What to do when your artifact collection gets wet
The recent flooding in Alberta damaged many historic resources. The damage was not limited to historic buildings—sadly museums and archives have also been affected. We know that the Museum of the Highwood in High River was hit quite hard. The museum occupies the Canadian Pacific Railway Station, a Provincial Historic Resource. While the full extent of the damage to both the building and the collection is still being assessed, much of the collection was submerged in river water for several days.
There is no doubt that many more artifacts in both private collections and recognized museums have been damaged by the flooding. Flooding can be catastrophic for any historic resource, but it is possible to mitigate the damage. Our friends at the Alberta Museums Association have assembled documents on how to deal with flood damaged artifacts (see Flood Relief Resources on their webpage). I encourage you to consult these as a first step.
If you have questions regarding flood recovery or emergency planning you can contact the Alberta Museums Association at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Also, the Canadian Conservation Institute offers emergency advice to Canada’s heritage community in the aftermath of a fire, flood, earthquake or other catastrophe to help with the salvage and recovery of their collections.
Written by: Michael Thome, Municipal Heritage Services Officer