Twenty top tips for safeguarding your museum or gallery over Christmas

During the festive season, unattended museums and galleries may face security risks such as vandalism, burglary and fire. In this article, Te Papa Security Services lists some of the things that you can do to ensure your building and taonga are kept safe during the Christmas break.

On top of checking that doors, windows, skylights, fences/gates, display cases are locked & secured, there are a number of activities that you can undertake.

Theft and burglary

• Discretely display information about closure times over the Christmas/New Year break as opportunistic thieves may act on this information.
• Remove and secure away any higher value/flashy items.
• Notify the local Police of closure, they may pay more attention to the building/area.
• Ensure night lighting is operational, including external sensor lights. Consider use of timers to switch chosen lighting on and off.
• Check the mounts, frames and security fixings of displayed items that cannot be removed/secured.
• Conduct a daily walk around the premises by museum team members.
• Consider engaging a security company to conduct regular mobile patrols if budgets allow.
• Ensure display cases are secured and where electronic security systems are employed, test them.
• Where CCTV cameras are installed, ensure the system is operational and providing you with the correct areas of surveillance. Consider temporarily changing viewing angles during the break to afford better observations of would be intruders. Include signage across your boundary/fence area to inform visitors that security cameras are in place.
• If your alarm system is monitored notify the security monitoring company of the museums closure and update your key holder details.
• Remove any items in vicinity of roof lines that maybe used as an aid to climb onto roofs (scaffolding, ladders etc).

Fire and floods

• Ensure fire protection and sensing devices are operational (where installed), change batteries for standalone smoke detectors.
• Ensure hand held fire extinguishers are charged and ready for use in case needed.
• If a gaseous fire extinguisher system is used, check to ensure it is gassed up and operable.
• Ensure all taps are fully turned off and that drains, toilets etc are not blocked.
• Check for possible water egress under external doors, around windows – install simple barriers are as needed
• Turn off unnecessary electrical items. Checks cords for compromise that may cause a fire
• Remove any material from around the property that could be used as a fire starter/accelerant (rubbish piles, old building materials etc).

Rodent protection

• Ensure adequate rodent and other pest control devices and material is set
• Remove all food and perishable items not secured on site

For a comprehensive list of activities you can do before Christmas to ensure the safety of your building and taonga, check out our Security Checklist.


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