Thursday, September 04, 2008

Guest Blogger: Tommie Rodgers

At the Museum
At the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art, the end of the summer break means the beginning of school, newly installed exhibits, hurricane watching, and emergency responder tours. Certainly since Katrina, emergency preparedness has become a hot topic among Mississippi museums and libraries.

While Katrina prepped us for other emergency issues, we continue to build on our knowledge and refinement of preparedness. We have stocked recovery and cleanup supplies and maintain links to the outside world in case of disaster.

Three years ago, we began offering behind-the-scenes tours to the local fire and police departments. We have just finished the scheduled tours with the Laurel Fire Department and the Jones County Sheriff’s Department. In keeping with the theme of preparedness, the LRMA has recently installed a new security and smoke detection system and is in the process of installing a generator.

We hope the services of these organizations will never be called upon but we know the tours provide an added familiarity with every area of the building for those who might respond should a disaster be in the Museum’s future.

In addition to our visits, we have created a new disaster plan that will aid us in areas of response, recovery and rehabilitation. The Museum will soon participate in a Risk Evaluation and Planning Program sponsored by Heritage Preservation of The National Institute for Conservation.

The Museum is one of only fifteen museums from Mississippi, Ohio, and Texas that were selected to participate in a two-day site visit by a conservator and a local emergency responder. After the visit, a report will be compiled and provided to the Museum with recommendations for improved emergency response and preparation. The museums will provide feedback to Heritage Preservation concerning the process as well as gain valuable advice from these professionals. Our site visit will take place in October and will be led by Vermont conservator Mary Jo Davis and local Jones County Emergency Management Director Don McKinnon.

With the height of hurricane season upon us, it is time to check on supplies for the Museum as well as our homes. We should remember to have important papers in a safe, dry and accessible place; back up important computer documents; keep cars filled with gas; gather supplies of bottled water, canned food, non-perishables, flashlights, a battery-operated radio, batteries and hand sanitizer. Also make sure medications are in supply and take care to have items for special needs individuals such as children and the elderly. Have cash in bills of $20 or less and have a plan to contact out-of-state family members before and after an impending disaster.

In preparation for imminent hurricanes, you may soon see LRMA staff moving paintings into storage and tying down or moving outdoor sculptures. With skylights on the top floor of the building, we are prepared for water leaks with extra garbage cans and “kiddie” pools to catch water.

The Lauren Rogers Museum of Art is open Tuesdays - Saturdays, 10 a.m. - 4:45 p.m. and Sundays from 1-4 p.m. Call 601-649-6374 for information or check out the Museum’s website for programs, classes and exhibitions at

Tommie Rodgers is the registrar at the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art.

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