6 February 2018




Museums often specialize in preserving and exhibiting the past for the present publics, but what are we doing as a collective to ensure that the heritages we safeguard will even have a future to exist in? Climate change has been a hot topic for such a long time, advocates often seem to be shouting into the void. But we all need to take action, now more than ever - so what innovations are museums producing to lead the fight against climate change?

We have already surpassed some of the measurable limitations of our planet, so how can we get back into the "safe space" before it's too late? Source.

Museums are not neutral, and climate change is not a debate. 

As museums, we often look to educate our publics rather than to reflect inwardly, as I discussed back in May 2017. I want to reemphasize that now, as more resources along these lines have been produced since then and the case is growing more urgent every day. When the very core of many museum operations contribute to an enlarged carbon footprint, including the high cost of energy for environmental controls vital for the preservation of collections, should we not take responsibility for preserving our future as well as our past?

We should be empowered as cultural institutions to take responsibility for our roles in contributing to climate change, and take actions to mitigate our impact. Source.
Julie’s Bicycle, a company aimed at bringing climate action to the creative arts, has partnered with the Arts Council of England and numerous other institutions in the UK’s cultural sector to produce Museums’ Environmental Framework in November 2017. This new resource provides tangible and measurable actions that museums can take as leaders in the environmental practice. The outline identifies twelve main areas museums can integrate climate justice into their operations:
  • "Aligning environmental values and stewardship with museum values and mission
  • Embedding environmental sustainability in governance and management
  • Commitment to environmental improvement and action
  • Understanding environmental impacts and measuring what matters
  • Communicating and engaging internally on environmental impacts and action
  • Communicating and engaging externally on environmental impacts and action
  • Engaging visitors and audiences on environmental values, understanding and action
  • Taking action to make buildings and sites more environmentally sustainable
  • Developing environmentally sustainable practice for collections care and exhibitions
  • Embedding environmental sustainability in commercial services
  • Integrating environmental sustainability in financial and investment decision-making and fundraising
  • Developing environmental collaboration and partnerships"

This provides a solid framework that expands on previous models to include every facet of the museum’s activities, and that can be overlaid any current museum model. While each institution will have to find their own way to best incorporate climate justice into their operations, the Museums’ Environmental Framework concludes by drawing together examples across the world of museums leading environmental action – proving it can be done.

Just say NO to those deniers and defeatists! Source.
In order to truly preserve heritage in the long-term, we must face climate change with optimistic action rather than passive defeat.

What action will you take?

(Keep your eyes out for fellow Musings Contributing Editor Lana Tran’s piece tomorrow to look at what museums are doing now, here in Ontario!)

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