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National Heritage Responders

The National Heritage Responders (NHR) - formerly the American Institute for Conservation - Collections Emergency Response Team (AIC-CERT) - responds to the needs of cultural institutions during emergencies and disasters through coordinated efforts with first responders, state agencies, vendors and the public. 

In 2007 the Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation Historic and Artistic Works (FAIC) received funding from the Institute for Museum and Library Services to develop a series of advanced workshops to train conservators and other library and museum professionals. These dynamic and highly successful workshops produced a group of 61 ”rapid responders” who are trained to react to disasters.

43 additional NHR members were trained in 2011, again with support from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, bringing the total number of volunteers to 107.  The expanded group provides better geographic coverage and a wider set of skills in responding to collections.

NHR began in part as a reaction to hurricanes Katrina and Rita, which struck New Orleans in the summer of 2005. Conservators possessed the much-needed expertise to save collections, but the administrative structure to coordinate the distribution of those skills was lacking. The program has since developed into a cohesive volunteer group of strongly committed conservators and other collections care professionals who monitor disasters as they occur across the nation and respond accordingly.

The group provides assistance by phone and email to collecting institutions affected by everything from leaking pipes to roof damage. NHR has deployed experts to assist with major floods in the Midwest and Hurricane Ike, both in 2008, and to other events. After each event, information is shared and techniques are evaluated and refined by team members.