top of page
  • Writer's pictureRina Singh

Art for Art Sake – Building Resiliency & Planning


As a committee member for BANG, (A group for People interested in business continuity and organizational resilience) our event on the 27th May 2015 welcomed Russ Timpson, the founder and CEO of Horizonscan Ltd.

He talked about art treasure recoveries; a type of planning I had never considered, but since the talk, it has played on my mind and sparked a curiosity in this area.

As fires & floods are a major risk to all types of buildings which contain irreplaceable artwork, books and artefacts, what are the techniques and proven processes to reduce that risk? Russ delivered a great presentation and below are some highlights with some additional thoughts.

What got us thinking about this?

Clandon Park, a grade 1 listed building near Guildford Surrey was a prime example of probably little planning. Paintings were thrown onto the lawn in attempts to recover as much as possible without knowledge of which were high value and how to retrieve these. It was an essential lesson that highlighted the need for pre-planning and investment in recovery procedures. Much of the art and treasures in buildings contain history and it is difficult to put a price on invaluable items that come with years of heritage.

Recovering art work in galleries: Business Continuity Planning (BCP)

For museums and galleries, the BCP might include a list of exhibits in order of importance, and have a dedicated recovery team available to evacuate those exhibits to a safe location in the event of an incident. But, before this can be done, we need to ask ourselves a few questions. 1 Know what you’ve got.

First is defining what we actually want an irreplaceable asset is. It is priceless items? Knowing what you have is a starter, and knowing if this can be insured is also essential. There is a need to create, asset registers, (this is vital for any business) pick lists, resources, have plans and layouts, access route, know the limitations of the building you are in. In terms of art recovery, maps could be for internal use to enable those nominated to move items. All this requires the need to work in hand with security people and health and safety to carry out appropriate risk assessments.

2 Risk Management What’s your Risk Appetite?

Now you have identified what you've got, manage the risks. There are various ways this can be done and examples include, distributing your assets, move or protect (find a suitable place), containment (fire doors) and diversion (if water is coming down the building channel it out of the windows.) All of these need horizontal and vertical planning pre planning. All these things, ought to be considered through a risk management process which includes the assessment of likelihood of an incident that would trigger an evacuation of such art works/treasures etc.

It is important to note that full evacuations of national treasures/art works etc. may not be practical or necessary (unless of war were declared). Colour coding high value items /paintings may be a good strategy to adopt. This of course may be subject to easy theft amongst many issues but more importantly would require working very closely with the local emergency services and agreeing mutually beneficial plans.

The key thing to remember is to:

3 Liase, Plan & Practice

Who are the stakeholders?  It is important to confirm expectations: At Windsor Castle, a whole army came to recover all the books. This is not very good use of government resources and hours can be spent recovering essentially low value items. A planned response ought to be preferred.

Plan, Check, Plan Check: Are responders competent, has training been given, plan and check and continue until this is refined. The presentation rounded off with a closing question we ought to consider.

The ladder questionIs it reasonable to ask someone to get up on a ladder and try and salvage a painting? This should be our sanity check where varying factors are considered such as age, fitness and also if it indeed is practical.

Whilst being curious, I came across an Art Loss Register (hyperlinked), Check it out!

This month, we have a whole day city survival exercise planned with an evening event on personal Survival. Do come along if you are around central London in the evening, it’s free. 

Click here

until next time..







Blogging since 2013, you'll find plenty to share.

From helpful articles, and insights, tips, rants and the occasional guest blogger.

All striving to help you become more resilient.

bottom of page