DMA to Upgrade Museum Security Measures


Dallas Museum of Art | Image by EQRoy/Shutterstock

The Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) has been making significant changes in its security efforts following a break-in last summer.

On June 1, a vandal allegedly broke into the museum and damaged several artifacts that were initially estimated to be worth $5 million. However, that figure was later walked back by a museum official, who said the total amount could be a fraction of the initial estimate.

The 21-year-old suspect, Brian Hernandez, was only apprehended after he called the police and turned himself in. He was charged with criminal mischief of more than or equal to $300,000.

The museum hired a California-based security firm, Chameleon Associates, to review its security measures. Deputy Director Tamara Wootton Forsyth told the Dallas Morning News that the security company visited the museum in November.

By mid-December, Chameleon gave the museum a final report and a list of three security priorities. According to Forsyth, these priorities included “procedural and strategic” changes, personnel issues, and the museum’s system and facilities, as reported in the DMN.

Forsyth said the staff began implementing security changes within hours after the break-in. The museum “made changes to the way we increased our security presence in the building, as well as changing our patrol procedures,” Forsyth told the DMN.

The museum’s leaders added more alarms and security cameras and installed glass-break sensors and more motion detectors.

“We have taken this incident very seriously. We very much consider it our duty to be responsible stewards of the art in our collection and to ensure the safety of our visitors and staff,” Forsyth told the DMN.

Forsyth told the DMN that the cost estimate for the extra security measures is in the “high five figures.”

The threats museums now face “are quite different from past” threats, according to DMA leadership. Some new threats the museum has seen in recent years range from “climate-change vandalism to health-related incidents to active shooters to bomb threats, which we had recently,” per the DMN.

The Dallas Zoo, another City-owned institution, has had its own security problems this year, as previously reported by The Dallas Express. In January, two Dallas Zoo monkeys and a leopard went missing under suspicious circumstances. All three animals were later recovered.

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