Speaking off the top of her head, National Portrait Gallery director Karen Quinlan says Howard Arkley's 1999 portrait of musician Nick Cave is the painting she would whisk away to safety if a bushfire threatened the gallery.
The portrait is one of the iconic works in the gallery's collection and high on the list of priorities to transfer to an underground store if the building came under threat.
"We're not deemed to be in the bushfire zones. But if that did happen, then the plan is obviously to ensure that people are put first. The collection, basically, is in its own collection storage area, with its own systems," Ms Quinlan said.
"The iconic works would be taken off the walls and put into the storage system, which is underground. I'm very confident that our artworks would be safe."
Ms Quinlan said part of the director's job was to love all the collection's works, making prioritising difficult. She said she has not been directly involved with the process of prioritising the collection.
"To single out some works I'd run out with, maybe the painting of Nick Cave by Howard Arkley. But at the end of the day, as a director, I have to love them all equally, a bit like family. We would do whatever we could to put the items into store, because we know the store is safe. It's like a bunker," she said.
This summer has seen collecting institutions in Canberra focus their attention on contingency plans if their public buildings or collection stores were threatened.
The institutions are confident their collections, facilities, staff and visitors will be always safe, but have planned for every eventuality.
Ms Quinlan said the gallery's awareness of fire risks had been heightened by the extent of bushfires over the summer period and the poor air quality in the ACT
"We believe, fundamentally, we won't have to close unless we have an extraordinary situation where there's a power outage. Our attitude is that the doors are open; this is a sanctuary for people to come, to be in an air conditioned environment, so long as our air conditioning is working."
Ms Quinlan said she was feeling more confident after the renewed focus on risk management.
"I feel that we've done everything that we can to be ready in the event there was something catastrophic," she said.
It is a similar story across Canberra, with the major collecting institutions meeting regularly to make sure their plans are up to date, and they would be ready to act.
A National Gallery spokeswoman said plans were in place to protect staff, visitors and art works.
"Its efficacy was well-tested during recent air quality issues and has strengthened the organisation's crisis capability. Due to sensitivities around security and insurance for the $6 billion national collection, we do not discuss details around crisis planning," she said.
The National Museum, in the shadow of Black Mountain, might seem close to a bushfire-prone area, but museum director Mathew Trinca said the Acton site was actually well-placed and readily defensible.
"We think that, because it's surrounded by water on almost all sides, it's one of the safest places in terms of collections in Canberra," Dr Trinca said.
"Some of our thinking about even the imminent crisis is the idea that our storage site at Mitchell is more likely to be threatened by fire. ... For obvious reasons, Mitchell is surrounded on all sides by open grasslands, some treed areas."
Dr Trinca said collecting institutions had been meeting in Canberra regularly to discuss disaster plans and share resources. Museum staff went through disaster preparedness training in December game-planning for a variety of scenarios.
Those scenarios included looking at how collection items could be evacuated if there was some warning of a threat.
"In the case of the hail storm, I think most people would agree it's difficult to imagine that you would have enough warning to move collections in advance of the event," Dr Trinca said.
"But in the case of bushfire that might be bearing down on, let's say, north Canberra, we're likely to have at least several hours, if not some days. Then we would enact our management plans around imminent threat and seek to remove high-value collections - high-value in terms of monetary value but also the cultural value, inclusive of collections related to Indigenous Australians that we hold in trust - to a safe place."
The National Museum has offered space at Acton for other institutions looking to safeguard their collections and Dr Trinca said he had received offers of support from museums overseas.
Dr Trinca said there needed to be a rigorous assessment for the cultural institution sector after an "unprecedented summer".
"There is no doubt that we need to be clear and honest about the implications about the summer we've seen, let alone what might still come, in thinking through how we will operate in the future," he said.
He said institutions would need to consider how they approached international exhibitions in future Australian summers.
"My sense is that they will continue to be, but we'll just do additional planning around risk to those collections. I think it would be a terrible thing for Canberra to resile from the reputation that it's been developing as a major tourism destination for cultural experience over the course of our summer break," he said.
The National Archives of Australia has also offered space to other institutions in its state-of-the-art Mitchell storage facility, archives director-general David Fricker said.
"Our situation here at the National Archives is actually quite good, relatively speaking," Dr Fricker said.
The archive's new storage facility in Mitchell is built to withstand fire, with thick concrete walls and an air filtration system. Sprinklers, too, would douse the building if a fire approached.
"For us, the safest place for those records to be in the event of fire is to remain safe inside the building," Dr Fricker said.
If the archives' Parkes building was threatened and there was a long enough warning period, exhibition material would be evacuated to more fire-resistant parts of the building. Staff and visitors would be the first priority.
But what keeps Dr Fricker awake at night is the thought of losing irreplaceable paper-based records, which in some way had a connection to the vast majority of Australians. Digital records backed up securely off site can be kept well out of the line of fire.
"I think we're in the best position we could be in terms of our responsibility to all Australians. I'm satisfied but not complacent," he said.
National Library staff kept a close eye on the path of the recent Beard fire, which threatened Oaks Estate and Queanbeyan earlier this month, to see whether it would come towards the library's Hume storage site.
But with a neatly maintained garden and sprinkler system, they were confident either way the building could be defended.
The library's director of security and facilities, Erin Dampney, said the most precious items were stored at Parkes, where the library's 50-year-old building held up remarkably well in tough conditions.
"We do keep our most significant collection items in the Parkes building, and certainly that's a very robust building," Ms Dampney said.
"If we had a bushfire near us, [the library building is] made of stone and concrete and I really doubt that it would be impacted by a fire externally.
"And then the collection material is also stored another step internally, so there are lots of measures in place in terms of where within the building we store our collection material to keep it safe."
She said it was safer to keep at-risk material inside if a fire approached
"I think a lot of damage can be done moving collection material when it otherwise might be safer to keep it in place," Ms Dampney said.
However, there is a register of items that would be prioritised for evacuation if there was ever a real need.
Ms Dampney said items like James Cook's 753-page journal from the HMS Endeavour, which are irreplaceable and nationally significant, were at the top of the list.