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Papyrus—Spring 2016


Caption for cover image:

Expansion and Renovation of  Harvard Art Museums designed by the Renzo Piano Building Workshop with Payette as the local architects.Photo:


Letter from the Editor


Welcome to the spring issue of Papyrus! With the days growing longer, I am sure we are all looking forward to some summer warmth creeping into our days. I must confess, however, that when I stepped out to catch my bus this morning, I was greeted with snow-covered lawns and ice on the pavement. Still, it was daylight, so that is great to see.

Putting together this issue has certainly been a bit of a rollercoaster. Tuesday, March 1 dawned with only one article to our name, so it was with some concern that Joe May took to LinkedIn to ask for some help—and, by goodness, our membership certainly did respond. By the end of the week, we had received over a dozen articles. So a massive thank you from Joe and I, for responding so quickly.

As I have said in most of these letters, Papyrus is your magazine, and I am sure you all have a story to tell. We are usually the ones who get to translate the great ideas that our trustees, sponsors, and supporters have for our institutions into something that works. We may have world-renowned architects building masterpieces, but it is usually down to the facilities boys and girls to make their creations work.

There are stories all around us, so why not start thinking about an article? It doesn’t need to be long or technical—just tell us your experiences, and include a few good-quality photographs. The deadline for the next edition of Papyrus is July 1, and we’d love to hear from you.

This issue is, as always, full of great information. A special thank you, first of all, to Craig Robertson, my colleague at the National Library of Scotland, who put together a recent survey on IAMFA conferences. The survey is something the Board has been thinking about for awhile, and Craig picked up the ball and ran with it. We’ve included the survey results in this issue, so have a look and learn what you and your colleagues think about our conferences. And, whilst a lot of hard work goes into producing and analysing a survey, it would be nothing without your thoughtful responses, so a very big thank you to everyone who took the time to complete the survey.

This month’s feature articles cover a wide range of issues important to us all. You will read, for example about “Snowzilla”—the nickname for the blizzard that hit Washington, D.C. this winter. Stephanie Lieberman reports how she and her colleagues at the Smithsonian, Office of Facilities Management and Reliability, dealt with this monster to keep the show on the road. On a lighter note, check out the elephant playing in the snow.

There are also great articles on several museums. Patrick Shields reports on critical renovations at the Milwaukee Art Museum, which many of us visited on the Thursday following the main Chicago conference. Patrick Jones and Michael Murphy report on the efforts to reduce the “Summertime Blues” at the Art Institute of Chicago—which sounds like a cue for a musical article, but is instead about the serious issue of electrical maximum demands and the potential financial consequences.

We also hear from Shengyin Xu and her colleagues at the Minnesota Historical Society regarding research undertaken with Jeremy Linden of Rochester’s Image Permanence Institute prior to designing their film storage archive. And, once again, we are indebted to Jay Yelen at the Chicago History Museum for yet another quality piece of writing. This time, Jay reports on his efforts to rein in electrical consumption by raising a question I have addressed many times before: just how much fresh air should be designed into mechanical ventilation installations?

In the Winter 2015–2016 issue of Papyrus, we included a short article by Kendra Gastright about fostering relationships, which we have included again in this issue. This is an invitation to join us in Montreal for a joint AIC (American Institute of Conservation)/IAMFA seminar at the annual meeting of the CAC-ACCR (Canadian Association for Conservation/Association Canadienne pour la Conservation et le Restauration).

In her article, Kendra invites you to join AIC, CAC and IAMFA members and allied collections professionals to explore our shared risks and responsibilities at an and interactive seminar held before the start of the 2016 AIC/CAC/ACCR meeting. I will be presenting on behalf of IAMFA, essentially to speak about our experiences working with our conservation colleagues in the UK. As we have reported in previous editions of Papyrus, in the UK—and occasionally with our European colleagues—we hold an annual meeting with our conservation colleagues to learn from one another. I hope some of you can make it to Montreal on May 13 at the Palais des congrès, if only to give me some moral support.

I hope you enjoy this issue of Papyrus!


Jack Plumb



Message from the President

By Nancy Bechtol


There is one thing in this world that we can count on, and that is that nothing stays the same. Change will happen. IAMFA is no exception. In December 2015, we were notified by Brian Coleman that he had accepted a new position, and was leaving Museum Victoria in Melbourne, Australia. Within a single second, we had lost a member of our Board and the host organization for our 2017 conference.
We have regrouped this past month, however, and Guy Larocque has come forward with an offer to host our 2017 conference in Ottawa, Canada instead. As a past President of IAMFA, and past conference chair he knows exactly what is involved, and has already begun to secure a hotel contract. Canada will be celebrating its 150th birthday in 2017, so it will be a great time to visit the capital of this wonderful country. We are also working with both Shaun Woodhouse and Steve Devereaux to hopefully gather member interest in a future Melbourne-Hobart Australian conference. I have no doubt we will all get to Australia eventually, with those two doing their magic!

I am so thankful for Brian Coleman’s participation on the IAMFA Board these past two years. We are all very sorry to see him go, and already miss his help and support. We could always count on Brian to offer a different way of looking at issues with which we were grappling, and he always had helpful solutions. Brian, we wish you well!

Every year at this time, we put a call out for nominations for upcoming vacancies on the Board. This year, the terms for Randy Murphy, Vice-President of Administration; Jack Plumb, Editor; and Nancy Bechtol, President are all ending right after our October annual meeting. We welcome any member to submit their name to Alan Dirican if they are interested in serving on the Board. It is a fabulous volunteer job, and a great way to give back to our profession. Please consider serving a two-year term—the time really does fly by—and let Alan know of your interest. He promises to put the slate of candidates together for members to vote on before our Annual Meeting in October.

Our planning team has been very busy in the New England area, organizing our 26th annual conference in October. Jim Moisson has put together an amazing team, and they are pulling together an outstanding schedule of tours and programs for us all to enjoy. I personally can’t wait to see the new Renzo Piano addition at the Harvard Art Museums. Jim has worked tirelessly on that project and it will be a treat for us all to see. We will spend one day at the Peabody Essex Museum, one day at Harvard Art Museums, and one day between the Museum of Fine Arts and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

On our last optional day, we will travel to Stockbridge, Massachusetts to visit Naumkeag, and Williamstown to visit the Clark Art Institute. I am already looking forward to travelling to the New England area in early October, when the fall colors should be amazing in and of themselves! This, coupled with our usual behind-the-scenes tours of each museum will create a memorable conference. The work involved in organizing a conference of this size is tremendous, and we owe Jim Moisson and his team a huge debt of gratitude for this level of service to IAMFA and its membership.

Although the museums and cities we visit change each year, the majority of our members do not. Our networking is legendary, because of the time we spend during our fall meeting catching up with everyone and hearing about all of the new projects and techniques everyone is using at their facilities. New members are quickly brought into the fold and mentored throughout the conference to make sure they are meeting everyone and making many new professional contacts. If you have never attended one of IAMFA’s 25 previous annual meetings, please consider doing so this October; I promise it will not be your last!

I could not be more pleased with the level of activity in many of our Chapters in the six months since our meeting in Chicago. Our Ottawa Chapter in Canada is up and running, and now they even have an annual meeting to plan! Our New York Chapter has a meeting scheduled this month, and I actually hope to attend that meeting myself since we have two Smithsonian museums in New York. The Washington, D.C. and California Chapters continue to hold regular meetings, and have organized some great tours and lectures. Tiffany Myers is now overseeing all of our IAMFA Chapters for the Board, and doing an excellent job keeping everyone informed.

The speed of activity within the IAMFA organization is continuing at a record pace these days, with great plans for our future. The quality of our professional membership is why we are so strong. I often think that the sky is the limit within this wonderful organization because of our members. Please continue to support us, and let us know if you have any ideas that can help our organization remain strong well into the future. Any Board member, including myself, would love to hear from you!

Nancy Bechtol



Letter from the Secretary

By David Sanders


What does a secretary do? Well, retiring from full-time employment first is an advantage if you hope to fit in all the things you’ve always wanted to do but never had the time. Secondly, play golf three times a week, and travel to far-flung places as often as possible. Thirdly, continue to be Chairman of The Energy Consortium, a public-sector entity that purchases utilities on behalf of its members. Fourthly, become a Trustee of Mitcham Golf Club, and fifthly, be the Chairman of Southwark District Scouts. After all that, fit in being Secretary of IAMFA.

What does that involve? Timetabling the monthly teleconference Board meetings, drawing up the agenda, requesting written reports from Board members, calling the meeting to order, taking minutes, noting and allocating action points, preparing and circulating the draft minutes for comment, making any amendments, doing the same for the mid-year and conference board meetings, organising the AGM agenda, keeping the records both electronically and physically— oh, and hanging on to the official seal for safekeeping.

Since I have been on the Board, we have completely re-organised the way we all work. Specific duties have been allocated to each member, covering every aspect of IAMFA’s activities: Finance, Membership, Sponsorship, Conference, Papyrus, Website, LinkedIn, Benchmarking, Education, Regional Affairs, Administration, Strategy.

Each Board member is expected to report monthly on his or her specific area, and to participate in collective discussions in order to ensure that sensible decisions are reached on a consensus basis. The Board is there to ensure that the best interests of you the members are reflected, and I am proud to be able to be part of such a great association.

See you in Boston!


David Sanders BEng.(Hons) CEng. MCIBSE retired as the Director of Estates for the

Natural History Museum in London, and serves as the Secretary of IAMFA. David can be reached at


Update on Plans for the 26th Annual IAMFA Conference in New England

By Jim Moisson


It is a pleasure to write as your New England Conference chair this year. We are busy putting together a great conference with host museums in Boston, Cambridge, Salem and Williamstown. Our team includes Pete Atkinson, also of Harvard Art Museums; Bob Monk and Toni Ponte of Peabody Essex Museum; Kevin Eames of the Museum of Fine Arts; Michael Holland of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum; and Bill Powers of the Clark Art Institute. We are also delighted to have old friends Dave Geldart and Jim Labeck on the team, due to their pivotal roles at the MFA and Gardner, respectively, during their major projects.


Our theme this year is Renewal and Growth: Opportunities and Challenges for 21st-Century Museums, Libraries and Archives. We are planning presentations that will tell many stories based on our experiences spending about $1 billion U.S. in the recent past on these institutions’ facilities. Topics under consideration include project planning and execution, LED lighting and control, etc. In keeping with one of the greatest IAMFA traditions, we will also have plenty of time for individual conversations about the projects, sharing successes and pitfalls.


The guest program will be led by Joni Parker-Roach. Those of you who attended the 2004 conference will remember her fondly. Her energy, warmth and knowledge—and our planning together—will make for a delightful guest program.


Our conference dates remain Sunday, October 2, 2016 through Wednesday, October 5.    Our hotel is the Back Bay Hilton, located amidst Boston’s historic neighborhood of the same name, complete with shopping, restaurants and sightseeing. Keith McClanahan of Facility Issues will conduct the annual Benchmarking Meeting all day on Sunday.   


The conference proper will begin on Sunday evening with our Opening Reception at Fogo de Chao, a Brazilian steakhouse in Boston’s historic Copley Square. From Monday through Wednesday, we will visit our host institutions: the Peabody Essex Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museums and Harvard Art Museums.   


We also have a wonderful optional Thursday excursion planned: a bus trip to the northwestern corner of Massachusetts to see Naumkeag, a wonderful historical property belonging to Trustees of Reservations in Stockbridge, as well as the magnificent Clark Art Institute in Williamstown. This journey through the colorful New England autumnal countryside will be punctuated by a New England-style Thanksgiving lunch at the Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge. Having heard how fondly people remember the lobster meal from the 2004 conference, we are working out exactly where to have this year’s lobster feast on the Monday evening following our day in Salem at the Peabody Essex.


Plans are coming together well and we look very much forward to seeing you in October.


James Moisson is Senior Facilities Manager at Harvard Art Museums, and is the Chair of the 26th Annual Conference in New England.


The Peabody Essex Museum

Over the past 20 years, the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) has distinguished itself as one of the fastest-growing art museums in North America. Founded in 1799, it is also the country’s oldest continuously operating museum.

At its heart is a mission to enrich and transform people's lives by broadening their perspectives, attitudes and knowledge of themselves and the wider world. PEM celebrates outstanding artistic and cultural creativity through exhibitions, programming and special events that emphasize cross-cultural connections, integrate past and present, and underscore the vital importance of creative expression.

The Museum's collection is among the finest of its kind, boasting superlative works from around the globe and across time—including American art and architecture, Asian export art, photography, maritime art and history, and Native American, Oceanic and African art. PEM's campus affords a varied and unique visitor experience, with hands-on creativity zones, interactive opportunities and performance spaces.

Twenty-four noted historical structures grace PEM’s campus—including Yin Yu Tang, a 200-year-old Chinese house that is the only such example of Chinese domestic architecture on display in the United States, and the Phillips Library, which houses one of the nation’s most important museum-based collections of rare books and manuscripts.

The Peabody Essex Museum will host the 26th IAMFA annual conference on October 3, 2016. For more information, please visit


Image 2016 1 Peabody Essex Museum
The Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts.


Harvard Art Museums


The Harvard Art Museums are among the world’s leading art institutions. They comprise three museums—the Fogg, Busch-Reisinger, and Arthur M. Sackler Museums—and four research centers: the Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies, the Center for the Technical Study of Modern Art, the Harvard Art Museums Archives, and the Archaeological Exploration of Sardis. 

The Fogg Museum includes Western art from the Middle Ages to the present. The Busch-Reisinger Museum, which is unique among North American museums, is dedicated to the study of all modes and periods of art from Central and Northern Europe, with an emphasis on German-speaking countries. And the Arthur M. Sackler Museum is focused on Asian, ancient, Islamic and later Indian art. Together, the collections include approximately 250,000 objects in all media.

The Harvard Art Museums are distinguished by the range and depth of their collections, their groundbreaking exhibitions, and the original research of their staff. Integral to Harvard University and the wider community, the museums and research centers serve as resources for students, scholars, and the public. For more than a century, they have been the nation’s premier training ground for museum professionals, and are renowned for their seminal role in developing the discipline of art history in the United States.

The Harvard Art Museums’ recent renovation and expansion builds upon the legacies of the three museums, and unites their remarkable collections under one roof for the first time. Renzo Piano Building Workshop’s responsive design preserved the Fogg Museum’s landmark 1927 facility, while transforming the space to accommodate 21st-century needs.

Following a six-year building project, the museums now feature 40 percent more gallery space, an expanded Art Study Center, conservation labs, and classrooms, and a striking new glass roof that bridges the facility’s historical and contemporary architecture. The new Harvard Art Museums’ building is more functional, accessible, spacious and, above all, more transparent. The three constituent museums retain their distinct identities in this new facility, yet their close proximity provides exciting opportunities to experience works of art in a broader context.

The Harvard Art Museums new facility is one of our sites for the 26th annual IAMFA conference in October 2106.


Insert image 2016 1 Harvard 3

Caption: The new Harvard Art Museums facility.


Progress Report on the Smithsonian Institution’s RCM Implementation Journey

By Kendra Gastright


The Smithsonian Institution (SI) began seeking increased federal funding in 2000 to restore its infrastructure after decades of understating requirements. Independent studies were commissioned, papers produced, and processes audited to validate the request.

Recommendations included accurately stating requirements, developing a clear and unified budget, and creating a responsive organization capable of integrated service delivery. A major tenet of this responsive organization was the establishment of reliability-centered maintenance (RCM) strategies at SI. We are in our 15th year of that implementation.

SI has an in-house operations and maintenance (O&M) staff of nearly 900. Unlike a production facility, there is no single “money-maker” piece of equipment. We produce an appropriate environment for world-class science to take place, and for our nation’s collection to be on display and maintained in perpetuity. We have hundreds of buildings in seven states, as well as the District of Columbia and Panama.

Previously, O&M was managed by each individual museum; the new and current structure at SI is a single facilities directorate. The maintenance budget was separated from the capital budget to improve control and visibility, and to increase preventive and proactive maintenance functions with standard terminology that clearly defines maintenance as separate from major repair and restoration.

SI divided the now massive central O&M organization into more agile and reactive zone units capable of resolving day-to-day issues. The zone structure improves management’s relationships with the museums, and provides a single chain of accountability for all facility-management issues. Standard policies and procedures for all O&M activities were established. Staff are in, or close to, each facility to handle routine requirements. Each group of staff has become familiar with their assigned facilities, and has developed a sense of ownership. Additionally, zones streamline administrative functions, eliminate redundant purchasing, and improve response. Functions too costly to maintain at each facility are provided centrally.


Reliability-Centered Maintenance

Despite satisfying all recommendations from our studies, budget increases never fully met needs. SI saw slow but steady growth from 2000 to 2010, when the maintenance budget peaked. Since then, the budget has fallen slightly and now remains flat.


RCM was introduced in 2001, as a strategy to stretch the maintenance budget, by the director of facilities, who had been newly recruited from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), where RCM was a regular practice. This top-down direction ensured that RCM would be funded, but posed interesting challenges, such as those outlined below.


  • No knowledge of RCM among existing staff and management

SI hired an expert RCM consultant, who recommended piloting various technologies. A small group was trained in infrared thermography, airborne ultrasound, motor-circuit evaluation, vibration analysis, oil analysis and laser alignment. These staff members have certified expertise in many of these technologies.


  • Limited use of the existing computer maintenance management system (CMMS)

SI’s heavily customized CMMS was due for a major overhaul. On average, two staff members worked regularly with the CMMS. A great deal of time, effort and funding went into managing the upgrade, designing a user-friendly interface, and encouraging greater use.


  • Outdated asset inventory

Zones self-managed their inventories: they decided what to inventory, had unique nomenclature, and had no procedures to update when equipment was replaced. Zones didn’t care about the inventory, because they were still managing maintenance on three-ring binders and clipboards. A mass update of the inventory to coincide with the date of the CMMS overhaul was required.


  • Aging workforce with a narrow range of technical skills

Nearly 40% of SI’s O&M staff is eligible for retirement. They are extremely talented and can “fix” anything. The fixes are ingenious, but ultimately are not meant to be permanent. At any given time, a tour of the mechanical spaces reveals myriad jury-rigged and sometimes Rube-Goldberg-like solutions.

Many staff were offended that SI sought such a drastic change in practices. They saw little value in the CMMS, and were resentful of the small RCM-trained group, who were promoted to higher grades. Some staff viewed time spent on the CMMS as a waste, taking them away from the field, suggesting that they knew better than a computer how to do their jobs. These issues created tension, and sabotaged wider adoption of the RCM philosophy.

RCM technicians continued to do as much predictive testing and inspections (PT&I) as possible, in order to establish a baseline, and were producing great results.


  • Oil analysis on hydraulic elevators created savings. We no longer annually switched out hydraulic fluid, which saved time and materials, and limited the waste stream from this work. We now conduct this analysis on our generators as well.
  • Airborne ultrasound on steam traps created savings by identifying leaking traps.
  • Hot spots in electrical systems were found and corrected.
  • Leaks in the building envelope were found and isolated.
  • Latent defects in fans installed in the newest museum were identified.

These initial successes using new technologies supported continued pursuit of RCM, despite the challenges.

Time was the biggest challenge to greater implementation. The CMMS upgrade was moving forward with no better inventory, and a lack of analysis to determine the right maintenance needs. SI believes in decisions made by consensus—a sometimes long and laborious process that reduced our ability to meet deadlines.

Asking staff of each zone to determine their critical assets, and what they needed in the CMMS, resulted in 16 different answers. SI became directive. The consultant was hired full-time to perform failure modes and effects analysis (FMEA) of the main equipment types and systems, and to develop templates to use across the Institution. Another contractor was hired to finish the asset inventory.

Twelve thousand assets were loaded, work plans were developed—based on FMEA, manufacturer’s recommendations and other industry-recognized practices—and the upgraded CMMS went live. The initial results of RCM implementation as seen from the CMMS data were dismal. Zone maintenance staff were elated, because they had decided that RCM was a bad idea from the beginning. Tasks were dismissed for unknown reasons, or performed late, and staff seemed barely productive.


Implementation 2.0: The Carrot and the Stick

Staff were counseled on their personal productivity results on a weekly basis. Supervisors were told they were going to be held accountable for performance and conformity to the new program. Staff came forward with concerns:


  • The contractor did a lousy job on the inventory. Critical equipment was missed and the locations are wrong.
  • The CMMS is hard to use. Supervisors now spend way too much time entering information and printing out tasks for staff.
  • The scheduling makes no sense. Everything is due at once, and tickets come out on employees’ off-days.

SI addressed each additional concern to demonstrate its commitment to the continued implementation of RCM. SI also established a unit of CMMS “power users.” This unit operates on a 24-hour basis, acts as active dispatch, and communicates facility issues to the entire Institution. The original two “power users” were joined by 11 more. They work with the IT department on issues with the CMMS, validate data, run reports, contact zones and help correct issues they find, and input work requests. Additionally, this unit hand-walked maintenance staff through accurately capturing their asset inventory and building schedules in order to spread the work logically and appropriately through the year.

An O&M manual and handbook was written. We hired a trusted consultant to facilitate maintenance staff in recording exactly how work gets done. This same consultant, now well versed in SI-maintenance, developed online and written training documents. All maintenance staff were required to take 10 modules of training on RCM, the CMMS and SI-custom maintenance practices, and were tested on these subjects. New staff are trained annually.

A budget was created for Reliability staff    (I think that should be maintenance staff…or possibly just staff). Equipment to perform PT&I was purchased for each zone. In-depth training on the technologies is offered. Many more staff now have certification in these technologies. Hand-held devices were developed for staff to use in the field to better interact with the CMMS and limit desk time. Communication dead zones are addressed as identified. The budget is used for continuous training of all maintenance staff, upkeep and replacement of diagnostic equipment, upkeep and replacement of handheld/communication devices, server upkeep, and for pilot projects related to new technologies.


Results 2.0

There are now 22,000+ assets in the CMMS, and a robust process is in place to keep the inventory accurate. This process includes our in-house staff, and boilerplate language in all contracts requiring the contractor to retire equipment and upload new equipment with every project. Work is completed and reported accurately. There is greater use of the CMMS by far more staff. Escalations are down, and productivity is up. SI has addressed and largely overcome a computer literacy issue.

In addition, training has allowed more staff to gain skills, and advance to positions of greater responsibility and pay. Increased training and technical skills have also improved our participation in review of projects in design for O&M issues, improved our participation in commissioning activities. And, last but not least, improved skills and training have enhanced our reputation and credibility with our planning, engineering, design and construction colleagues, as well as with firms doing work for us.

Data from the CMMS validates maintenance requirements. When work is cancelled, it is due to a lack of resources, and that lack is quantifiable. Demands are far greater in buildings with a backlog of deferred maintenance and delayed capital renewal projects. Use of the new tools and technologies has anticipated and forestalled many potential emergency issues.

The data allows us to better develop annual maintenance plans, and we benefit from an unprecedented availability of systems and buildings. Recommissioning work using the technologies includes extensive point-to-point surveys and recommendations to return the systems to design operation. This has resulted in significant improvements in our ability to keep environmental conditions within the tight operating bands prescribed for the protection of artifacts.

SI still does not perform PT&I on all equipment in all plants, and we don’t always have replacement parts on the shelf, or redundancy in the systems, to preclude the need for spares. We think we have identified the most critical assets, and perform appropriate PT&I on these assets.

PT&I is not performed by every maintenance employee in our ranks. All maintenance staff have some training on RCM. They are able to take advanced training in the technologies in use at SI, and have access to basic PT&I tools in their facilities. The technicians originally trained in RCM are no longer resented; instead, they are highly respected. Their inspection reports and findings are used, acted on and called upon to support many other decision-making documents, presentations and plans.

SI has not fully realized the benefits of motor circuit evaluation (MCE) or vibration analysis as predictive tools. They are currently tools we use for troubleshooting. MCE diagnostic tools are incredibly expensive and not practical as mobile devices. SI ran into safety issues employing vibration analysis, because readings must be taken while equipment is operating. We are piloting a now-affordable wireless vibration sensor system that may allow us to finally establish trends on our equipment.

The change to an RCM-based maintenance philosophy has been 15 years in the making. It has been a success in many ways. Fundamental to that success has been our alignment of purpose, implementation of technological advances, increased professionalism in all that we do, standardization of services, adoption of industry best practices and measurement of effectiveness.

SI’s system and facility-wide availability is unprecedented. We are entrusted with protecting our nation’s collection and world-class science, and the required tight environmental band is met more than 85% of the time, in spite of a robust deferred maintenance backlog. We operate 24 hours a day, and are open to the public 364 days a year. The long, hard work required to get RCM off the ground and producing results has built a strong, competent team—and frankly, that alone has been worth the effort.     


Kendra Gastright is Director, Office of Facilities Management and Reliability at the Smithsonian Institution, and can be reached at


Slide 1 in PowerPoint Presentation

Caption: Exponential growth in footprint, and a critical mass of buildings needing renovation, led to massive underfunding.


Slide 2 in PowerPoint Presentation

Caption: Snapshot of the conditions of our facilities, which we use to document our deferred maintenance backlog, current replacement value, and facility condition index. 


Photos 1 and 2

Caption: Technicians performing work with two of our technologies. 


Benchmarking Update

By Keith McClanahan


Benchmarking for 2016 is off to a great start in several ways. We are experiencing a high level of interest in the new survey for smaller institutions, which is designed specifically for institutions with less than 50,000 gross square feet or 5,000 gross square meters. Yes, we know that doesn't convert exactly from one unit of measure to another, but it is a lot easier to say and remember.


Smaller Institutions Benchmarking Survey

The new survey has only 14 questions, covering the key performance indicators. Initial feedback on the time needed to complete it, and ease of use, have been very positive. The Steering Committee developed the survey for cultural institutions, based on the observation that institutions with less than 50,000 SF/5,000 SM have fewer staff, who are all very busy. If we . . . had too many questions . . . that took too much time . . . there would be minimal interest.

Early reports are that it takes a couple of hours or less to complete. It is also reassuring to hear that all the data we are requesting is readily available. Here, for example, is all that is required for the maintenance submittal. Other sections include space, janitorial, security, and utilities.



Figure 1: Small Institutions—IAMFA 2016 Benchmarking Survey—Facility Issues.


New IAMFA Benchmarking Participants

We have been reaching out to potential new participants about IAMFA's benchmarking program for two reasons.


1. We believe the IAMFA benchmarking program is a valuable tool that can help improve operations.

2. More data in the benchmarking program increases its value to all participants.


As this article is being written in late February, I am pleased to report that we have added new participants from the United States (3), Australia (1), and the UK (1). We usually add most of our new participants in the March-April time period, so it is hard to tell how much the survey will be growing this year, but it is off to a great start.


Meeting with New York City Cultural Institutions


Participants in the benchmarking program have asked if we could increase the participation from cultural institutions in New York City (NYC). We are working on that!

Mark DeMairo of the Neue Galerie will be hosting a luncheon meeting for NYC institutions in late March to discuss IAMFA and benchmarking. I'll be talking about the benchmarking program for both large and small institutions from the perspective of Facility Managers and Security Managers. The Smithsonian with Maurice Evans is also providing support. We look forward to meeting them, and having a good dialogue that identifies the issues involved in operating a cultural institution in NYC.


AIC Meeting in Montreal

It has been interesting to see how the IAMFA benchmarking data has been utilized in various ways. We analyzed some of the benchmarking data on temperature/humidity setpoints and deadbands, in preparation for the AIC (American Institute for Conservation of Historic Artistic Works) conference in Montreal this May.


When we looked at the average temperature setpoint of all benchmarking participants for winter vs. summer, there was a very slight difference of only about 2˚F. Relative humidity setpoints were a little further apart from summer (49.7%) vs. winter (43.8%), but still not much of a change. Clearly there is opportunity for some dialogue regarding some relaxation of these setpoints as energy costs continue to climb. In some institutions, the temperature and humidity of the entire space is controlled at collection-level standards. However, it is clear that, for benchmarking participants, a large portion of the space does not contain any collections. Here is a real opportunity to reduce energy costs.


Image Page

Figure 2: IAMFA 2015 Caption:   Benchmarking Report—Facility Issues


The Benchmarking Survey is endorsed by IAMFA, and registration for the 2016 survey is open. To register, please go to: or email


Keith McClanahan is the Principal at Facility Issues Inc., and is the coordinator of IAMFA’s Annual Benchmarking Exercise. Keith can be reached at


Critical Renovations at the Milwaukee Art Museum

By James Shields



The campus of the Milwaukee Art Museum (MAM), located on the picturesque shoreline of Lake Michigan in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, has been built in three phases over the past 50+ years. In 1957, the War Memorial Center, an abstract glass-and-concrete icon floating on concrete piers designed by Finnish architect Eero Saarinen, was completed to house veterans’ memorials and events, offices and gallery space.

In 1975, a concrete addition in the Brutalist style by American architect David Kahler provided significant gallery and storage space. The 2001 Quadracci Pavilion designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, however—with its glass-walled exhibition hall overlooking the lake, topped by a louvered sunscreen that opens and closes like the wings of a giant bird—put MAM on the international map for architecture and art aficionados alike.

Still, MAM’s collection of architecturally significant buildings had equally significant challenges—both mechanically and structurally, and with regard to space programming and visitor accessibility. In 2015—after a long pre-design process in association with MAM staff, and a forensic analysis of the structures that uncovered a host of challenges—HGA Architects and Engineers (HGA) and MAM completed a design. They then embarked upon a renovation that resolved all of the museum’s issues, while also unifying the campus into a cohesive, world-class museum complex.


Image: Page 15
Flanked by the Calatrava addition from 2001 (at left), the 1975 Kahler wing (lower right) and the 1957 Saarinen original (middle right), the 2015 addition by HGA directly faces Lake Michigan (at center). Photo: Dustin DuPree



Here are the five most crucial issues MAM and HGA faced, and how they resolved them.


1. The need for a second changing-exhibitions gallery

     Challenge: The MAM campus covers a total of two city blocks, with the Calatrava building a block away from the Kahler and Saarinen buildings. People would enter the Calatrava building from a parking lot several blocks away, visit its atrium and changing-exhibitions gallery, then leave the campus. MAM asked for a new, second changing-exhibitions gallery that would draw visitors into the Kahler and Saarinen buildings’ permanent galleries—and keep them there.


     Solution: HGA designed a new two-story, 16,000-square-foot, glass-and-steel addition on the east side of the Kahler building that includes a new changing-exhibitions gallery as well as additional functions that enhance the visitor experience.


     To aesthetically connect the addition with the existing 1970s Kahler building, HGA matched the Kahler’s 21-sided cast-concrete columns (which resemble classic fluted columns) using Douglas Fir barrel-stave formwork that allows the wood grain to show through in the finished concrete. Above the glass-walled first level, which angles slightly toward the lake, the dark stainless-steel exterior cladding on the cantilevered second level harmonizes with the color of the Kahler building’s concrete, and reflects the lake’s moods by changing color throughout the day. The Douglas Fir floors throughout the second level addition were clear-finished to match the light blond wood in the renovated galleries. The floors of the first level addition are polished concrete.


 Image: Page 15

Caption: Darkened stainless-steel cladding on the addition reflects the changing light over Lake Michigan. Photo: Tom Bamberger


Patrons can now park in an existing 200-car parking lot on the north side of the building and directly enter the addition’s glass-walled lobby and vestibule. These face east onto the waterfront walkway, with views to the campus’ Calatrava building. Glass-walled sculpture galleries are on the north and south sides; the new 2,000-square-foot changing-exhibitions gallery is on the second level. Off the lobby there are restrooms (HGA added restrooms on every floor), a lounge, a café, lockers and a box office. Also on the first floor, 1,800 square feet of gallery space seamlessly connect the old and new structures.


Image: Page 16

Caption: The new changing-exhibitions gallery is located on the second floor of the addition, drawing visitors deep into the permanent collection to reach the new gallery. Photo: Tom Bamberger


2. New Lakeside Entry

     Challenge: According to museum guards, visitors on the lake walkway frequently knocked on the windows of the Kahler building asking to be admitted to the museum. Even the Calatrava Wing, which overlooks the lake, doesn’t include an entrance to the museum. In addition, MAM wanted its Kahler and Saarinen buildings to look more toward, rather than away from Lake Michigan, to create greater connections between the city’s natural and cultural amenities.


     Solution: HGA’s new addition is built right up to the lakefront. It includes a pedestrian staircase leading to a lakeside entrance to the lobby, as well as the parking lot on the north side, which leads visitors to the same lobby. The building’s all-glass first level allows visual transparency between the addition and the lakefront. The lounge areas and a café on the first floor, as well as a small-plate and wine bar on the second level, allow visitors to enjoy the museum experience and lake views at the same time.


Image: Page 16

Caption: A lounge and sculpture gallery in the new addition features a Claes Oldenburg sculpture, and expansive views overlooking Lake Michigan. Photo: Dustin DuPree


     The linear addition also cantilevers out to “float” above and engage with the lakefront. HGA’s careful integration of architecture and structural engineering resulted in the dynamic cantilevered configuration of wide flange steel members in section. Deep-set apertures cut into the upper level provide visitors with framed vistas of the lake, city bluffs and the Calatrava.


     The addition also wraps around the sides of the 1970s Kahler wing, with two new staircases leading to that building’s renovated rooftop terrace at the level of the downtown bluff top. Pedestrians can walk directly onto the roof from the city, view the lake below, then take the stairs down to the lakefront walk.


Image: Page 16

Caption: The new MAM addition appears to float above the lakefront landscape, allowing visitors direct access to a transparent entry lobby and café. Photo: Tom Bamberger


3. Need for Permanent Exhibition Space

     Challenge: The 2001 Calatrava addition did not include galleries for the permanent collection. In addition, over time, galleries in the Saarinen and Kahler buildings had been scavenged for restrooms, administrative offices, classrooms and art storage. Meanwhile, donations to the permanent collection continued, with no space for storage or exhibition. In addition, the existing galleries were dark and dingy, and the floor plan was a maze.


     Solution: HGA analyzed plan and use of space in the Saarinen and Kahler buildings. They returned spaces with tall ceilings to galleries, and renovated spaces with lower ceilings into classrooms. An apartment created for a donor adjacent to her collection was gutted—with her heirs’ permission and funding—to provide an additional 2,000 square feet of gallery space for the donor’s collection. On the mezzanine level, HGA relocated extensive art storage areas to the lower level, where all art storage was enlarged and consolidated, transforming the mezzanine into galleries for Haitian, Outsider, and Folk Art.


Image: Page 17

Caption: Part of the gallery above was created by removing an apartment, created in 1975, that had allowed an important donor to frequently visit her vast, donated collection. Photo: Dustin DuPree


     Existing galleries for the permanent collection were completely renovated: white ceilings replaced an open grid with exposed mechanical systems and grey-painted ductwork. New gallery partitions were built. Existing dark-orange-stained Douglas Fir floors were sanded and clear-finished to a similar bright, blond finish as in the renovated galleries. New lighting and LED handrails brighten the main museum stairs; the dark, existing elevator core was lit with new LED coves; and new track lighting in the galleries properly highlights works of art. HGA’s space-plan analysis also resulted in easy, continuous flow between the galleries, and clear wayfinding.


Image: Page 17

Caption: An existing gallery in the 1975 wing has been completely renovated, with a new white ceiling, new exhibition walls, new lighting, new mechanical, and patched and refinished wood floors. Photo: Dustin DuPree


4. Updates to Mechanical Systems

     Challenge: A critical component of HGA’s master plan for MAM was a mechanical engineering audit. Conducted by HGA engineers, the study revealed that the entire system was in danger of imminent failure, from air-handling units to diffusers. In some areas, the system had already failed. For instance, HGA’s forensic analysis revealed that thermostats on two floors had been flipped and wired incorrectly. In addition, the Saarinen building, which doesn’t have vapor barriers, had been humidified to 50 percent, leading to window failure and structural issues.


     Solution: New mechanical systems were threaded through the existing buildings, as well as in the new addition. Ductwork was routed below the floors or above covered ceilings to minimize visual intrusions. New white gallery ceilings also incorporated round spot diffusers in areas where most people stand to look at the art; diffusers were placed outside those sightlines. To continue the clean aesthetic, perimeter components were detailed so that the finished floor, the top of the continuous air-supply grille, and the top of the perimeter curtain wall base mullion all align. Walls and ceilings in the Saarinen building were renovated, and windows were replaced. MAM raised money for the fixes, aided by $10 million provided by Milwaukee County, the museum buildings’ owner, with whom HGA coordinated to complete the work.


5. A New Green Roof/Courtyard

     Challenge: A sculpture courtyard sunk into the roof of the Kahler building, and no longer used for exhibitions, had leaked water into the museum galleries, causing significant damage.


     Solution: MAM had attempted to fix the water leaks, to no avail, and instead installed drip pans in the gallery ceilings below to catch the water. A team of HGA architects and engineers analyzed the existing concrete building’s structural capacity, then roofed over the courtyard using a lightweight, heavy-load-capacity steel structure. Below, the courtyard’s concrete floor was ground down and seamlessly integrated the 4,500 square feet of new gallery space into MAM’s new wing for American art. The structure now supports a new green roof, which includes flowering sedum around a plaza that visitors can walk onto from adjacent streets for events and lakefront fireworks displays.


Image: Page 17

Caption:This view of the new American Wing was previously an exterior courtyard, roofed and turned into new gallery space as part of the project. Linear passages called “enfilades” allow visitors clear wayfinding through the vast galleries, with vistas towards distinctive works of art. Photo: Dustin DuPree



With a fourth addition to its campus, and renovations to its Saarinen and Kahler buildings, HGA Architects and Engineers helped the Milwaukee Art Museum dramatically enhance its exhibition and public spaces, while also improving accessibility for visitors, and connection to Milwaukee’s lakefront. The completed, well-integrated campus rejuvenates the Museum and sets a future course for the institution, which now—more than ever—is an international draw and a municipal cultural treasure.


James Shields, FAIA, is a Vice-President and design principal with HGA Architects and Engineers in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.


Survey of the 2015 IAMFA Annual Conference
By the IAMFA Board


IAMFA recently conducted a survey with its members, seeking ways of improving our annual conference. In total, 58 IAMFA members took the survey, and we thank you for taking time to help.

We are including much of the raw data from the survey below, but we have also summarized this data, and added a conclusion regarding what we learned from each question. We have also shown the comments you made during the survey. Thanks again for your participation, and for helping us to make our annual conferences better and better.

Question 1: Did you attend the IAMFA conference in Chicago?

Conclusion: About 2/3 of those taking the survey attended the conference, and in general everyone enjoyed the conference.


64%  Attended

17%  Did not attend

12%  Planned on attending

10% Wanted to attend

0%    Said it did not appeal


Comments included:


  1. “This was my first IAMFA Conference; very impressed with everything. The sessions were very informative and the tours were very helpful. My wife came along—she could not believe how well taken care of she was.”
  2. “As usual, one cannot fault the efforts by the home team to put on an excellent show.”
  3. “Unable to attend due to business commitments.”
  4. “Personal commitments prevented my attendance.”
  5. “Loved it.”
  6. “Unfortunately, I ended up with a medical issue and could not attend—however, sent two other people to the conference.”
  7. “I found it well organized, informative and fun.”
  8. “Attended conference—did not attend benchmarking session.”


Question 2:    If you attended, did you attend as . . .


71%  Delegate

10% Other

7%       Guest

7%       Retired member

2%       Sponsor

2%       Board member



  1. “I would have attended as a retired member.”
  2. “The staff we did send to the conference were delegates.”
  3. “I was a speaker, but I was also a registered as a delegate.”
  4. “Host.”


Question 3: If you did not attend this conference, please state why.

Conclusion: Generally, the only negative was that the timing did not suit all the respondents.


Comments included:

  1. “The exchange with $CDN was not manageable.”
  2. “I had only just joined IAMFA.”
  3. “None of the above; I simply did not attend due to personal commitments.”
  4. “I sent a colleague instead.”
  5. “Central Government restrictions on overseas travel prevented me from getting approval to attend.”
  6. “Did not work in the industry at that time.”
  7. “Paid and planned to attend, but a last minute personal family situation kept me from attending.”
  8. “I did attend the conference, but would still note concerns with some of the topics listed above. For example, timing very difficult for federal agencies on fiscal year ending September 30; federal budget austerity increasing limits travel and professional development opportunities.”
  9. “I have seen most of the venues, but had issues to attend to at home.”


Question 4: If you attended; how well organized was this conference?

Conclusion: Generally, respondents thought this was very well organized, with weighted averages of 4.47-4.8 (5 being the best). The lower scores related to the following items:

                Pre-conference communications





  1. “Registration needed to be able to print missing IDs on the fly, or soon after.”
  2. “My only complaint was that our ability to tour the facilities’ front of house was limited.”
  3. “I attend many conferences, and the IAMFA conference in Chicago was excellent in all aspects.”
  4. “Did not attend.” (Two respondents)
  5. “Pre-event, the location of registration had not been communicated. The hotel knew what room had been allocated; however, I did not.”
  6. “Loved everything about the conference.”

Question 5:    Was there enough time dedicated to education at this conference?

 Conclusion: 89% thought there was enough time dedicated to education at this conference. There were two comments indicating that we need to make sure that the education program does not become too focused on presentations by sponsors and corporate members. We need to make sure that all presentations are educational first and foremost, but also make sure that those who bear much of the cost of the conference also obtain benefits from their participation. This will be on our minds as we plan future conferences.

Comments included:

  1. “Enough time was dedicated, but it was far too supplier-oriented. I am much more interested in learning about the institutions we visit in terms of stats (size, visitor numbers, financing) and developments (energy efficiencies, increases to visitor numbers, master plans, new opportunities) and major capital projects either recently completed, in motion or planned. Ideas that could translate to my institution.”
  2. “Not applicable.”
  3. “My sense, from my own experience as a benchmarking consultant, and from feedback during the conference, is that the educational programs were relevant, and of the right level of technical detail.”
  4. “Touring the venues is important, but I think more time could have been dedicated to educational programs with a bit less time on tours.”
  5. “Did not attend.”
  6. “Not enough time at museums for guests.”
  7. “The availability of downloads from the webpage was a good resource for further reading on areas of interest.”
  8. “Always happy for more.”
  9. “Yes, with a caveat: some of the talks were less ‘education’ and more vendor presentations. Some of these can be valuable, but the educational program may benefit more from a ‘proposal’ system in which institutions and members can propose talks on recent projects or developments. In many cases, it would be better for the speaker to be the facilities staff member from the institution, describing how a project or technology affected their way of doing business, rather than the factory/firm representative giving a normal sales pitch. Many ASHRAE chapters/meetings have a strict non-commercial policy—speakers are expected to provide educational content without a sales pitch or self-promotion. While this might work against some of IAMFA's current sponsorship models (i.e., major sponsors often get some speaking time), it might be worth consideration/discussion on some level.”

10. “Adequate time was dedicated; might have preferred a more diverse mix of topics on building tours. Seemed heavy and repetitive on physical plant engineering topics. Hoping next question asks what other topics would be of interest.”


Question 6: In my opinion, benchmarking . . .

Conclusion: These sub-questions have received a wide range of responses, and tend to show that the level of detail in the benchmarking exercise is suitable, covers the correct topics in the right level of detail, and is an essential component in the FM strategy.

Comments included:

  1. “Have not taken part in the benchmarking.”
  2. “The cut-off for small and large museums leaves mid-sized institutions out of the picture.”
  3. “I haven't taken part in a good few years—wouldn't be appropriate to share.”
  4. “Did not attend most recent session. Responses are based on prior years’ experiences. Do not feel annual attendance is necessary, so long as someone from the agency participates to maintain continuity of data.”
  5. “We are just submitting to the benchmarking study for the first time right now.”
  6. “Did not attend the benchmarking workshop.”
  7. “As a retired member, I no longer undertake benchmarking for obvious reasons.”

Willing to share how they use benchmarking within their establishments are:

  1. Kevin Rellis Head of Estates The Natural History Museum
  2. Joyce Koker Harley-Davidson Museum 414/217-6388
  3. Anthony (Tony) Young 412.578.2495
  4. Douglas Hall Deputy Director, Office of Protection Services Smithsonian Institution I would also like to consider some form of official partnership with the National Conference on Cultural Property Protection (hosted by our office) as a forum for security related benchmarking
  6. “I think there are always struggles with intention, and there is some room for interpretation that makes some feel as though the comparisons cannot be apples to apples. I think the survey is continually evolving and improving. I would love it if more of us gave suggestions for new areas to survey. I am now seeing an impromptu survey on relationships with conservators; safety metrics were discussed as a possible new area. Pests were brought up in Chicago—let's shape the survey and make it as useful as possible. What questions would you ask? Share them! Kendra Gastright SI 202.633.2571
  7. C. Patrick Jefferson Chef, Opérations et Maintenance Musée canadien de l’histoire et Musée canadien de la guerre Head, Operations and Maintenance Canadian Museum of History and Canadian War Museum 100, rue Laurier Street, Gatineau, QC, K1A 0M8 Tél.: 819 776-7037 Fax: 819 776-8344 Cell: 613-866-5544

Question 7: Was the content of the conference with regard to the delegates, schedule, best practices, improving my knowledge, new ideas, meet new contacts favorable or not?

Conclusion: This question received an extremely favorable response, with no “poor” or “poor-average” ratings, and a weighted average of between 4.21 and 4.58 out of 5.


Comments included:

  1. “Please see previous comments focusing on learning more about the institutions we visit, what they are about, what works well and less well, what developments they are pursuing. I would be happy to give more thought to this if required.”
  2. “A delegates-only meet-and-greet session would be nice at the beginning of the conference.”
  3. “Did not attend.” (Two respondents)
  4. “Not sure I know what the best practice open forum was—do you mean at the benchmarking session?”


Question 8: Please provide feedback on the presentations at this conference.

Conclusion: Generally all presentations were considered excellent, with ratings ranging from 3.18 to 4.46 out of a possible 5.0. The Board is considering how we can best call for presentations in the future, and to make sure the percentage of sponsor presentations does not become too high.

Comments included:

  1. “All of these sessions were my favourites.”
  2. “None of the presentations were low quality; some may have been a little more commercial than expected.”
  3. “More real-life experience like the Jack Plumb and David Samec discussions are very helpful, along with the project discussions. Less theory and more actual project experiences.”
  4. “In general, I found that there was a disproportionate number of presentations provided by sponsors/service providers rather than museum staff/owners. I would swing the pendulum a bit the other way if possible.”
  5. “Did not attend.” (Two respondents)
  6. “I know that getting quality presentations can be tricky. I'm sure we would get a ton if we did an advance call-out for them. I also know we get slightly strong-armed by the partners and vendors with whom we have solid relationships. I think Camfil did the best job in making me feel like they weren't selling me their filters. I think that unless the vendor can do a presentation that is completely not about their services, then they must tie to a project from an IAMFA member present at the meeting, so that we can ask questions and get honest feedback on the case study being presented. Merely stating that you do work with an IAMFA member should not be enough to grant a presentation about a vendor's products and services. I also marginally graded a few internal presentations, because I am not sure we have evolved enough to request the presentation in advance and give feedback, or get all presentations in advance and select the best. We really need to move towards a call for presentations ahead of our meetings.”
  7. “Some additional time for questions post-presentation would be useful, as would a few ‘plants’ to ask a few leading questions of the presenters.”
  8. “It is hard to remember all the details from the presentations—although, I don't remember experiencing any of them that were unacceptable.”
  9. “N/A = don't remember.”

10. “I couldn't stay for the whole conference, and missed a few sessions. All that I attended were extremely informative.”


Question 9: Please rate the site visits.

Conclusion: Generally excellent, but not enough time was available for the guests at the Peggy Notebaert Museum, and for all who attended the extra day of tours at the Milwaukee Public Museum.

Comments included:

  1.      “I did not go to all of these, but my wife went to the ones I did not. Her favorite was the Shedd. Mine were the Science and Industry Museum and the Chicago History Museum.”
  2.      “It is hard to spend the right amount of time at each place with a large group. I was generally fine with it all, being an agreeable sort in general. Often conferences are just introductions to places, not in-depth visits.”
  3.      “All facilities were gorgeous, but could probably reduce the number of tours of mechanical spaces, or make it an option to other concurrent tours.”
  4.      “Did not attend.” (Two respondents)
  5.      “All we did was eat at the Notebaert Museum and the Milwaukee Public Museum. Late breakfast and early lunch on last day was tough to digest.”
  6.      “I think there needs to be a way for more freedom of choice on the behind-the-scenes tours. Really, they were all informative, but I'm pretty fit and I was exhausted being shuttled so quickly between tours. I'd rather have a slightly longer but more leisurely pace through a tour. Make me pick my favorite tour or topic. I'd also like a bit more freedom for just looking around in the sites. I understand that, because some of the behind-the-scenes tours are in secure areas, we needed to keep the group together at times, but space between the tours so you could opt out and be left in a public place would have been a nice option. Longer, fewer, an option for just a self-guided walkabout, and a bit more à la carte would be my suggestion.”
  7.      “The only reason that these venues are marked as good and not great is that there was not enough time to adequately see each one.”
  8.      “I would have preferred fewer site visits, with visits that went into greater depth on what was being achieved and why. Having the three visits in one afternoon (Field, Adler and Shedd) was extremely rushed, and I would have preferred a three-way split, with delegates being able to discuss the different sites in the evenings. A purely visitor-type experience such as Harley Davidson could have been a good break if scheduled for an alternate day. The Milwaukee Art Museum took us into the bowels of the building and went into detail on some of the complex issues of this wonderful building.”
  9.      “Milwaukee Public Museum—didn't have any time at this institution.”

10. “N/A = didn't go or don't remember.”

11. “Again, I couldn't attend the entire conference and missed some of the site visits, but was extremely impressed with the ones that I did attend.”

12. “The bus trip was too long on Thursday. More than one serving line was needed at the Milwaukee Public Museum. We did not have enough time remaining to visit the galleries. The Guest Start/Finish schedule (shorter days) each day was Excellent.”

Question 10:    What do you consider to be important for future IAMFA conference locations?

Conclusion: This had a wide range of responses, with the most important considerations being: interesting facilities, unusual facilities, challenges and issues, and cost. Of lesser importance was consideration to transportation links and hotel accommodation.



  1.      “Given that we are a Canadian institution, the exchange rate will make a difference as to whether we can attend or not.”
  2.      “I love the conferences. I wouldn't change much, just some tweaking. They are so much better for me than huge conferences with expo halls and millions of education tracks. The beauty of IAMFA is building your professional network, and that is why keeping it small and keeping us together for the entire thing is vital. I know IAMFA members—at any other conference I have attended, remembering a single person I met or networked with is a challenge. We do this well and hope we keep up with it.”
  3.      “The Chicago Hosts did an amazing job organizing the conference!”

Thanks again to everyone who helped by taking this survey. The Board takes your responses very seriously, and we hope to continue making the IAMFA Annual Conference a great experience for all. 


[Conference Schedule]


A Facilities Engineer Goes to Heaven

By Jack Plumb


This is a story about the plight of an FM engineer who unfortunately dies and makes his way to heaven.

Upon his arrival in heaven, he is met by St. Peter, who has responsibility for ensuring that only those who have lived a decent and giving life can enter the kingdom of heaven.

The first question St. Peter asks is, “So what did you do on earth, my son, that you think qualifies you to enter through the pearly gates?”

The FM engineer explains that he has worked tirelessly all his life to improve his environment, to help save the plant by only implementing the most sustainable solutions to the myriad problems with which he had to deal.

St. Peter does not look impressed, and replies, “So you admit to being an engineer? All the engineers I know drink too much, go with many partners, use offensive language, and are generally not the type of person we want in heaven. I am afraid you cannot come in, so down you go to the other place.”

A couple of months later, St. Peter is in the bar enjoying a well-earned pint when Lucifer comes in and joins him.

Lucifer orders a pint and says to St. Peter, “I am glad I caught you here. Let me buy you a pint as a thank you for sending that FM engineer down. What a stroke of luck that was. Do you know that he has fixed our heating problems by installing a thermostat in every room. Not only that, but he’s connecting them all up to a thing called a BNS—or was it a BMS?—anyway, some fancy computer thing which allows him to control all the heating throughout our place.

“He has also developed a Carbon Management Plan which he reckons will reduce our bluehouse—or was it greenhouse?—emissions by 80% by 2050. He tells us this is something we have to do to save Planet Earth. You might want to think about that, as I believe that is where all your saints come from.

“Even more importantly, he has personally fixed a couple of vital items of equipment: the beer cooler and the coffee machine. Goodness, how did we ever live without them?”

St. Peter ponders this long, long list of achievements, and thinks he might have been a bit hasty in denying the FM engineer entry to heaven—although the stories from the nuns about the last engineer to enter heaven did tend to weigh on his mind at the time.

In any event, heaven was a really cold place, and could do with a new heating installation. In addition, the whole thing about the Carbon Management Plan had been worrying him for a long time now. St. Peter had lost count of the number storms he had watched, and the devastation that had followed—and still mankind did not seem able to take any action to reduce global warming. It was not just the lack of future saints that was worrying St. Peter; it was the very future of Planet Earth.

St. Peter looks Lucifer in the eye and says, “Alright, I admit I was a bit too quick to send the FM engineer down to you. You had better send him back up to heaven.”

Lucifer splutters into his pint and says, “You must be joking! I have just given the FM engineer a massive pay rise and set him up with his own FM team. He’s got his team working marvels with the cleaning, with security—not to mention implementing a planned maintenance programme, which will double the life of our plant. Not only that, but we can start to see a reduction in our heating costs which will soon be less than yours. So, sorry—the FM engineer stays with us.”

St. Peter also splutters into his beer and stammers, “Look here, I said send him up to heaven, and you had better send him up fast or I will . . . I will . . .”

“I will what?” asks Lucifer.

“I will take you to court, and they will order you to send him up to heaven.”

“Oh yeah?” asks Lucifer. “And where are you going to get a lawyer?”

Apologies in advance to all you lady FM engineers who I know are doing just as good a job as any male FM engineers, but this is an old story told by an even older FM engineer.


Jack Plumb is Head of Estates at the National Library of Scotland, and serves as Editor on the IAMFA Board of Directors.   


Achieving Competing Goals: Cold Storage and Energy Efficiency

By Michele Pacifico, Rebecca Ellis, Jeremy Linden, Sarah Sutton and Shengyin Xu


The most important preservation consideration for any archival collection is providing the best possible storage conditions. All archival materials are subject to deterioration over time, due to factors such as heat, humidity, harmful particulates and fumes, and handling frequency.   

This is especially true for film-based and magnetic media, which are fragile and subject to chemical, biological, and physical damage. These special collections require specific preservation environments, depending on their material composition and physical condition. In general, we know that certain conditions accelerate the deterioration of film-based and magnetic materials. Threats include high temperatures, particulate and gaseous pollutants, and relative humidity that is either too high, too low, or fluctuates beyond a material’s ability to harmlessly accommodate the changes.

There are currently a variety of storage-preservation standards and guidelines for film and magnetic media. Some of these standards speak to mixed collections, while others specify different storage conditions for each type of material. Guidance has been provided by the following organizations: the British Standards Institution (BSI), the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), the Audio Engineering Society (AES), International Standards Organization (ISO), the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), and the Society of American Archivists (SAA). Ongoing research into the effects of environment on these fragile materials continually leads to new information and revised recommendations.

The standards for the preservation of film-based and magnetic media present a range of options for specific storage temperatures and relative humidity. Cool storage can range from 50°F (10°C) to 65°F (18°C). Cold storage ranges from 35°F (1.6°C) to 45°F (7°C). Freezing storage is 32°F (0°C) and below. In general, the standards agree that cooler temperatures are good for almost all archival materials, as they reduce the rate of chemical decay. For film, lower temperatures and drier conditions slow the rate of degradation. In particular, for materials such as color film and prints, the rate of chemical deterioration is so rapid at regular room temperature that cold storage is required to achieve a reasonable lifetime. Other mediums that might benefit from cold storage are at risk of physical damage when they are too cold or frozen. Materials such as glass plates, CDs and DVDs do better in cool storage. Cool storage is also recommended as being beneficial when cold storage is not available. Even if only achieved during seasonal setbacks, periods of cooler temperatures will extend the life of archival materials.

Similarly, there are differences among the preservation guidelines for particulate and gaseous filtration. All agree that “simple” dust is not good for film and magnetic media.    Acetic acid is especially detrimental to acetate-base photographic film.

These standards are incredibly useful, but they do not provide all the guidance needed when making preservation decisions. There are many challenges in deciding how to store film-based and magnetic media, including the critical issues of costs, operations, types and mix of collections, equipment, and energy efficiency.   

Standards for film preservation do not necessarily take into account the design and location of building and storage rooms, their materials and finishes, their mechanical and lighting systems, the local climate, and how the materials are used and handled. As James Reilly of the Image Permanence Institute notes: ”Environmental specifications in the form of targets and ranges are often adopted without a deeper analysis of their wisdom in the form of a process to broker trade-offs that affect cost, preservation quality, sustainability, and operating simplicity.“

As institutions become more aware of the costs and energy implications involved in archival preservation, they are reevaluating their collections storage and looking at creating more sustainable environments. The three primary areas in which institutions can achieve energy efficiency are: the building architecture, the lighting system, and the environmental control systems.

Sustainable solutions for environmental control of archival storage areas may include improving the efficiency of mechanical systems; broadening the +/- range for temperature and relative humidity; allowing seasonal changes to temperature or RH setpoints; allowing “regular” storage (i.e., not cool or cold—for paper-based records) to become cool storage during winter months; shutting down HVAC systems overnight, or on weekends, or on a climate-based schedule; and reduction of outside air and/or use of economizers. This is just a sampling of potential solutions, and not all may be feasible in an occupied building, or with the building’s existing architecture, systems and operations.

A grant-funded study undertaken by the Minnesota Historical Society (MNHS) reviewed the current research and standards, and applied preservation metrics to develop options for its cool and cold storage. In a multi-level exercise, the interdisciplinary team examined Minnesota’s costs, operation, and collections while considering its building design, equipment, and local climate to find an individualized solution for energy savings without placing the preservation of its collection in jeopardy.


Cold Storage at the Minnesota Historical Society

The Minnesota Historical Society stores the majority of its collections within its largest museum property, the History Center, in St. Paul. The History Center is over 480,000 ft² (44,600 m²) and also includes 45,000ft² (4,180 m²) of exhibit space, multiple classrooms, offices, a library, café, and retail space. Among the collections stored in the History Center, there are two million negatives for newspaper photographs; 73,000 reels of newspaper microfilm; 500,000 photographs; 1,245 catalogued moving-image pieces; 3,000,000 ft (91400 m) of news film from the KSTP Collection, a local television station; and an oral history collection with over 500 separate audio projects, 40 video projects, and more than 2,000 hours of catalogued interviews. These collections are stored within a series of rooms totaling 10,000 square feet.     

Currently, the rooms are set at 62°F (16.7°C) (+/- 2°F [1.2°C]) and 36% relative humidity (+/- 3%). Both of these parameters fall within some recommended guidelines; however, cooler and dryer conditions are preferred, especially with certain materials, such as acetate- and nitrate-based film stock. In addition, these cold-storage spaces use a disproportionate amount of energy, and are challenging to maintain. While only representing 2% of the overall building square footage, the cold-storage space represents over 7% of annual energy consumption. At the same time, despite the amount of energy they consume, the temperature and relative humidity setpoints for the space are not adequate for long-term preservation.   

The challenges MNHS faces in relation to its cold-storage rooms reflect the broader challenges of selecting and maintaining cold-storage spaces. Its current setpoint is within a range considered to be “cool” storage; however, colder and dryer conditions would help to slow degradation. Firstly, the use of a single general environmental protocol often does not provide the best conditions for every material.[1]

In reality, different materials require different storage conditions, some of which are beyond comfortable ranges. For example, the International Standards Organization (ISO) recommends 36°F (2.2°C) and 20-30% relative humidity for nitrate-based photographic film,[2] which is well outside of the rule-of-thumb setpoint. Even with similar media, such as other photographic film, you will find a range of materials. Depending on the film support, polyester and acetate require different conditions, and even color and black-and-white film have recommended ranges from 14°F (-10°C) to 70°F (21°C) and 20% to 50% relative humidity.[3]

These strict guidelines for climate control of the storage and exhibition areas for collections also present an ongoing operations challenge. From 2008 to 2010, energy rates rose by 7% at most of the organization’s sites. In particular, rates at the History Center increased 13% between 2005 and 2010.     

This complex building and its associated systems account for 70% of the energy impact for the entire institution. Strategies to reduce energy consumption would thus yield significant benefits to the entire statewide organization. Reducing consumption can drastically cut the costs involved in maintaining these culturally significant collections. Further, reducing dependency on limited fuel sources, such as coal or other fossil fuel-based energy, will help the organization maintain its goals for the institution over the long term, while not compromising the care that these collections need, given current financial hardships across cultural institutions.     


Illustration/Caption: Figure 1: Existing “cool” cold-storage rooms at the Minnesota History Center.   

After being awarded two National Endowment for the Humanities Sustaining Cultural Heritage grants, MNHS has been able to bring together an interdisciplinary team of national experts, consultants, and staff to study, plan, and implement an energy-efficient cold storage system. By looking at balanced metrics of capital costs, operating costs, and preservation index, the team was able to assess many strategies for increasing preservation conditions and decreasing energy consumption.   

While initial conversations focused on ideal setpoints, including exploring ranges from 30°F (-1.1°C) to 50°F (10°C) and 30– 50% relative humidity, the team also discussed energy-savings strategies. Options such as increased insulation, adjustable-speed motor drives, and reclaimed heat were explored in conjunction with the possibility of increasing cooling and dehumidification capacity.     

Ultimately, the best results, from a preservation and energy standpoint, came from a combination of a two-zone cold storage area and a series of energy-efficiency tactics. Once implemented, the preservation index for one zone would be improved 2–4 times over current conditions, and over 9 times for a subset of film materials. In addition, with the reconfigured system, energy reductions of $16,000–20,000 a year could be achieved.   

From a qualitative standpoint, the improvements also mitigate risk, and reduce maintenance time and costs. For example, the insulation improves heat transfer from a neighboring mechanical space, and the same insulation also helps maintain conditions if the power goes out, or if there is a service interruption in the mechanical system.

Also proposed was a relocation and reconfiguration of ductwork, which would result in smaller gas phase filters. These filters are important to indoor air quality of sensitive collections storage spaces; however, they are also expensive to replace. With smaller filter sizes, there is less cost associated with the replacements. These maintenance cost savings are also part of the value added by the project.   


Illustration/Caption Page 31: Figure 2: Cold-storage zone options.

Illustration/Caption Page 31: Figure 3: Energy-savings strategies.

Illustration/Caption Page 31: Figure 4: Bundles of the highest Preservation Index.

Illustration/Caption Page 31: Figure 5 Highest energy savings and Preservation Index combinations.


System Details

When endeavoring to create a preservation-friendly storage environment, six fundamental elements need to be considered for the heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) system. Some elements are non-factors for specific facilities, depending on their local year-round climate conditions. However, each institution needs to ask the following fundamental questions when defining the scope of the HVAC system required for their storage facilities.

Heating: Does the outdoor temperature drop below the target indoor storage temperature for extended periods each year? If so, the next question is whether or not the storage space is exposed to outdoor conditions. If the storage space is located in an internal space with no exterior walls or windows, the answer to this question will be “no,” and heating will not be a concern in this instance.

Cooling: If the outdoor temperature rises above the target indoor storage temperature for extended periods of time, cooling will be required to maintain desired indoor environmental conditions. If a storage facility is located inside an occupied building, cooling will be required year-round because adjacent spaces will typically be kept at warmer temperatures than storage areas.

Humidification: If the outdoor dewpoint temperature (a common measure of the moisture content of air) is below the target indoor storage dewpoint for extended periods of time, the storage facility will need to include a humidification system to maintain steady indoor relative humidity during dry weather.

Dehumidification: If the outdoor dewpoint temperature is higher than the target indoor storage facility dewpoint for extended periods of time, the storage facility will need to include a dehumidification system to maintain steady indoor relative humidity under humid weather conditions.

Ventilation: Storage facilities should be provided with a minimum amount of outdoor air, partly for air quality control, i.e., fume and off-gas removal. However, ventilation is primarily to help maintain positive air pressure in the storage facility to combat infiltration of unconditioned air from the overall building envelope into the storage area.

Filtration: All air passing through a storage facility—including air recirculated from within the building, and air from outdoors—should be filtered. Particulate filters are always needed for removal of dust, pollen, and other airborne particulates. Gaseous filtration may also be necessary, depending on the outdoor ambient air quality.

The existing cold storage HVAC system at the Minnesota History Center consists of a single air-handling system (AHU-1E-5) located in the adjacent boiler room.


Illustration/Caption Page 32:Figure 6: Existing Minnesota History Center air-handler floor plan.


The schematic of the existing system (Figure 7) details the components of the air-handling system. The system mixes a small amount of outside air with return air from the storage spaces, and filters that air through both particulate and gaseous filtration media. The gas-phase filters are required due to the high traffic/urban environment surrounding the Minnesota History Center.


Illustration/Caption Page 32:  Figure 7: Existing HVAC schematic showing a cold-storage system that is limited to 60⁰F (15.5C°) and 40% RH.


The filtered air then passes over chilled water-cooling coils, and is distributed to three different temperature-control zones. Each zone has a thermostat that controls a hot-water-reheat coil in its respective supply air duct to achieve exact space temperature setpoints in each space.

When dehumidification is required due to the high humidity of spring, summer and fall in Minnesota, a low-temperature cooling coil is used to remove moisture from the air (sub-cooling the air) before distributing it to the reheat zones for temperature control. During the dry Minnesota winters, individual zone humidifiers inject steam into the supply air ducts to achieve exact relative humidity setpoints in each space. The best storage conditions this existing system can achieve are about 60⁰F (15.5°C) and 40% RH.

Although numerous different types of HVAC equipment and configurations were considered by the evaluation team for improving the storage environment, the most practical approach was determined to be modifications/additions to the existing air-handling equipment, rather than wholesale replacement of the system. The benefits of this approach included reduced costs and reduced operational disruptions to the occupied storage spaces.

Three different options for HVAC system upgrades were evaluated in detail, each with different environmental control capabilities, as defined below.

Option 1: COOL: 50⁰F (10°C)/50% RH/32⁰F dewpoint

Option 2: COLD: 40⁰F (4.5°C)/40% RH/19⁰F dewpoint

Option 3: FREEZER:[4] 30⁰F (-1.1°C)/30% RH/5⁰F dewpoint

All of the options included the addition of a desiccant dehumidification system to lower dewpoint temperatures in the spaces as required to simultaneously achieve target relative humidity and low space temperatures. The new system would be roughly as depicted in Figure 8.


Image/Caption:Figure 8: Proposed new HVAC schematic diagram, including new dehumidification system that will allow cooler and dryer temperatures and offer energy-savings opportunities.


Integrated Process                                                                              

A critical aspect of the NEH Sustaining Cultural Heritage Collections program is the project’s sustainability after the grant—operationally, financially, environmentally, and professionally. To ensure this, the MNHS project design included an integrated team for the planning process. The integrated design approach is familiar to those in green building practices, but is not yet the norm for most projects.

Museum professionals and consulting engineers excel at project management. We are trained to identify the problems, then apply best practices to create a high-quality solution that will ensure collections safety with high-caliber mechanical systems.

We have done this for decades, using strict T/RH standards and designing solutions with a highly professional but very specific focus. Sometimes that intense focus leads to trouble. It can, in the words of USGBC, “fail to recognize that buildings are part of larger, complex systems. As a result, solving one problem may create other problems elsewhere in the system.” [5] 

MNHS was committed to improving the efficiency of its energy system and improving collections care, but not if the result would introduce new and unanticipated problems in operations, collections care, or building operations. MNHS accordingly created an internal team that included staff with collections responsibilities, including access, care and management; building engineers and facilities managers; two project staff; the manager of capital projects and sustainability; and the grant writer.

It also included consultants with expertise in architecture, contracting, mechanical engineering, archives and film management, and environmental sustainability in museums. The goal was to cultivate a variety of perspectives addressing collections conservation, use, and practice, as well as institutional capacity and planning, building and engineering feasibility, and future needs and conditions.

The value of such a team lies not only in the involvement of multiple perspectives, but also a shift from a project focus to a system focus. Project-based thinking involves the people tasked with delivery; systems-based thinking involves the people and activities affected by a problem and/or its solution, and their continued interaction with the new system. We looked at the project as part of the whole building, and its function as part of institutional operations.

The entire team met for a full day on site, prepared summary comments, reviewed draft recommendations, then later reconvened in person or via Google Hangouts for a wrap-up meeting. For the primary design meeting, we had been prepped with drawings and data. During the onsite session, we had a chance to tour the system and the storage areas, followed by a group discussion to explore needs and solutions.

As the team evaluated scenarios in real time, we could review and decide to table some options, in order to focus on those that were seen to have the most potential. When there was a decision to make, but no shared or overlapping expertise, some staff or consultants would take responsibility for a decision, while others agreed to relinquish or share that responsibility. For example, while the consulting engineers clearly understood the cause-and-effect of various conditions on the rate and type of artifact decay, as modeled by the IPI program, they preferred to allow MNHS staff to make any decisions based on that data.

The financial costs for such a large team exercise at the beginning of a project are substantial, and the grant was critical in enabling this team approach. At the same time, those costs are much lower than the costs involved in replacing a poorly designed system. The time devoted to meetings is not much greater, in total, than what would be required in a conventional approach; instead it is concentrated at the beginning during thoughtful, relaxed planning, rather as part of later crisis management.

With such wide-ranging perspectives, all team members needed explanations for unfamiliar concepts. The time spent in these discussions, however, increased shared understanding and very likely filled information gaps or corrected subconscious assumptions that otherwise would have gone unnoticed or unaddressed. Having a grant writer on the team certainly shortened proposal preparation, and improved the accuracy of the narrative.

As a bonus, we solved some other problems. For example, when the team identified opportunities related to the project but not integral to it—such as preventing the cooling coil from freezing and thus requiring early replacement—it was decided to assign the problem to team members or other staff for completion outside this project. The work would still be accomplished, and with current input and buy-in, just not during this planning activity.

The integrated design process provided a clear path forward in accomplishing project goals, with full investment from the full spectrum of concerned departments and professionals. Inclusive discussion with staff and consultants having expertise in collections and preservation, facilities operations, sustainability, and organizational administration meant that all necessary knowledge for decision-making was in the room, shared in real time. The team could address all concerns from the outset, rather than discovering them in response to a finalized plan and restarting the planning process—or, worse, moving ahead with a flawed plan.       


Optional image/Caption:Figure 9: Full team kick-off meeting. The integrated design team included over 20 staff, consultants, and expert panelists from a range of fields.



The team-based approach that the Minnesota Historical Society used to plan for the energy-efficient preservation of audiovisual media provided a new model for accomplishing multidisciplinary project goals. The inclusive discussion allowed each of the concerned institutional departments, administrative players, and outside consultants to be fully and simultaneously invested in the process of achieving quality preservation and sustainable operations.   

Each group and participant had ample opportunity to present specific knowledge of media, environment, building, and mechanical operations. This allowed us to begin planning with a common base of knowledge base to use in developing the project design. This resulted in a much more efficient approach than would have resulted from bringing some or all of these partners in only at the comment and review stage of the design submission process.   

Similarly, by drawing upon the broad experience of their own staff as well as that of the external consultants, the MNHS team was able to capitalize on knowledge of current collections and operational tendencies, while also leveraging some of the newest research in the fields of preservation and sustainable building and mechanical operations.   

Rather than simply designing to a traditional “standard”—whether a preservation or a mechanical design standard—the MNHS process and design took those standards into account while applying knowledge and requirements unique to their own collection and building. The result was a design plan that has the potential to optimize A/V storage for MNHS, providing the materials with the best possible preservation conditions at the lowest possible energy cost, while using operations and strategies that are sustainable over the long term.

The sometimes-adversarial relationship between low-cost, energy-efficient operation and quality preservation conditions has, in the past, created situations in design planning where teams felt that they had to sacrifice one goal in order to achieve another. By focusing on a cost- and preservation-benefit analysis of various design options, the MNHS team was able to make tangible, data-driven decisions that were agreed upon by the entire multidisciplinary team.   

The discussion of various options took into account how designs compared to current standards, but the final decisions relied heavily on the realities and the lessons learned from the practical experiences of the entire group, which included collections and facilities managers, as well as experts in mechanical design, sustainability, preservation environments, and archives and film preservation.

It is that team-based approach—and the goal of finding an optimal solution for each individual institution, rather than molding design to match a rigid external standard—that has the greatest value to our field. The process that MNHS used can be replicated by institutions of any shape or size for a variety of projects that may involve both facilities and collections interests.   

A process like this can potentially achieve two project goals simultaneously: appropriate preservation conditions, as well as an efficient, sustainable mechanical design with the potential for optimized operation. In addition, this type of cooperative approach encourages and fosters future communication and work between institutional departments. As our institutions are faced with ever-greater demands on shrinking resources, this joint effort is perhaps our single most important and sustainable strategy for the future.   


Michele F. Pacifico, an archivist for 35 years, has specialized in archival facilities since 1987. She is co-editor and contributing author of the 2009 Society of American Archivists (SAA) Standard: Archival and Special Collections Facilities: Guidelines for Archivists, Librarians, Architects and Engineers, and is currently coordinating a joint US-Canadian standard for archives facilities. She also is a working member of the International Council of Archivists (ICA) Expert Group on Archive Buildings and Environments and is preparing an international bibliography on the subject. 

Rebecca Ellis, PE has over 30 years of experience engineering and managing a variety of HVAC system projects. She holds mechanical engineering degrees from the University of Minnesota and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is a licensed professional engineer in 13 states. Ms. Ellis is a specialist in the design, analysis, and commissioning of intricate temperature and humidity control systems. Her favorite buildings are museums, libraries, and archival storage facilities.

Jeremy Linden is the Senior Preservation Environment Specialist at the Image Permanence Institute in Rochester, NY, where he works closely with colleagues in cultural institutions on issues of material preservation, mechanical system performance, energy-savings, and sustainability as a researcher, educator, and consultant.

Sarah Sutton is a sustainability consultant working nationally with museums, zoos, aquariums, gardens and sites to reduce environmental impact. She is the co-author, as Sarah Brophy, of The Green Museum. 

Shengyin Xu is the Sustainability Manager at World Resources Institute. Prior to this, she was Sustainability and Capital Projects Manager for the Minnesota Historical Society. She co-chairs the American Alliance of Museums sustainability committee, PIC-Green. Her work in environmental sustainability has focused on collaborative and data-driven decision processes.   


[1] National Museums’ Directors Conference, UK. Guiding Principles.

[2] Adelstein, P.Z. IPI Media Storage Quick Reference, 2nd edition. Image Permanence Institute, Rochester, NY, 2009.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Option 3 is a hybrid solution including a self-contained walk-in freezer surrounded by storage areas maintained at 50⁰f (10°c) and 50% RH.


The Summertime Blues

By Patrick B. Jones and Michael Murphy


In a 1958 hit song, singer Eddie Cochran observed that “There ain’t no cure for the summertime blues.” The facility management team at The Art Institute of Chicago (AIC) begs to differ. During the summer of 2015, AIC worked cooperatively with Able Engineering, Johnson Controls and McGuire Engineers to successfully reduce the organization’s peak electricity demand. The effort will contribute to over $175,000 in savings between May 2016 and June 2017.

The highest peak electricity demand AIC ever recorded was just over 7 megawatts. In the winter of 2014–2015, the museum was astonished to learn that it would be charged to reserve 7.9 megawatts in capacity and 7.1 megawatts in transmission during the ensuing program year. AIC realized that, by actively managing their demand, it could avoid substantial costs in future.

In the United States, the electricity and natural gas power industries are regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which is under the Department of Energy. FERC oversees Regional Transmission Organizations (RTOs), which manage the nation’s electrical grid across large, multi-state areas. Each RTO is responsible for seeing that enough electricity and power transmission infrastructure is programmed to serve all customers in its region.

In order to determine the amount of power an RTO needs to reserve, they record each customer’s actualelectricity demand in kilowatts, during the five peak hours of the preceding summer, when the RTO itself was experiencing its greatest activity. These five occurrences are then averaged to determine each customer’s peak load contribution. The resulting charge is called the Capacity Peak Load Contribution (PLC) charge, and represents a fixed cost which a customer must pay each month, beginning in June the next year, through the following May.

Another PLC charge each customer must pay is the Transmission PLC charge. This charge is based on the one peak hour when the local utility was experiencing its greatest activity, and is used to determine how much transmission capacity must be reserved for the customer. The resulting charge is called the Transmission PLC charge, and represents a fixed cost which a customer must pay each month, also starting in June of the following year.

When the demand used to calculate a customer’s Transmission PLC charge is in excess of the demand used to calculate that same customer’s Capacity PLC charge, the customer is classified as a “weather-sensitive customer.” The RTO levies a total weather-sensitive demand penalty against the local utility. The local utility, in turn, passes this penalty on to each customer, based on the customer’s contribution to this penalty. Additional adjustments, such as a Zonal Scaling Factor and weather adjustments, are also applied.

As a result of these modifications, the demand used to calculate AIC’s Capacity PLC charge was adjusted from 6,354.88 kW up to 7,987.15 kW. AIC’s Capacity PLC charge during the 2015–2016 program year would be approximately $40,000 per month. The demand used to calculate AIC’s Transmission PLC charge was adjusted from 6,928.90 kW up to 7,123.14 kW. AIC’s Transmission PLC charge during the 2015 program year would thus be approximately $18,000 per month.

The challenge in reducing the AIC’s peak electricity demand was implementing energy conservation measures (ECMs) that would not affect gallery environmental conditions (temperature and relative humidity). As such, any HVAC ECMs had to be carefully monitored. “We were excited to be a part of the AIC’s energy conservation team,” said David Brooks of McGuire Engineers, “and for the opportunity to implement energy-reduction measures. After a few planning sessions, the measures were implemented and with diligent monitoring the challenge was met.”

The museum’s operating engineers, Able Engineering, were the key to achieving an effective ECM program. “Our goal has always been to maintain constant temperature and humidity throughout the museum,” said Tom Ryan, Chief Engineer for Able. “Museum Facilities leadership approached us with the issue of demand management. Able Engineering staff knows the museum’s HVAC equipment better than anyone. We were able to use that knowledge to achieve AIC’s demand goals, while maintaining exacting temperature and humidity standards in the galleries.” Able Engineers also played a crucial role in monitoring the gallery environmental conditions throughout the energy-curtailment process.

The energy-curtailment plan featured a HVAC load-shedding program, in which air-handling units serving non-gallery spaces allowed for the space temperature setpoint to be increased to 78˚F during peak design cooling days. Also, in all non-loan-agreement galleries, the dehumidification setpoint was increased from 55% to 60% during peak design cooling days.

Additional HVAC control strategies were implemented including a discharge air-temperature optimization scheme; an offset between the humidification setpoint and dehumidification setpoint to prevent simultaneous operation of humidification and dehumidification; and a demand-control ventilation scheme. Able Engineering identified the opportunities, which were agreed to by all parties, including: Harold Hacker, Vice-President of Engineering for Able; David Thurm, Chief Operating Officer of AIC; and Bill Caddick, Associate Vice-President of Museum Facilities for AIC. Ed Feil of Johnson Controls then programmed the ECM into Metasys, AIC’s building automation system. Ed’s program is affectionately known as “the big button” by staff.

In addition to the HVAC energy-conservation measures, a lighting control strategy was also implemented. The lighting-control energy-conservation measures included: dimming all non-essential lighting, turning off lighting in all areas naturally lit areas, and ensuring that the cleaning schedule lighting mode was overridden during peak design cooling days.

AIC enrolled in a program offered by MidAmerican Energy, their retail energy supplier (RES), which notifies customers when the RES trading desk determines that the RTO may experience a peak planning day in the very near future. AIC additionally partnered with a local company, Stonewater Controls, to install real-time monitoring on the museum’s electricity and natural gas meters. AIC set alarms on each meter to notify operators when any meter in the group got within 90% of the maximum peak recorded during the previous 12 months. These notifications act as an early-warning system, which enables AIC to employ its ECMs to lower peak demand during these times. Due to its participation in the RES-sponsored program, AIC was able to strategically shed load during four out of five of the RTO peaks during the summer of 2015.

When the new PLC calculations were made at the end of the summer, AIC knew they had a winner on their hands. The average demand used to calculate AIC’s Capacity PLC, with all multipliers applied, was down to 6,760 kW—a difference of 1,227 kW compared to the previous year. This difference will contribute to approximately $175,000 in savings during the program year. AIC’s Transmission PLC was down to 6,549 kW—a difference of 574 kW compared to the previous year. This difference represents approximately $15,000 in savings during the program year.

It is important to note that the summer of 2015 was hotter than the preceding summer (731 cooling degree days in 2015, as opposed to 601 in 2014). During the hotter summer, AIC substantially reduced its demand. The Able Engineering team played an instrumental role in achieving this sustainable energy efficiency initiative.


Michael J. Murphy, LEED AP is Project Manager with McGuire Engineers ( in Chicago, Illinois, USA, and can be reached at Patrick B. Jones is Manager, Department of Museum Facilities at The Art Institute of Chicago, and can be reached at


Image Page 36

Photo Caption: The energy management team at The Art Institute of Chicago (left to right): Patrick B. Jones, Manager, AIC; William Caddick, Associate Vice-President, AIC; Tom Ryan, Chief Engineer, Able Services; Harold Hacker, Vice-President Engineering, Able Services.

Help Foster an Emerging Relationship

By Kendra Gastright


It’s not possible in this day and age for facility managers in cultural institutions to not be connected with the conservators protecting the objects in the buildings we serve. We may agree, however, that the relationship has not always been perfect. Given stagnant and sometimes shrinking budgets, and mandates for sustainable cuts in energy use, our need to partner and cooperate for the greater good has never been more important.


Additionally, think back over the past few years and recall the emergencies your team has deftly handled: the storm that blew a tree through the curtain wall, the steam outage, the flood from a failed chilled-water valve, a fire in the construction area, a failure in the lighting control system that left the lights on all night for a week.

While I’m sure your response and recovery was phenomenal, did you notice your conservators looking quite pale while reading their data-loggers and biting their nails to the quick? Perhaps you went to them, offering a strong shoulder, and explained that you had anticipated the emergency and hermetically sealed all their objects at the required temperature and humidity in a light-, water-, and fire-proof vault. Just in case you didn’t do that, I offer the next best thing for a team-building moment: a road trip to Montreal, Canada!

IAMFA has been invited to co-host a workshop with the American Institute for Conservation (AIC) on the opening day of their annual meeting in Montreal next year.


Share the Care: Collaborative Preservation Approaches


A Joint AIC/IAMFA Seminar

2016 American Institute for Conservation (AIC), Canadian Association for Conservation/Association Canadienne pour la Conservation et la Restauration (CAC-ACCR) Annual Meeting

May 13, 2016—9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

May 14, 2016—10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.—Special Post-Session on:

Choosing and Implementing an Automatic Fire-Suppression System for a Collecting Institution

Palais des Congrès, Montreal, Canada

Join AIC, CAC, IAMFA, and allied collections professionals to focus on our shared risk and responsibility at a specialized and interactive seminar held before the start of the 2016 AIC/CAC/ACCR meeting.

  • Learn how to further preservation priorities collaboratively within your museum or institution.
  • Explore how facilities managers, conservators, collections managers and other related professionals interact, as well as how that relationship can be improved.
  • Check your institution’s emergency plan—one size doesn’t fit all.
  • Review the Current State of International Environmental Guidelines—Review of the ISO 1799 draft, EU standard, PAS 198, ICOM, Bizot perspective, etc. A discussion will follow on work with constituent groups and the best path forward.
  • Discover if shared risk and responsibility can live together under one roof in a Historic House museum.

Register today at the low rate of $115 for AIC or CAC/ACCR members—$135 for all others.  Rates will increase on March 1, 2016.

AIC/IAMFA Meeting attendees have access to the AIC/CAC-ACCR room block at the Hyatt Regency Montreal.

For more information, please visit:

As more information becomes available, it will be sent to IAMFA members and posted on LinkedIn. Come for just the workshop, stay for the special post-session, or even consider staying on to attend the rest of the AIC annual meeting. This year's theme is: Emergency! Preparing for Disasters and Confronting the Unexpected in Conservation. There are definitely many topics germane to facility management, including emergency, collections care, architecture and sustainability.   


Kendra Gastright is Director, Office of Facilities Management and Reliability at the Smithsonian Institution, and can be reached at


Inside the Box

By Jay Yelen


In a former life, years ago, I was a facility manager for a high-end retail clothing store. Its name is synonymous with excellent customer service in a luxurious environment. I was part of the opening team when the downtown Chicago store opened. The team was built of sales department and support managers, as well as the store manager himself. We numbered about 35 people in total.

In the weeks before the store opened we worked across the street at a hotel, recruiting our sales and support crew. We would visit the construction site in the final days before the building was released to the company. They all stood pie-eyed at the colors and features of the empty space. Even though the design utilized state-of-the-art concepts, the mechanics of it stayed traditional to the company’s corporate guidelines. For example: HVAC remote access was still dial-up, and the store’s intranet was a speedy cable connection. The corporate office had used the same mechanical designs they felt were successful all over the country. It was like they wanted to ignore the fact that environmental conditions vary significantly across the continent.

It took seven years of planning with the company and the city to work out a location for the store. Once that was approved, many designs were submitted and rejected before the city could settle on what they wanted from that Seattle-based company. I recall reading articles in the paper about the project a year before I started working for them. Three years of construction resulting in a 275,000 ft² (25,550m²) four-floor building that filled a Chicago city block. And they gave it to me to control. If you can, picture me rubbing my hands together much like Montgomery Burns of the TV show The Simpsons— “Excellent . . .”

Out of the gate, there were environmental issues. Some of them were minor adjustments in the system, and others were a little more substantial. The corporate end had put some governing on my environmental control system and this would need some tweaking. Since the company was based out of the Pacific Northwest, I don’t think they were aware of the severity of climate swing in the Midwest. They underestimated the temperature in the summer affecting the first floor, since there was underground parking. They expected small electric heaters to be sufficient mounted on the ceiling of our exterior loading dock in the winter. Yes, they had plenty of stores already built out here, but as I collected histories of those stores, they all seemed to fall short when it came to working outside the design parameters.

The first summer, for our big anniversary sale, my store manager barked at me from across the sales floor to make the entire building cooler. I read the current conditions outside our box: It was 98°F (37°C) with 89% relative humidity. I could not get my air-handlers to drop any more cool air without closing my minimum air dampers completely. I called my corporate office and was told that the system was working outside the design parameters. I don’t think I have to tell you what my next steps were.

I think we have all been there. Many of us have inherited existing systems in our museums that are in various stages of decay. We try to keep what we have running to the best of its ability, to help meet the financial constraints of the institution, but most times we wind up being the bad guys with the news of catastrophic failure. We are viewed as one would view the hooded man wielding an axe at the chopping block. No one wants to hear our solution, because that would be an expensive investment. The money we can save in energy-efficient equipment is only after we make that initial purchase. We seldom bring good news to the table.

The Chicago History Museum is actually the result of three significant construction projects, as well as a dozen renovations. The original building was built in 1931, with the main entrance facing east toward Lincoln Park. In the early seventies, we added another structure, doubling the Museum’s size and reversing the main entrance to Clark Street. Again in 1986, we added additional structures behind and in front, utilizing our footprint to its full extent.

This is how the Museum stands today. Sadly, when this work was performed, funds were limited to only adding environmental systems to the new spaces, without completely overhauling and configuring one central control. The result was having three freestanding systems that are highly interlaced within one facility. (When I say “interlaced,” think of a tangled spider web.)

All of these systems were designed before we had stringent regulations for artifact storage and display conditions, or the means to accurately measure them. The system we currently have in place struggles to reach these goals, and often falls short. Some of our older collection spaces do not even monitor relative humidity. I was originally loaned an old sling-cyclometer to measure humidity around the building, as our Collections team felt it was the only true way to measure conditions.

Fast-forward to today, and we have many different and affordable ways to monitor live conditions around the building, instead of walking into the room spinning a wet-ball pendulum once a week. We have digital readers placed in our galleries and storage areas.

Working with the Image Permanence Institute (IPI), we have downloaded our data into their eClimate Notebook. The data collected has been eye-opening, to say the least. Most notable is that you can clearly see when our HVAC system is suffering— trying to meet conditions when the weather is extremely outside the box.

All our gallery graphs tend to mimic the outside conditions. Our temperatures may stay somewhat stable, but our RH emulates outside conditions that are falling far outside set parameters. This tends to happen in the extreme cold winter and hot summer months. One would think an easy answer would be to close outside dampers during this period, but that is not legal in the City of Chicago, which has a minimum outside damper requirement of a whopping 33%!

I discussed this code infraction with a City HVAC inspector, and he mumbled something to me about this being designed to make the individual owner responsible for any airborne infections/viruses that might if the dampers were not open at least 33%. Frankly, my three systems are not large enough in capacity to allow that kind of outside air in without suffering from major swings in environmental conditions. In other words, what is happening outside the box would be happening inside as well.

A few months ago, the CHM reached out to IPI to do a study of our building. We worked with Patricia Ford and Jeremy Linden for a simple three-day study of two affected galleries, in order to understand where the biggest fires needed to be put out. The results were satisfying enough that we decided to further invest in an 18-month study with the company.

A father figure once told me it should not be embarrassing to ask for help, as long as you take the time to determine that you actually need it. I would like to think this was the case, as I knew our combined environmental systems have issues; however, which to address first would be the biggest challenge. It may not be one answer that helps us, but a collection of prioritized solutions that further stabilize conditions in this museum.

This is where I find myself in the middle of it all. I work directly with our Collections Team for the preservation of artifacts, as well as the Visitor Services Group to maintain a comfortable experience for the patrons. I work with the Corporate Events Office as well as the staff to provide a good rental space and office environment respectively. I report to the Chief Financial Officer of the Museum to reconcile my budget. Yes . . . right in the middle of the fun. Yippee.

Part of me wants to condemn the previous management, but I understand that many of their requests were value-engineered out of the projects. Since the big projects were probably part of capital campaigns, I would concede that a benefactor probably would rather donate to a new building wing, than a new cooling tower. It’s kind of like the tree falling in the forest question. Would you bolt a donor plaque on something if no one would see it? I can imagine early expansion projects included everything, and as the project continued go over-budget, cuts needed to be made. I assume everyone suffered a little. Today, however, we find ourselves with aging equipment that no longer meets the requirements we are trying to get out of it. I’ll step down from my soapbox now.

At the IAMFA conference this past September, I walked with most of you through the mechanical rooms of the Art Institute, as well as those of the Shedd Aquarium and the Field Museum. It was fantastic to see the progress and the equipment that was in place to effectively control their environments. Some of the large-scale equipment made me dream of a smaller-scale version for our own museum. I expected to see secrets behind those mechanical-room doors, but there really weren’t any. Their systems worked—and, I might add, most efficiently. Hopefully, ours will be just like theirs soon.

I hope that this will be the first part of ongoing article with which you can follow along. By the next issue of Papyrus, I will have some data, and I will report what we find from our work with the Image Permanence Institute. I am certain that there are some small museums out there that are going through the same situations, in which indoor environmental conditions tend to follow outside-the-box conditions. I hope that by doing this, and by publishing my findings, I may be able to save some money for other museums by us conducting the experiments here.

Wish us luck. I think we are really going to need it.


Jay Yelen is Director of Properties at the Chicago History Museum, and was a host of the 2015 IAMFA Annual Conference. Jay can be reached at

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Caption:This is the green chiller we use during our summer months. The base tube cylinders are made by the Chrysler Motor Company, and date back to 1969. The top of it has been retrofitted with a York Centrifugal from 1995. The white box with red insulated pipes protruding from it is our plate-and-frame system for "free cooling" when the temperature outside is between 20˚F and 40˚F.  Our multistack chiller has ten stages of cooling capacity, and is used in milder weather.


Moving Mountains: Snowzilla vs. the Smithsonian

By Stephanie Lieberman


The Smithsonian’s Office of Facilities Management and Reliability (OFMR) is no stranger to managing massive weather events. From snowstorms to earthquakes, OFMR has often been called upon to respond quickly and creatively to weather-induced chaos.

However, Blizzard 2016—affectionately called “Snowzilla” by our team—proved to be one of the most challenging weather emergencies OFMR has ever faced. Snowzilla tested all of the skills, equipment, and methods deployed by the team over the past five years on other storms.

Over two feet of snow was forecast to fall for three days over some of the most highly visited Smithsonian facilities on the National Mall, and at other nearby Smithsonian locations. Although actual snowfall totals varied due to drifts and changing weather patterns, the volume of snow and the duration of the storm were intense. Off-Mall Smithsonian locations such as the National Zoo, as well as non-public facilities, experienced enormous snow accumulations as well.

More astonishing than the storm’s volume was the collaboration and dedication of the OFMR Smithsonian snow teams, who made certain that the museums remained safe and could re-open to the public and staff as soon as required. To accomplish this, facility leaders and their teams had to not only focus on moving mountains of snow, but also had to maintain high safety standards and obtain the vital equipment and resources necessary to combat Snowzilla. Even more impressively, facility leaders made sure that critical routine facility maintenance was not overlooked during the blizzard.


Snowzilla vs. the Smithsonian

Moving over two feet of snow is challenging under normal conditions. At the Smithsonian, it is particularly disruptive as it is the Institution’s goal to be open to the public 364 days a year—closing only on December 25.

Blizzard 2016 presented two distinct characteristics that made it an ominous opponent to OFMR: intensity and frequency. Unlike past blizzards where snow accumulates over time and at a slow duration, East Mall Zone Manager Ryan Doyle stated that Blizzard 2016 was like, “getting winter all at once.” East Mall Zone is comprised of the National Museum of the American Indian, the National Air and Space Museum on the Mall and in Virginia, as well as several off-Mall locations.

From Friday, January 22 through Sunday, January 24, 2016, crews at Smithsonian facilities worked in shifts 24/7 to attempt to keep up with the storm’s massive output. Final snowfall totals at Reagan National Airport in Washington, DC were recorded at about 18” and the National Zoo recorded approximately 22”. Snowdrifts created by high winds yielded even higher snow totals in some areas, including the National Zoo in Upper Northwest D.C., and the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) in Virginia.

Public access to the museums was limited on Monday and Tuesday, which was three and four days after the start of the storm. In total, Smithsonian facilities were closed for three days. By Wednesday, it was expected that OFMR would have the museums ready to open on time, and to have completely clear points of access for visitors and staff.


Leading with Impact

Due to the Smithsonian’s vast campus, the OFMR team is comprised of eight geographical zones. Zone Managers from North Mall, East Mall, and the Upper Northwest were interviewed for this article, and all reported that this was their most successful snow response ever.

This outcome was due to creative, inspiring leadership and a dedicated workforce. North, East, and Upper Northwest Zones all reported that, instead of requiring staff identified as essential emergency employees to work the storm, they recruited their snow teams on an all-volunteer basis. This allowed staff flexibility to do what was best for them in extreme weather conditions, and created snow teams that were committed to getting the job done.

North Mall Zone includes the National Museum of Natural History. Zone Manager of North Mall, Daren Kennedy, thought his team took on Snowzilla with gusto, and that they saw each passing hour as a challenge they had to beat. “It seems silly, but we kind of viewed it as a competition: Us vs. Snowzilla,” Kennedy said when asked how his team stayed motivated to keep working with enthusiasm throughout the long, hard days. Kennedy would challenge his staff by giving them estimates as to how long it would take them to clear an area. The outcome, according to Kennedy, was that “My staff beat my estimates almost always—they were determined, and competed with the storm.”           

Upon reflection, Kennedy went on to say that, “This storm taught me we have the right people in the right positions. When we hire laborers for interior work vs. outdoor work, it is always apparent during weather events like this that the team members who work outdoors truly like being outdoors, and vice-versa.”

Over 30 labor staff volunteered to stay throughout the storm at the National Museum of Natural History, as did building engineers who were focusing on routine maintenance. Building Manager for North Mall Zone, Steve Nelson, made sure he overnighted at the Museum throughout the duration of the storm, in order to make sure facilities staff and customers were constantly updated. The presence of senior leaders at all times showed snow teams that they were truly a team, and demonstrated that they considered this work the highest priority for the Smithsonian.

One of the particular challenges North Mall Zone faced were the grand steps leading to the National Museum of Natural History from the Mall Entrance. Kennedy noted that, “Keeping up with the storm on those steps took endurance and determination. Once you cleared the top, you had to then clear the next level, and finally ground level. The stairs are beautiful, but massive. Each time you cleared a level, you had a snow wall that doubled in footage. By the time you got to the bottom of the stairs, you had a 12-foot snow wall that had to be disposed of.”

Despite this particular challenge, Kennedy said that his team’s performance “wowed” him, and he was happy to shovel with his staff to keep motivation high, and to show support. Kennedy’s team is looking into equipment or methods that will make clearing the iconic stairs of the Museum more efficient in the future. “The proof is in happy customers,” says Kennedy. One of his proudest moments during the storm was when he heard visitors who were playing in the snow saying, “Let’s stay over on this side near the Natural History Museum, because the sidewalks are so much better here!”

East Mall Zone facilities include the National Museum of the American Indian, the National Air and Space Museum on the Mall and in Virginia, and several other smaller facilities. Zone Manager Ryan Doyle also made sure he was visible, available, and active during the storm at all times. To make sure he could commute each day he rented a hotel room near the National Mall.

Doyle was most affected by a major demonstration scheduled on the Friday the storm began. “Many people wanted access to the buildings for warmth, restroom access, or just to visit—but we were closed,” he said. Doyle went on to explain that, “Visitors to the National Mall don’t consider snow in their vacation plans. Part of our mission is to make sure we are available for them to come see the museums as soon as it is safe to do so.”

In addition to traditional facilities, the Upper Northwest Zone has to contend with living collections (animals) and student residents in dorms. Upper Northwest Zone facilities include the National Zoo in D.C. and the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) in Virginia. Zone Manager Enos Scragg said that this was his first snow event as a Zone Manager at the Smithsonian.

What made this snow team’s efforts so distinctive was that 35 people were responsible for clearing seven miles of trails, five parking lots, two and a half miles of road, and five gates. Assisted by OFMR’s Transportation Division, the Upper Northwest Zone team was able to keep pace with Snowzilla and make sure the National Zoo could support and protect the animals.

Student residents at the dorms at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Virginia also had to be considered in Upper Northwest Zone’s plans. Scragg highlighted the diverse needs of his customers by explaining that, “In the past at SCBI, we have just had to create access for animals and their keepers. Now SCBI also is a residence for students in dorms studying the environment. Residential egress must be considered.”

Scragg expressed his pride in his snow team and building managers, noting that, “In the past six years we have suffered two 100-year snowstorms at the Smithsonian! I was here in a different role for “Snowmageddon” a few years ago, but Snowzilla seemed more intense.” He was amazed at his 35-plus person snow team’s commitment and performance. He also chose to ask his staff to volunteer, rather than requiring that employees designated essential emergency staff work the storm.

Upper Northwest Zone also reported zero injuries during Blizzard 2016. Scragg attributes this result to safety and personal protective equipment (PPE) being utilized (such as snow cleats), safety briefings before each four hour shift, and making sure staff were fed and hydrated.


Safety and Accommodations

Each Zone made sure to hold regular safety briefings, and had processes in place such as strict shift schedules that would build safety into the work. A unique safety method employed by East Mall Zone was the buddy system. The buddy system required two snow-team members to be together at all times. Occasionally, Doyle said he would, “have a short snow ball fight with crews” to make sure that, even in the toughest conditions, work was fun and people were paying attention.

Senior facilities leadership also made extra efforts to declare the event an emergency early enough, so that food and beverages could be acquired for staff. Not only did the presence of food play a significant role in boosting morale and confidence in the organization from snow teams, but it also kept them safe. With such intense work, and very little access to resources throughout the storm, it was imperative that staff had access to nourishment.

It was literally “night(s) at the museum around here!” said Kennedy. With the city paralyzed and the Metro shutting down completely for the first time in its history, staff had to make the museums their home-away-from-home throughout the storm. Cots and air mattresses were provided, but ultimately there were not enough to make everyone comfortable. Fortunately, at some of the museums showers were available in locker rooms.

Accommodating staff as residents of the facilities for this length of time was a new experience for OFMR. Some of the lessons learned across the zones were that they needed to think about purchasing additional air mattresses and/or cots for staff, supply boxes for provisions, and equipment that would make the work more effective and easier.

Kennedy is looking into purchasing and testing ergonomic shovels that would decrease the potential for injury, make it easier for staff to lift the snow, and save on the numerous shovels that broke in half during Snowzilla. Riding snowblowers are another item that is going to be researched in an attempt to prepare for future “100-year storms” that seem to be defying nature and occurring more frequently.

OFMR snow teams disposed of countless feet of snow during Blizzard 2016. Over 100 laborers worked over 72 hours to keep up with the storm. It is important to note that pre-planning was noted as the primary factor making this event one of the most successful snow responses in the history of OFMR.

Since the Smithsonian is a federal organization, it had to declare an emergency in order to be able to purchase last-minute supplies, and has to follow stringent rules regarding food purchases. Senior leadership worked hard to advocate for provisions and equipment, and were fully supported by Smithsonian executives.

“It’s a tough call to declare a storm an emergency days in advance, but for our teams, one or two days lead time to make emergency purchases makes the difference,” said Doyle. Kennedy also discussed the advantages of declaring an emergency, saying, “We were able to accommodate staff with meals and hydrate them. They had no way to go anywhere and, even if they could, they were doing exhausting work. Knowing they could look forward to a meal they didn’t have to think about made them feel like they were being protected.”

Each weather emergency presents unique challenges for OFMR. Over the past five years, the facilities management team has had to respond to derechos, tornados, earthquakes, extreme temperature fluctuations, record-breaking rainfall, and of course, snow. While OFMR improves and learns how to manage such unpredictable situations each time, they always file after-action reports to examine the data and look for weak spots. For example, several air mattresses have already been ordered and delivered to be utilized in future weather events.

Discussions about constraints over necessary purchases at the time of need are being analyzed. Doyle says that it is vital for OFMR to communicate to senior leadership that declaring an emergency as soon as the Institution feels that it is applicable is essential to making sure weather responses are a success. Doyle further noted that, “OFMR senior leadership made sure that, in the chaos of the storm, senior officials knew that declaring an emergency was not only going to help the agency make decisions regarding shutdown, but also enable OFMR staff to be able to plan, versus react, for this event.”

It is important to note that this article shares only a few of the many of inspiring stories and insights from OFMR staff regarding their experience during Blizzard 2016. Yes, OFMR “moved mountains” of snow; however, more importantly, they moved their staff to go above and beyond the call of duty under unprecedented conditions.

They also moved mountains to make sure that communications were clear, both horizontally and vertically, in order to get the essential tools and resources they needed. As OFMR Director Kendra Gastright so rightly said, her team "took on Snowzilla and won."


Lessons Learned From Snowzilla


  • Advanced planning for the event is key to success.
  • Safety training and reminders must be interwoven throughout the entire weather event.
  • Safety is not just about slips, trips and falls; safety is also about making sure your team is fed and hydrated during events that may make getting regular nourishment difficult.
  • Facility Management teams must always communicate horizontally and vertically to make sure they can support their staff and get the resources they need to support their customers.
  • Play and fun is a key component to keeping staff motivated during intensive weather work.
  • Senior facilities leaders need to work on the front lines with their teams to fully show support and better understand what is needed to accomplish their work.
  • Volunteer staff take ownership of their role and are more dedicated, engaged and positive than staff who are mandated to work weather events.


Stephanie Lieberman is responsible for facilities communications and technology initiatives at the Smithsonian, including She also coordinates public outreach and education programs such as the FM Career Development Expo and the Smithsonian’s Facility Management internship program. Stephanie can be reached at

Snowzilla versus the Smithsonian Photo Descriptions

Photo title

Photo description

North Mall Zone staff on NMNH front steps

North Mall Zone staff on the front steps of the National Museum of Natural History.

NMNH entrance with steps half cleared

The Mall entrance to the National Museum of Natural History, with the top half of the steps cleared.

Elephant playing in the snow

One of the residents of the Smithsonian National Zoo, frolicking in the snow.

Haupt Garden Gates in snow

The gates of the Enid A. Haupt Garden, leading to the Smithsonian Castle.

South Mall Zone staff on Castle entry steps

South Mall Zone staff on the steps leading into the Smithsonian Castle. The Arts & Industries Building is in the background.



Preserving the Pratt

By Jessica Lavin Reid


One of the city of Baltimore’s most cherished landmarks, the Enoch Pratt Free Library’s flagship building on Cathedral Street opened in 1933. Known as the Central Library, the building also serves as the State Library Resource Center, and houses nearly two million books, pamphlets, and tapes, as well as a vast inventory of periodicals, maps, DVDs, state and federal documents, and other resources. The library’s special collection of rare books and documents includes the Edgar Allan Poe Collection, the H.L. Mencken Collection, an Antiquarian European Map collection that dates back to the 17th century, and a collection of African-American sheet music that dates back to 1835.

The Romanesque Revival-style Library features a majestic central hall, ornate ceilings, large display windows, and many elegant architectural details throughout the 300,000-square-foot building. Long one of the most recognizable and popular buildings in Baltimore’s downtown community, the Central Library building is now clearly showing its age, both in terms of structure and systems, and in its ability to accommodate 21st-century library programming. As a result, the Library has embarked upon a long-planned renovation that will modernize building systems, increase energy efficiency, restore the central hall, and create new and expanded spaces for children and teens.


A Challenging Renovation


Among the most challenging aspects of the renovation is the installation of all-new heating, ventilating, and air conditioning systems, which will improve energy efficiency while creating a more comfortable environment for visitors. The existing heating and cooling system dates back to 1956, with periodic upgrades that have resulted in inconsistent temperatures throughout the building. The facility also lacks the types of sustainable technologies that are common today, such as occupancy sensors, LED lighting, and a building automation system.

“This is a very unusual structure,” says Darren Anderson, PE, CPD, LEED AP BD+C, an associate with Mueller Associates, the firm providing the mechanical/electrical engineering. “We’re trying to fit modern HVAC equipment into limited spaces with minimal impact to the historical structure. It’s been a puzzle to explore design aspects, such as where large ductwork could be routed, where new floor openings should go, how to incorporate fire-protection sprinklers into ornate ceilings, and how to accommodate new system equipment. We’ve also been working with very limited existing building drawings. It has required close coordination by the entire design team, working with a detailed 3D REVIT model created by using a point cloud laser scan of the existing building.”

Anderson notes that an additional challenge has involved staging the project’s construction so that the Library can remain open throughout construction. “Our first phase will include installing a new custom air-handling unit on the roof to maintain HVAC to occupied areas while other equipment spaces are renovated,” he says. Construction is anticipated to begin later this year, and to be completed by 2018.

Anderson points out that the Library’s facility managers will see many advantages following the renovation, which is aimed at LEED® Silver certification. “It will be a much more reliable building,” he says. “This is important, not only for the comfort of patrons, but to protect the Library’s special collections. This is the State Library Resource Center, so it is vital to meet climate-control requirements to protect these documents, manuscripts, maps, and other resources.

“The building will also be much more energy efficient and easier to maintain,” Anderson continues. “There will be a new building automation system (BAS) tailored to the Library’s needs. There are new energy-recovery ventilators, and a condensate energy-recovery system. Another benefit will be the removal of obsolete equipment from the building. For example, there are chillers and cooling towers that were taken out of service many years ago, when the Library was connected to the city’s chilled water system. But it was impossible to remove that equipment before this major renovation to the building. The renovation enables us to clear out abandoned equipment and make room for the new, energy-efficient components.”


Preparing for the Future


While the modernization of the Central Library will not add square footage, the design will optimize existing space and create expanded training and conference facilities, a new Teen and Young Adult wing, an expanded and restored children’s department, a Job/Career Center, and new “Creative Stations.” The project is being designed by the team of Beyer Blinder Belle/Ayers Saint Gross Architects with Mueller Associates, the same team that designed the Library’s annex in 2003. The annex now houses some of the library’s oldest and rarest materials, including an African-American history collection.

“I live in the heart of Baltimore and this is a grand old building,” says Anderson. “It’s a treasure for the city. I feel that I’ve benefited from far-sighted people like Enoch Pratt, so I’m proud to be able to contribute to the library’s future. It’s a building that has changed people’s lives.”


A gift from the industrialist Enoch Pratt to all people, “rich and poor without distinction of race or color,” the Enoch Pratt Free Library was established in 1886. The Central Library building opened in 1933 and will be renovated by 2018.


Jessica L. Reid is Director of Marketing & Business Development at Mueller Associates, Inc.
Consulting Engineers in Baltimore, Maryland, USA, and can be reached at


Regional Chapters


Washington, D.C.-Baltimore Chapter

By John Bixler 


Our next Chapter meeting is scheduled for April 5, 2016. We will be meeting at the Library of Congress for a presentation on the Capitol Dome restoration project by Stephen Ayers, 11th Architect of the Capitol. The Capitol Dome was constructed of cast iron 150 years ago, and the last time the Dome was restored was in 1959–1960. Age, weather and more than 1000 cracks and deficiencies have led to this restoration project. Included in the presentation will be several videos, news releases, many photographs, and Dome specimens to view, so it should be a really nice Chapter meeting.

As part of our drive for membership, we’ve also reached out to the Bible Museum, which is scheduled to open in the fall of 2017. We have invited them to our next Chapter meeting. We are also networking with the folks at the Kennedy Center.

Several members have taken advantage of some in-service training hosted by the Smithsonian Facilities group. Last month’s training was on “BIM.” Presentations were provided by the Smithsonian, George Washington University, on how they are incorporating BIM into their facilities, and how Virginia Tech’s research into 3D visualization technologies is pushing the envelope in immersive review. The in-service training scheduled for March will explore the importance of getting out of your comfort zone to establish relationships and share information with others, as well as the Homeland Security Enterprise, and the role that all parts of it play.   


John Bixler is Deputy Director, Facilities Management and Operations, Office of Facilities Management and Reliability at the Smithsonian Institution, and can be reached at


Image  Page 49
Caption:Cross-section drawing from 1859 of the Dome and supporting structure, by Thomas U. Walter.


Ottawa–Gatineau Canada Regional Chapter

Winter 2016 Meeting at the Canadian Museum of History

By Guy Larocque


On Monday, February 15, following a record cold weekend of –20˚C (-4˚F) in Ottawa-Gatineau,  Chapter members braved the frigid weather to attend our first Chapter meeting in over a year. As February 15 also happened to be Family Day—a statutory holiday in Ontario—it was hard to find parking at the Museum across the river in Gatineau, Quebec, and a number of the members arrived a bit late. However, once we were assembled, we numbered 18, and were off to a good start.

Guy Larocque welcomed the group in the boardroom, where members donned hardhats and other protective gear and marched off to visit the construction site of the future Canadian History Hall. This 44,000-square-foot permanent gallery will present the largest and most comprehensive exhibition in the world on the history of Canada.

Designed by the museum’s architect of record, Douglas Cardinal, the new design reflects Canada’s vast open spaces in its architectural expression, along with Mr. Cardinal’s signature curved walls and sculpted ceilings. A curvilinear grand ramp measuring over 260 feet in length links the main 33,000-square-foot gallery to the 1,100-square-foot mezzanine, providing visitors with an extraordinary experience as they move through the exhibition spaces. Construction will be nearing completion by May 2016, and will be turned over to the Museum’s exhibition display teams this summer. The grand public opening will be on July 1, 2017—Canada’s 150th birthday.

The group was then led to the Museum’s central heating and cooling plants, where Todd Keeley explained the intricacies, complexities and controls of the HVAC systems. The plant uses river water to cool the chillers. The heat rejected from the chillers is reclaimed as a source of heating for the building.

Finally, the group returned to the boardroom, where lunch was served. The Ottawa- Gatineau Chapter members are very grateful to IAMFA for covering the cost of catering.

During lunch, Guy Larocque explained how unfortunate it was that the hosts in Australia will be unable to organize the conference in 2017, and that the Board asked if our Chapter could take it on.

Given that Canada will be celebrating its 150th birthday that year, with many improvements to the many national museums in the region, as well as to the National Arts Centre and many other local venues, the Chapter’s members all agreed enthusiastically to host IAMFA’s annual conference in Ottawa-Gatineau in September 2017. An organizing committee will be assembled from the various member museums, and will begin regular planning for the conference.

I would like to thank our local Chapter for their support, and we look forward to welcoming IAMFA’s members and guests in 2017.


Guy Larocque, P. Eng. is Director, Facility Management at the Canadian Museum of History and Canadian War Museum in Gatineau Quebec Canada, and can be reached at


Photos Page 49

Caption: IAMFA members heading towards the Grand Hall.


Image Page 49

Caption: The new 44,000-square-foot Canadian History Hall under construction.


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Caption: Members visiting the boiler plant.


UK Regional Chapter Update

By Jack Plumb


The 2016 UK IAMFA/Conservators meeting is open to all IAMFA and non-IAMFA members—especially our Conservation colleagues—and any colleagues from Europe are also very welcome to come along. If you are considering attending, please drop me a message at, and we will add you to our circulation list.

We have been invited to the National Railway Museum in York on Thursday, May 26, and the British Library’s National Newspaper Building at Boston Spa on Friday, May 27.

At the moment we are still planning the catering arrangements and presentations, but the general plan is that we arrive around lunchtime in York, where we will be guests of Ben Melham at the National Railway Museum. In the afternoon, we will have the presentations and a the Museum.

On the Friday, we have booked a bus to take us on the 40-minute journey to Boston Spa, where we will be guests of Patrick Dixon at the British Library’s new National Newspaper Building. In addition to presentations, we will have a tour around the new archive, then it will be back on the bus and back to York for the trip home.

We hope to meet up with as many of you who can make it. I will keep you up to date with developments as we get nearer to May.


Image Page 50
Caption: A panorama of locomotives arranged around the turntable in the Great Hall.


Image Page 50
Caption: The British Library's new National Newspaper Building at Boston Spa West Yorkshire. Photo © Kippa Matthews


Jack Plumb is Head of Estates at the National Library of Scotland, and serves as Editor on the IAMFA Board of Directors.   


List of Contributors


Nancy Bechtol

John Bixler 

Rebecca Ellis

Kendra Gastright

Patrick B. Jones

Guy Larocque

Jessica Lavin Reid

Stephanie Lieberman

Jeremy Linden

Keith McClanahan

Jim Moisson

Michael Murphy

Michele Pacifico

Jack Plumb

David Sanders

James Shields

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Jay Yelen