Garment display Green glass display Stack of booksButterfly collection


     Vicki examining pamphlet

       Vicki examining a pamphlet from the
       Burgmann College Museum

     Metal certificate from ACT Records Office

       Metal certificate (ACT Records) on
       loan to the Burgmann College

     Karen and Detlev pondering

       Detlev Lueth and Karen Ely
       contemplate a risk evaluation table

      Veronica and Lynda with meter

       Veronica explaining light meter
       operation to Lynda Weller

     Group discussion outside

Terry Claven, Detlev Lueth, Jennifer Edmonds and Karen Ely discussing the Burgmann College Museum site


Anne Dineen, Maryanne McCubbin and Mark Dawson consider a class exercise with Veronica looking on

     Group discussion with showcases

Veronica listening in to group discussion with the simulated Museum display in the background


      Maryanne and Anne at work

Maryanne McCubbin and Anne Dineen at work

       Davina and Grant with meter

Davina Hacklin and Grant Collie at work while temperature and humidity are digitally measured

      Veronica and Vicki in cordial discussion

Vicki and Veronica comparing notes on workshop progress 

Presenters Vicki and Veronica are pleased with how this new workshop came together. Risk management for collecting organisations is in its infancy worldwide so we are proud to have taken this bold step forward on behalf of Australian collecting organisation workers. We look forward to refining the initial workshop in line with 2011 evaluation feedback for February 2012.

We very much enjoyed delivering this workshop.

Colour photographs on this webpage were taken by Andrew Sikorski, Art Atelier, Australia +61 (0)411 451 617

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Risk Workshop Report

How did the workshop go?

On 10 and 11 February 2011 Significance International held its inaugural Sustainable Collections Workshop on Risk Management for Collecting Organisations in Canberra, Australia. The site of this workshop was central to the main activity underpinning the workshop: the hypothetical creation of the ‘Burgmann College Museum’.

Burgmann College is a student residential college at the Australian National University and our beautiful venue was the Chapel building. Participants were encouraged to use their observational, measurement and communication skills (in groups and across groups) to characterise the Chapel environment, as a foundation for subsequent decision-making.

A majority of the fourteen participants came from Victoria; others were from the Australian Capital Territory, South Australia and country New South Wales. Almost half of the participants came from archives / records backgrounds, while museums, conservation and an art gallery were also represented.

Representation according to institutional size was good: four from  National institutions, seven from state / territory-based organisations, and three from regional collecting organisations. Most participants came from collections backgrounds and had minimal prior experience with risk management policy or practice; one participant has a financial background and is in fact a Risk Management Officer for a National collecting institution.  One state-based collecting agency was well versed in organisational risk management.

The framework for teaching was the international standard for risk management: AS / NZS ISO 31000 (2009) (scroll down to first item in the list).  Each step in the  ‘risk management process’ was explored, and culminated in the preparation of a risk register by the whole group at the end of Day 2. Mini powerpoint lectures introduced the background and aims of risk management generally. A longer lecture introduced leading systems for collections based risk management and included introduction to the ‘ten agents of deterioration’.

A ‘free association’ exercise at the beginning of Day 1 revealed generally negative associations with the term ‘risk’.  By the end of Day 2 a more positive outlook was evident as participants realised that risks can be identified and managed, and that this information means undesirable outcomes for a collecting organisation and its collections can be anticipated, then avoided or controlled.

After recognising that collections risk management can operate in a vacuum, a fun debate at the end of Day 1 challenged participants to come up with reasons why this separation from broader organisational risk management is a good thing. As risk management can be expressed quantitatively, a discrete probability calculation task exercised each participant’s mathematical brain.

Half of the workshop participants kindly completed an evaluation form about the workshop experience. As an inaugural event we sought genuine feedback on all aspects, from intellectual content and flow, to quality and quantity of the designed activities and presentation formats, right through to matters of catering, venue, fees and administrative communications.

The most popular session was the final session of Day 2 ‘Creating a Risk Register’, as it was seen to pull together the teachings across the two days. On average, session scores on the optional grading scale of 1 to 10 (where 10 represents the best possible result) were 7.6. ‘The Australian Way’ (about AS / NZS ISO 31000 (2009)) session scored 6.5 and clearly influenced the overall average, so this session is being redesigned for the next workshop in February 2012. A main concern of participants was that prepared notes were not provided at the time of the workshop. This situation has since been rectified. ‘Fun’, ‘informative’ and ‘good’ were common words amongst responses.

The venue, breaks and information / communications in the lead up to the workshop scored extremely well, so these settings will not be changed. The cost of the workshop was $500 (plus GST), and the average rating of this pricing and ease of its payment was 8.75. There were some requests for lunch provision so we will examine the feasibility of this for the next workshop at this slightly isolated location.

It’s clear from the evaluations that people very much valued and enjoyed the scope for general discussion in the workshop program, as well as the opportunity to work on interesting activities in groups with previously unknown or little known colleagues from a range of organisational backgrounds. The mock museum was also appreciated as reminder of object and material diversity and delicacy.

When asked at the end of the evaluation questionnaire what they sought to gain by attending this workshop, and then what they actually gained from the workshop, participants gave the following responses.

1.    Learn about risk / Set a register in place

2.    Understanding a framework for risk assessments and measurements for collections / As above and the importance of integration of risk management across divisions

3.    Exposure - awareness / All the above

4.    How to undertake risk assessment / How to start carrying out risk assessment

5.    How to more specifically include collection management issues in risk management / Exactly that

6.    More understanding of hands on collection assessment and risks involved / Basic understanding of theoretical models of risk management. Course wasn’t quite what I expected, but useful still



Session 1
Session 2
Exploring risk
[group work: brain storm]
Session 3
Risk theory and background
[presentation: then work in small groups]
Session 4
The Australian way
[presentation: collecting organisation scenario -
preliminary investigation in groups]
Session 5
Collecting organisations and risk
[presentation: debate]

Session 6
Concluding remarks

Session 1
Session 2
Recognised methods for collection risk assessment
[powerpoint presentation]
Session 3
Assessing the risk
[collecting organisation scenario: group work]
Session 4
Treating the risk
[collecting organisation scenario: group work]
Session 5
Creating a risk register
[collecting organisation scenario: group work]

Session 6
Concluding remarks and presentation of Certificates of Completion

 At the end of this workshop we stated that participants would be able to:

  • better understand risk management strategy and its benefits for collecting organisations
  • confidently assess risk for a collection
  • design and develop a risk register
  • develop proportionate responses to identified risks

We look forward to meeting you at one of our Sustainable Collections Workshops - either in Significance Assessment or Risk Management for Collecting Organisations.

Sign up here to be notified of future workshop events.

     Anne Dineen with meter

       Anne Dineen using a conservation
       multi-meter (temperature, relative
       humidity, light)


     Wayne Finlaison with temperature meter

       Wayne Finlaison holding a probe for
       temperature meter aloft



     Jillian Peterson taking notes 

       Jillian Peterson taking notes on the



     Lynda Weller using light meter

       Lynda Weller using a lux (light) meter



     Ornate belt and white gloves

       Veronica showing a mixed media
       ornate belt with dagger from the
       simulated Burgmann College
       Museum collection



     Classroom portrait

       Vicki explaining the Burgmann
       College Museum exercise to the class

     The site

The site proposed for the Burgmann College Museum

     Inspecting building structure

Robert Waterfall, Lynda Weller and Jillian Peterson inspecting the building structure and utilities

     Mark investigating Evacuation cupboard

Mark Dawson investigating the Utilities Room behind the Evacuation Map display

     Whole class in classroom

Vicki explaining 'Establish the Context' to workshop particpants

     Vicki, Terry and Painting

Vicki and Terry Claven in the breakout room at break

     Terry explaining a point

Terry Claven explaining a point to his group with Veronica listening in


      Vicki lecturing

Vicki illustrating that there are 10 agents of deterioration to consider in risk management

Read Jillian Peterson's interesting account of her trip to Canberra for this workshop on Page 6 of the Mildura Arts Centre Newsletter called the Mallee Bull