Protect Collections from Floods: Museum White Paper by Cooper Robertson

Flooding from severe weather events associated with climate change pose a dangerous risk to museums. Techniques for cultural facilities to prevent damage of collections by severe weather are detailed in the new white paper by Cooper Robertson, “Flood Mitigation in Museum Design.”

In this new publication, experts discuss how both planning and resilient design features can help museums resist and mitigate the potential impacts of severe climatic events. According to Cooper Robertson partner Scott Newman, FAIA, a global authority on cultural and educational architecture, “Informed architectural design, sound museum planning, and strong technical knowledge of the behavior of floods can protect a museum’s staff and collections from the risks associated with new extreme weather models.”

For the Whitney Museum of American Art adjacent to the Hudson River in New York City, architects from Renzo Piano Building Workshop in collaboration with Cooper Robertson located all galleries and art storage on the fifth floor and higher, protecting the collections from future storms.

The firm also specified 10-inch-thick aluminum floodgates and continuous waterproofing of the exterior walls for quick staff response to periodic flooding. If a catastrophic event like Hurricane Sandy is anticipated, a temporary flood barrier is deployed to protect the building’s ground floor and basement.

More detailed information on the design of the Whitney Museum is covered in the new white paper, along with other techniques for preventing damage to cultural assets. For more information, please visit

Flood Mitigation in Museum Design is part of a five-part series of white papers on cultural architecture by Cooper Robertson.

Cooper Robertson is one of the leading U.S. architecture and design firms for cultural and museum facilities, with 38-plus museum projects around the United States and abroad. Its cultural practice, led by Scott Newman, is among the world’s foremost museum architects, with significant expertise in collections, space programming and museum design to inform award-winning architecture. Clients have included MoMA, the Yale Center for British Art, Gettysburg, and the upcoming Gateway Arch Museum, St. Louis.