Books + Papers
Books, paper-based artwork, and paper records can sometimes be salvaged after being exposed to water, smoke and other extreme conditions during an emergency. Use these tips to evaluate what damaged items can be salvaged, and then to salvage what you can.
Guide to Insurance Claims after an Art Studio Disaster
In working with your insurance adjuster, you will need good documentation — photographs and written records of your collections — as s/he will want to know what their pre-event condition was. It’s pretty easy to see whether damage is old or new, so don’t expect to get reimbursed for collections that were previously in poor condition. For example, a print housed for many years in acidic matting materials will most likely have a matburn around the perimeter. If this piece gets wet, you will see water damage, but don’t expect the insurance to pay for removal of the matburn as well.
If you have to put in an insurance claim for treatment, a conservator will have to produce a technical examination and treatment proposal for you to give to your agent. Expect to pay the conservator for producing these documents, as it takes time to examine the artwork carefully and determine what course of action should be taken.
- RAP, the Regional Alliance for Preservation, has several members throughout the United States who have field service programs that provide phone assistance in an emergency.
- The Northeast Document Conservation Center, a RAP member, has a number of technical leaflets on preparedness and salvage posted at its site, and runs a 24/7 hotline at 978-470-1010.
- Munters and Belfor-US are two of the large salvage vendors in the United States. with resources in every part of the country. They have freezer and freeze-drying facilities.
- The Minnesota Historical Society has a fabulous salvage website and provides good technical leaflets as well as up-to-date links to other web resources.
- The National Park Service offers technical “Conserv O Gram” leaflets on the care of collections and what to do with damaged artifacts.
- The American Institute for Conservation is a membership organization for the art conservators in the United States and abroad. If you need to locate a conservator near you, use their find-a-conservator service.
- The Library of Congress: Emergency Drying Procedures for Water Damaged Collections
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