Repairs Underway Due to Water Damage

Friday, March 5, 2021

We have been preparing to reopen, but a recent event has slightly delayed our plans. On Tuesday, February 16, during the extremely cold weather spell in Kansas, a line in one of the museum’s HVAC humidification units froze and created a leak on the 7th floor of Dyche that quickly ran down the main stairwell and extended across other floors on the east side of the building. We are fortunate that no specimens on display, research collections, labs, or offices were damaged. The flood was mostly contained in the public galleries, and recovery will continue in these areas through March and April. We hope to reopen once interior building repairs have been completed, contingent upon regional COVID infection rates.

At around 6:15am that morning, we received a call from custodians that there was water in the building and that they had found the source and were turning it off.  All custodians on campus, professional recovery services and Facilities Services maintenance personnel were dispatched immediately to Dyche Hall. KU Custodial Services was first on site to start the water cleanup and had contractors from ServPro respond shortly thereafter.  The initial emphasis was on water extraction with fans and dehumidification following. To drain the water from the ceiling above the mosasaur, holes were drilled in the plaster ceiling, allowing it to dry quickly and preventing structural damage. While this was taking place Museum staff were working to minimize water damage to exhibits – removing fossils from exhibits cases and opening cases to allow them to dry. At this time, everything has dried out and all drying equipment has been removed from the building.

In the next month, a company with experience working with historic plaster will be hired through one of the University’s on-call contractors to repair plaster ceilings and walls. Painting of the impacted areas will follow. The need to repair or replace flooring is yet to be evaluated. KU Facilities Services will assist with ongoing building clean up and other minor repairs.

We are grateful to James Kemerling, our custodian, whose quick action in the early morning hours helped immensely.  Many thanks also to the entire KU Custodial Services and Facilities Services personnel. Kudos also go to our indefatigable Collections and Facilities Coordinator, Lori Schlenker, who has been spearheading the assessments and repairs, and to our staff including the exhibits team, Greg Ornay and Laura Mohr.