Core Documents

Commentaries to the Guidelines for Practice

Commentary 29 - Emergency Situations

  1. Rationale
    • In emergency situations, immediate response by a conservation professional may be required to save cultural property. Adherence to certain minimum accepted practices may actually endanger cultural property when resources, working conditions, staffing, time, and/or the normal chain of command are compromised by the urgency of an emergency.
  2. Minimum Accepted Practice
    • Conservation professionals working within an institution must be familiar with any existing preparedness and response plans.
    • The conservation professional must be an advocate for the creation and updating of emergency preparedness and response plans to protect cultural property.
    • In taking action to preserve cultural property, the first concern of the conservation professional must always be the safety of human life.
    • The Code of Ethics, clause IV directs conservation professionals to practice within their area of competence and education. In an emergency, conservation professionals must recognize that they may bring important general knowledge to the situation, even when working outside their field of specialization.
    • In emergency situations, the conservation professional must abide by the Code of Ethics and Guidelines for Practice as modified in the Special Practices, section D of Commentaries 4a, 4c, 4d, 5, 6, 7, 8, 22, 24, 25, 26, and 27.
    • In performing triage during an emergency situation, the conservation professional must be especially mindful of the importance of working with available allied professionals to make decisions.
    • Following an emergency situation the conservation professional must prepare a report documenting the situation, all decisions made, and actions taken to preserve cultural property.
  3. Recommended Practice
    • Because emergencies can become disasters through improper planning or training, the conservation professional should be familiar with the literature on emergency situations and gain knowledge and experience through activities such as training workshops.
    • In institutions, conservation professionals should take an active role in the preparation of emergency preparedness plans.


Approved by the AIC Board May 30, 2001.