Open Forum

 View Only
  • 1.  protecting objects while replacing roof

    Posted 02-11-2019 04:32 PM
    I'm wondering what other museums do when they replace a section of roof, especially flat roofs. Have you replaced a roof recently? In general did you:
    1. entirely close the galleries on the top floor and remove the art from that space?
    2. close the galleries but leave the art there, protected by tarps or other barriers? OR
    3. leave the galleries open and simply take precautions to only work on dry days, only opens areas one day at a time, use a temporary membrane of some kind, etc.?

    Similarly, did you just make adjustments to the upper floor of the museum, or all floors under the area being re-roofed?

    I'd love to hear any lessons you've learned from the process!

    Sean Regan
    Construction Project Manager at
    The Walters Art Museum
    Baltimore MD

  • 2.  RE: protecting objects while replacing roof

    Posted 02-12-2019 09:39 AM

    Roof Repair is dangerous.

    I use the following cases:

    Also see the attached Lessons Learned document.  In short, "better safe than sorry!"

    Respectfully yours

    Paul C. Thislte

  • 3.  RE: protecting objects while replacing roof

    Posted 02-13-2019 08:40 AM
    Thanks for the info! We'll be sure to protect against fire if there is heat-welding of the roof seams.  One more question: in general have you emptied out galleries when you have to do roof work?


    Sean Regan
    The Walters Art Museum
    Baltimore MD

  • 4.  RE: protecting objects while replacing roof

    Posted 02-13-2019 10:20 AM

    The major capital project I ran was the adaptive re-use of an empty Canadian provincially designated heritage structure as a professional standard museum facility, but museum collections were not on-site during the work. Thus, no shifting of collections was required.

    I confess that the renovation of a Canadian National Historic site for the renovation of an interior space to create a new gallery that I also ran was accomplished without moving displays or storage.  There was no roof work in this project.  I tried to spec the fire safety issue as tightly as possible &, thankfully, we were blessed by no damage to the structure [other than the selective demolition] or to the collections. 

    However, upon subsequent consideration, I would say I certainly should have moved adjacent exhibition objects & emptied the storage area above the renovation work,  It was a 1902 wood construction, but it was covered by an existing wet pipe temperature-rise trigger fire suppression system--that you also must spec extreme care to protect.  I now think that not shifting museum objects off-site was an error in managing risk on my part.

    As the Lessons document identifies, during renovations museum staff--& I would stress individuals with the authority to control contractors--must be on-site every day [as I was in both cases above] to inspect the work so as to be able to hold the contractors' noses to the specs, identify any dangerous accumulation of flammable waste products for daily removal, etc., etc., etc.

    Museum renovation projects are a significant burden to staff & so you should plan for rest & recovery from all the extra work & stress once the project is complete.

    All the best


    Paul C.Thistle
    Director/Curator (retired)
    Stratford, Ontario

  • 5.  RE: protecting objects while replacing roof

    Posted 02-14-2019 07:51 AM
    I second everything Paul says, particularly the need to plan carefully and monitor the site daily.
    Your option 3 (only working on closed days etc) would be very expensive and time consuming from a construction point of view. Once your contractor is at work and the roof is opened up, it's best to get the project done as swiftly as possible.
    Option 2 (covering works of art in place) may be possible, and in cases where objects are too large or heavy to move, it may be your only option. Consider that dust and water might reach your objects, and consider that you may not be able to control the climate in that gallery, so cover accordingly. A lot depends on the structure beneath the roof and above the ceiling of the gallery, and the extent of work above. Talk to your contractor about exactly what he/she/they plan to do.
    Option 1 (clearing the gallery) is usually the best. In general, an ounce of prevention is worth more than any cure for important objects, so do take the precaution of carefully moving your precious collection items into safe storage and away from the area immediately below the roofing work. Likely you do not need to move objects from the galleries below, unless duct chases that release into those galleries will be impacted by the work.
    Best of luck with your project,

    Ann Woolsey
    Integrated Planning for Museums
    Providence RI

  • 6.  RE: protecting objects while replacing roof

    Posted 02-13-2019 02:25 PM
    I have not had experience in this but I would suggest that you talk to the roofing company and your insurance company for direction in making this decision. Also, a business in your area that has a building of a similar size, shape, and age and experiences the same weather you do could perhaps give you a better idea of what could go wrong or what to look out for.

    Susan Rubin
    Special Events Coordinator
    Desert Botanical Garden
    Phoenix AZ

  • 7.  RE: protecting objects while replacing roof

    Posted 02-18-2019 10:27 AM
    The Hispanic Society recently replaced the roof of their Main Building, dated 1904.  We never hesitated that we needed to remove all art from the areas below, which was an enormous effort given the lack of adequate storage space and limited staff. Nevertheless, we identified new areas to store works and installed temporary HVAC. The works that could not be moved were protected in situ, the floors were cover with protection and waterproof material, and pumps were installed in case the temporary roof failed -this was especially important since there are library holding below. We were fortunate that we never had to put the pumps to use, but we felt it was important to take the "belt and suspenders" approach. Feel free to reach out if you have any further questions.

    Margaret Connors-McQuade
    Assistant Director
    Hispanic Society of America, Museum Department
    New York NY