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Collection and contractors

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Anyone in any doubt about the special circumstances involved in working on museum projects as described by May Cassar opposite should read the latest publication from the Museums & Galleries Commission, written by Cassar with contributions by museum security advisers Peter Osborne and Alf Longhurst.

Called Working with Contractors , if offers guidelines on environmental and security protection during construction work in museums. Although aimed primarily at those within museums and galleries who are working with outside contractors, it will evidently also be of use to architects in determining the scope of their work and how it should or should not be tackled.

Culture secretary Chris Smith writes in the introduction to the booklet, 'A new room, gallery or even wing adds real value to the work running of museums.

It then runs through the whole contracting process.

Under 'achieving a successful tender', it describes the importance of pre-tender site visits, of telling potential contractors that they must comply with existing conservation requirements and security procedures, and of telling them that they must pay for all necessary safety measures such as fencing, barricading and signage. It even points out that 'museums shou ld ensure that contrac tors are responsible for providing in the tender price a telephone, fax machine and photocopier dedicated to their own use and that the tender price allows for expenses, fares and subsistence of employees, if necessary'.

It then moves on to the relationship with the contractor once on site, which ranges from security checks of employees in large museums, to the need for them to wipe their feet when leaving the work area.

Many of the proposed measures, such as restrictions on hot working and wet working, random searches of employees' lockers and 48hour notification of utility cuts, could seem draconian, but, as the introduction emphasises, 'all objects in museums are to be treated with the extreme caution and respect required by their cultural, historic, natural and/or scientific significance. Museum objects are irreplaceable and, hence, considered to be priceless'.

The guidelines finish with a sample project quality-assurance specification for contractors; a sample personal-conduct notice for contractors; an example of a hot-work permit and a checklist of museum personnel to be kept informed of contractor activities.

Working with Contractors is available, free of charge, from MGC Publications. Send an A4, stamped (38p) envelope to: MGC Publications, Museums & Galleries Commission, 16 Queen Anne's Gate, London SW1H 9AA.

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