organization or institution, but especially for museums housing historic collections like those found within Lippitt House’s halls. This year has shown us that truly anything is possible, and it’s better to have a plan ready to go if something goes wrong than to scramble at the last minute. A lack of preparedness can not only endanger collections, but it can endanger the lives of the people present in some cases as well. My remote experience at Lippitt House Museum has been informative and thought provoking, and I’m excited to know that my work this summer will benefit the museum, its collections, and its staff, volunteers, and visitors for years to come.

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