The New Orleans Museum of Art

What were the study collections doing in the basement?

Mike O’Hare — who will soon be posting here in his own name — writes:

A few days before the hurricane, I reflected in the Boston Globe that increasing concentration of irreplaceable art in major museums put our cultural patrimony at ill-advised risk of terrorist attack with minimal compensating advantages.

Unnecessarily concentrating treasures in this way, especially study and research collections not on display, puts them at other risks as well. The New Orleans Museum of Art is on a high part of the park, and according to the New York Times’s sad catalog of cultural and artistic losses , “seven staff members … including security guards and engineers, stayed behind Tuesday to protect the collection and were presumably there through the week.”

(More professionals being professional; I hope some foundry is making medals around the clock, because we’ll need a lot in the next few months.)

But the Times also reports “…the other major concern was basement storage spaces. There was only enough fuel for the emergency generators, which operate sump pumps and climate control systems, to last until the middle of last week….If water invades and the pumps fail, it could threaten thousands of photographs and prints.”

Basement storage, in New Orleans? Why was that stuff even in the same building?

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: