Security Basics

An article contributed Nov. 9, 2009 by CFFM member Gerald Glavin – for your consideration:


Not all galleries and museums can afford 24 hour security or are in buildings that provide such security. Even if the living quarters are above the museum, security is a matter of being aware and prepared. Make sure you, your paid and volunteer staff are deliberately made aware that good security is the result of good habits. Test your security regularly, as you do your fire alarms.

  1. Guard against internal and external computer abuse by shutting off your computers, especially on weekends. Contrary to intuition, keeping them on does not save wear and tear or electricity.
  2. Entrances, Exits and Windows are weak points.
  3. Entrances should be well lit – a strong light well above an outside entrance can be a deterrent and if out, a signal to building and/or police security patrol. To save electricity, only turn it on when you leave for the night.
  4. Make sure the door locks discourage entry – it may only delay a determined entry, but it will convince your insurer that at least you tried.
  5. Exits, especially Fire Exits, should be well barred, well lit inside and out, and hard to open from the outside.
  6. Windows are used to see if there is anything inside within easy reach to steal and sell. If you can, make sure your office equipment is not in full view. If this presents a problem, cover your inside window panes with one-way covers. If you can afford it, install alarm panes. Alternatively, a guard dog helps.
  7. Walk around everywhere as soon as you come to work – entry can be cleverly disguised and timely notification to both building security, police and your insurer is critical. Any burnt-out lights that are left for more than a day encourages those with bad intentions.
  8. Every once in a while invite your local fire, police and insurance agent to a reception and walk about. Take notes obviously and have them sign your ‘Visitors Book’. Any delivery by anyone should also be recorded. Lock this book away in a safe place EVERY NIGHT and weekend.
  9. Signing staff and visitors in and out is obviously a good thing too if you can. A side benefit is knowing who your visitors are for statistics and any mail-out notices, but such information will also be helpful to any investigation.
  10. If you have a camera, take pictures inside and out – keep dated copies at another location. Up-date your pictures after every change.