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Museum Emergency Programme
Preparedness and response in emegency situations


Human and natural disasters are a major threat to cultural heritage. Hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, land slides, volcanoes, wind effects, fires, war and other disasters wreck havoc on the environment and sometimes completely destroy entire areas of cultural heritage, both "movable" and "unmovable".

The Museums Emergency Programme (MEP) is to be considered as a response to the needs expressed by museum professionals all over the world to develop expertise in the areas of emergency preparedness and response and is also included within the framework of the concerns of the International Committee of the Blue Shield (ICBS) which was set up to facilitate international responses to threats or emergencies with co-operation at global level.

General Objective
The aim of the programme is to advance understanding and awareness of the nature of disasters and how to limit and contain damage through preventive conservation measures and rapid intervention to save cultural heritage, with the involvement of local communities and respect for local traditions, techniques and know-how.

The Museums Emergency Programme is a long-term programme divided into modules which can sometimes be considered as processes run in parallel:

Module 1   Surveys
Module 2   International Symposium on Cultural Heritage Disaster Preparedness and Response (Nov. 2003)
Module 3   Creation, Translation and diffusion of support/teaching materials :
                Cultural Heritage Disaster Preparedness and Response (International Symposium Proceedings, Salar Jung Museum, Hyderabad, India, 23-27 November 2003)
Module 4   Museums Emergency Programme Education Initiative
Module 5   Creation of Regional Networks
Module 6   Launch of the Awareness and Fund Raising Campaign

The first two modules have been financed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands.

Objectives of the Museums Emergency Programme (MEP)

  • To involve museum professionals, establishing contacts between them and with other relevant players (e.g. International Committee of the Red Cross, Médecins sans Frontières) that have been directly involved in disasters.
  • To create networks of these institutions and maintain them as active forces.
  • To develop coordinated action with the above-mentioned institutions.
  • To identify key professionals (directly involved in disasters) plus know-how, techniques, teaching materials, training experience and feedback, which are often difficult to access or retrieve.
  • To disseminate and pool information with other professionals with various cultural backgrounds.
  • To emphasize cultural differences in the approach to risk preparedness and response.
  • To adapt knowledge acquired to different geographic situations and cultures.
  • To translate reference texts into as many languages as needed and/or make available literature and other identified support tools.
  • To use the ICOM network (currently c. 20 000 members) to spread information on Risk Preparedness and Response.

Target group
Museum professionals and other professionals with links to the programme, such as firemen and volunteers.

Searchable on-line MEP Bibliography     CALL FOR CONTRIBUTIONS (pdf file)

Contact: Cristina Menegazzi

Updated: 17 September 2007