Blue Shield is the cultural equivalent of the Red Cross. It is an international committee, working to protect the world’s cultural heritage threatened by armed conflict and natural disasters.
Blue Shield Australia (BSA) is a member of both the Association of National Committees of the Blue Shield (ANCBS) and of the International Committee of the Blue Shield (ICBS).
Blue Shield Australia run an annual MayDay Campaign, promoting disaster planning and awareness amongst archives, libraries, museums, galleries, local history groups and other cultural heritage organisations during the month of May.
Below are the suggested activities that were promoted this year:
- Develop a disaster plan – For ideas go to:
- Revise Your Existing Disaster Preparedness Plan – As the bushfire and cyclone season passes, now is a good time to reflect on past events and new developments. Have there been changes to the building – leaks, renovations, security issues, natural or man-made disasters…?
- Review – What happened, Strengths and weaknesses in the Response and Recovery, What could have been done differently? These considerations should inform any revisions to your plan.
- Training – Trial runs and basic training are important ways to make any Disaster Plan truly useful. This ensures all staff are aware of the plan and know their role in the event of an emergency.
- Make Emergency Contacts – Do you know your local Emergency Service providers? Fire fighters? Plumbers? Do they know about your heritage site or collection? Developing relationships before an emergency can start productive discussions about how to approach heritage places and collections in or after a disaster, taking in the needs of the collection and buildings.
- Network building – Developing and nurturing support networks builds stronger communities and links to prepare for and deal with the aftermath of natural disasters. See what existing networks are doing:
- Extra-Curricular – Read or Watch films about the incredible efforts to protect cultural heritage during and after WWII
- The Rape of Europa by Lynn H. Nicholas;
- The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History by Robert M. Edsel.
Remember: Extreme weather, accidents, database failure, theft, war, and vandalism to collections, heritage sites and buildings create disasters for cultural heritage. We can’t always prevent disaster and damage but planning against such threats can reduce their impact and builds resilience for heritage in our institutions.