On May 18th, museums around the world recognize and celebrate International Museum Day. The goal is to raise awareness of museums as important means for cultural, scientific, historical or artistic exchange and enrichment of cultures.

As an owner of a museum facility or valuable, historical or educational artifacts, you are more susceptible to property exposure, crime, and public access liability. Your responsibly to preserve the integrity and significance for researchers or the general public can be difficult. Make sure your museum and artifacts are covered.

Property Exposure

Should a fire start, the potential for loss from fire, smoke or water damage is very high. Make sure your facility is safe.

  • Electrical wiring should be up to code and adequate for the museum’s use
  • Keep fire prevention and detection devices on hand.
  • Sprinklers should be chemical-based instead of water-based to limit damage to rare or historical items.
  • Additional fire exposure may result from woodworking or metalworking to build displays, cabinets and/or shelving.
  • Valuation concerns and the ability to rebuild with like construction and quality may pose significant problems in buildings with unique architectural features.

Crime Exposure

Although unfortunate, crime exposure is high due to employee dishonesty, high value of artifacts, and securities.

  • You should consider running background checks on all employees prior to hiring and reviewing all inventories.
  • Ordering, billing and disbursements must be separate duties.
  • Extremely rare items must be locked, with limited access.
  • All money must be deposited frequently and no money should be kept overnight.

Inland Marine Exposure

Valuable papers and fine arts pose significant risk management concerns since items may be irreplaceable. These can include statuary, paintings, artifacts, valuable historical documents, rare or historical books and manuscripts. In order to be viewed, these must be on display, but visitors may include thieves or vandals. There must be enough separation to protect the items but enough viewing available to encourage patrons. Items should be appraised by qualified, qualified experts. Fire, vandalism, theft or other loss protection and security should be in place.

Computers are another major source of exposure as museum records are generally computerized. Records should be duplicated and kept offsite. If any items are used or taken off the premises, the exposure to loss increases as these can be damaged in transit or stolen. Security and overall property controls should also be in place for items that leave the premises for exhibition or are received from others to be displayed on the premises. If the library assumes responsibility for items of others, such as those used for an exhibition, bailees customers coverage should be considered.

Premises Liability Exposure 

Public access to your facility or artifacts increases your premise liability. Public access must be restricted to only the items on exhibit and areas must be clearly marked for employees only. Public and life safety code compliance is very important.

  • Good housekeeping is critical to preventing trips, slips and falls.
  • Adequate lighting, marked exits and egress are mandatory.
  •  Steps must have rails, be well-lighted, marked and in good maintenance and repair.
  • Parking areas should be maintained free of snow and ice.
  • Children’s activities are becoming an important service provided by some museums. If parents do not stay with their children, there must be adequate supervision.
  • Background checks must be conducted on individuals regularly interacting with children. Security at the facility, as well as in the building, corridors and any owned parking area, needs to be carefully checked and reviewed.

Minimum recommended coverage:
Building, Business Personal Property, Business Income and Extra Expense, Employee Dishonesty, Money and Securities, Accounts Receivable, Computers, Fine Arts, Valuable Papers and Records, General Liability, Cyber Liability, Employee Benefits, Directors and Officers Liability, Umbrella, Hired and Nonownership Auto, Workers Compensation

Other coverage to consider:
Computer Fraud, Forgery, Bailees Customers, Employment-related Practices, Business Auto Liability and Physical Damage, Stop Gap Liability