Secure the Perimeters

Secure the Perimeters

Every major metropolitan area in the United States has a museum of one sort or another. According to the government, there are more than 35,000 museums in the United States. The types of museums are as varied as the states they call home.

One thing they do have in common is security. All museums have some form of security in place to protect and secure their presence.

At the National Museum and American History, there are security measures in place to ensure visitors’ safety and the protection of the objects in the museum. Visitors will be greeted upon entry by one of several security staff who will conduct a thorough but speedy hand-check of all bags, briefcases, purses, strollers and containers. All visitors are required to walk through a metal detector. Those who are unable to go through the metal detector will be hand-screened with an electronic wand by security staff.

The National Park Service has an extensive security protocol for its numerous locations nationwide, though they do stress an extensive layered approach.

Overall responsibility for protecting the park’s museum collection rests with the superintendent, while museum and law enforcement staff share direct day-to-day responsibility. Nevertheless, all park employees––permanent, seasonal, salaried, or volunteer––are part of the park’s security system and have security responsibilities that should be reflected in the park’s standard operating procedures.

A comprehensive security system combines policies, procedures, personnel and hardware to protect museum collections from unexpected losses caused by crime, negligence, fire, or other catastrophic events.

There are no cookbook solutions for security problems, and no single recipe will turn out a perfect security system every time. Each park must develop its own system. Every park is unique, faces different threats, has different short-term objectives, and has different resources available. While security concepts are mostly common sense, applying them effectively requires care, consideration and experience.

In the museum setting, guarding the perimeter is vital. The best way in which to avoid interfering with the art experience, while keeping the art open and accessible, is by controlling the perimeter. Protecting the exterior of a museum leads to a more relaxing interior. To support these efforts, metal detectors and bag checks are a notable means to reduce the risk of damage within gallery walls.

When visitors’ bags are checked or they are advised to leave their belongings at the entrance so that accidents are less likely to occur. Nevertheless, to effectively guard the perimeter, a security threat assessment must be conducted to determine potential threats to the museum’s operations. During an assessment, any vulnerabilities the museum may have will be noted. The necessary measures to secure and safeguard against these vulnerabilities will also be presented.

At the National Air and Space Museum, the commitment is to visitor safety. The security staff have measures in place to keep you and the objects of the museum protected. Upon arriving at the museum you can expect a full security screening similar to what you might experience at the airport, except you can keep your shoes and belts on.

Here’s What to Expect

X-ray. Bags, jackets, briefcases, purses, containers, and pocket contents will go through X-ray machines.

Metal detector. Visitors will be asked to go through a metal detector. Those who are physically unable to do so will be hand-screened with an electronic wand.

Security staff. Keep in mind, the professional staff is here to help visitors.

At the National Museum of African American History and Culture, everyone’s security and safety are paramount, and all visitors are required to pass through screening at the entrance to the Museum. During the security process, you are greeted by one of our security personnel who conduct a thorough but speedy hand-check of all bags, briefcases, purses, strollers, and containers. All visitors are required to walk through a metal detector. Those visitors unable to go through the metal detector will be hand-screened with an electronic wand by security staff.

America’s museums house the treasures and heritage of our country’s fabric. You know there is security in each of these facilities, and you have to hope they worked side by side with a knowledgeable security professional for equipment installation. Protection of our nation’s story is paramount, and sadly, completely necessary to preserve the past.

This article originally appeared in the June 2017 issue of Security Today.

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