To celebrate the 100th anniversary of what is called Einstein’s Miraculous Year, the American Museum of Natural History in New York City has allowed the Einstein Manuscripts, which include hand-written ledgers and formulas, to go out on loan to museums around the world. Thanks to the museum’s willingness to share, the public will have a chance to look at some of the original calculations that led Einstein to his famous insights.
It doesn’t take someone of Einstein’s brilliance, however, to know that traveling exhibits need special protection. To ensure that the Einstein papers would survive their tour, the museum had to do some calculations of its own, regarding risks and preventive measures that should be taken. One result was a custom-made high-security case for the collection, which had alarms for environmental conditions and theft built in. The case materials were designed to maximize visibility for museumgoers, while protecting the pages from harsh light, humidity, and accidental spills of liquids, such as coffee.
That’s just one example of the considerations required for traveling exhibits. In each case, a risk assessment serves to frame the appropriate security profile for the location, after which a site visit allows staff to get the full picture and determine whether adjustments to the host museum’s security are needed.