October 01, 2009
Water Damage at The State Historical Society of MissouriAt approximately 5:30 p.m. yesterday, September 30, 2009, State Historical Society of Missouri Associate Director Lynn Wolf Gentzler was notified by University of Missouri Ellis Library security personnel of a water leak in a storage room of the Society’s headquarters in Ellis Library on the university campus. Upon inspection, Gentzler learned that the “water leak” was the consequence of a malfunctioning sprinkler head from the fire suppression system in a room used to store duplicate copies of documents and publications. The malfunctioning sprinkler triggered the Ellis Library fire alarm, which, in turn, alerted Columbia firefighters who arrived on the scene within minutes. There was no fire.
Gentzler quickly notified Society director Gary Kremer and other Society employees, who assembled immediately to assess the damage to collections and begin the cleanup operation. Damage was confined to multiple, backup copies of state documents, primarily Missouri state agency reports from the 1970s to the early 1990s. Missouri statute provides for the deposit of multiple copies of such reports with the State Historical Society.
No unique, one-of-a-kind materials were damaged. Society staff members are working with university fire personnel to identify and replace aged and potentially faulty sprinkler heads such as the one that precipitated this incident. At no time were any original manuscripts or rare books in danger. Nor was there any threat to the Society’s rich art collection that contains scores of works by Missouri’s two most famous artists, George Caleb Bingham and Thomas Hart Benton. Indeed, contrary to earlier reports, the Society’s art gallery and art storage area contains no sprinkler system.
Cleanup by Society staff will continue through the day on October 1, 2009, with the hope that the process will be completed by the end of the week, October 2. Normal patron services at the Society will not be interrupted by the ongoing cleanup and restoration efforts.
posted @ 2:07 PM
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