Museum Maintenance Cycles

Posted in Collections by Kathleen Watkin on April 15th, 2013

Waiting until your museum building suddenly crumbles is no way to determine that it needed a little TLC. 

Proper maintenance has been found to be the most cost effective method of extending the life of your building; this means that as the building’s caretaker, you take action on a pre-planned schedule to ensure that your building does not quicly deteriorate.  Actions could include cleaning, minor repairs, or inspecting the buildings that your museum owns.  This does not mean that parts of a building will never have to replaced, however what it does mean is that if you properly maintain your building it should be less often.   

All buildings require maintenance. There is no getting around it.  Completing inspections will help to determine trouble spots.  As the building’s caretaker, a schedule of when work needs to be completed should be created; it should include things to repair and features to monitor as well.  

The Manitoba Historic Resources Branch recommends a seasonal cycle of action that ensures that at every point in the year you are doing something to care for your building.  The diagram to the right illustrates this seasonal action plan.

What are some things to include in your seasonal action plan? Various organizations have created lists detailing what aspects of your building should be looked at during each stage.  Click on the Heritage Building Maintenance Manual to see some of these lists and download some worksheets to help you with your planning.

While you are drafting your maintenance plan, make sure you have the ability to follow it.  Have considered all safety aspects? Did you create a budget for maintenance? Are you physically able to complete tasks? Do you have the right equipment? Know when to seek help.

Keep records.  To ensure that future caretakers of the building know what has been done and what there is yet to do, keep paper or electronic records. Maintain these records.  Organize them into a binder or file on the computer where everyone can find them. Make back-up copies and store them in a seperate location.

Do you have a building maintenance plan? If you have any thoughts, ideas, or comments, leave them in the space below. 

References and Resources:

Alberta Culture.  Heritage Notes.  2011.

National Research Council Canada. Building Practice Notes. 1986.

Park, Sharon C., Preservation Brief: Maintaining the Exteriors of Small and Medium Size Historic Buildings. Washington, D.C.: National Park Service, 2007.

Peever, Mary.  Closing a Museum for the Winter. Ottawa: Canadian Conservation Institute: 1988.

Province of Manitoba, Historic Resources Branch. Heritage Building Maintenance Manual.   nd.

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