Six inspiring individuals will share their small and big steps for climate action in museums. Out of close to 30 applications to the 2023 edition of the Museum Project Slam, we chose to give the stage to these inspirational projects.
The Museum Slam on Stories of Action takes place on 21 November at 11:30 at NEMO's European Museum Conference “and… ACTION! Museums in the climate crisis” in Lahti, Finland. To attend the Slam, you need to register to the conference, which will explore how museums can take action for the climate and a sustainable future.
- Ana Salvador (Belgium), House of European History
“Throwaway - The History of a Modern Crisis” is the House of European History’s fifth temporary exhibition - temporary exhibitions which, by the way, can be wasteful per se. However, this project has opened up space for experimentation in our museum. More than an exhibition, it has been a complex operation, “Operation Rubbish!” But why rubbish? And how?
With this exhibition, the museum went beyond an informative role. We reflected and changed our own practices, started moving from a linear to a circular way of building exhibitions. Among other things, we decided not to undertake this project alone, by opening up the space for participation of waste workers and local experts who usually do not have their voices heard. We also collaborated with nine other European museums working on environmental topics, giving our project a pan-European scope.
For more information, watch the making of “Throwaway” here.
- Harry Cutmore (the United Kingdom), Natural History Museum
In 2020, the Natural History Museum published a bold new strategy, declaring a planetary emergency. The Museum committed to creating the next generation of advocates for the planet through its public engagement, both nationally and internationally, who could implement change for our collective future. "Generation Hope: Act for the Planet" is at the frontier of this strategy.
"Generation Hope" challenges our unsustainable relationship with the natural world. The programme has grown from being a series of online talks to a globally focused programme that delves into solutions for people and planet. The aim of the programme is to connect local communities from across the globe to an international network of scientists, activists, and changemakers at the heart of the climate crisis. By presenting scientific data alongside lived experience, we can succeed in creating a programme that empowers audiences to take action. By moving beyond just providing information through exhibitions, to being a source of empowerment and dialogue, we can provide our audience with the tools they need to be a part of the solution.
- Cato Ebeling Koning (the Netherlands), National Maritime Museum Amsterdam
The National Maritime Museum has the ambition to be an eco-positive museum by 2030. As an eco-positive museum, we aim to provide the needs of today, without putting the needs of future generations at risk, and additionally to contribute to a better world. The museum is working hard to reduce its own ecological footprint through sustainable business operations. We do this by collaborating with Copper8, specialized in guiding organizations in challenging sustainable and circular results within existing financial frameworks. In this presentation the National Maritime Museum will share some insights into our trajectory into becoming a circular museum.
- Urška Repar (Slovenia), Museum of Recent History Celje
Some museum professionals see the journey towards sustainability as a great opportunity to change for the better, while others are stressed by the changes and feel that it interferes with their autonomy. This challenge is not necessarily something completely new and does not require a complete change in the way museums operate. Many of these management practices are already in place in museums for reasons other than practicality, such as lack of resources, low budgets or storage space issues that force us to keep furniture and equipment in constant use or to borrow it between institutions.
When we evaluate these approaches that we are already taking from a sustainability point of view, we can see that we do not need to make very radical changes for the sake of the green strategies that some museums are adopting. We can gradually build on what we have already implemented in the way we work and improve our strategies towards sustainability. The alternative solutions in sustainability that we have to continuously look for in order to be able to follow the example of other museums, despite the constraints, may turn out to be something that we are actually leading in. Less is more is only the first.
- An Lavens (Belgium), BELvue Museum
Have you ever pondered the role of museums in the fight against climate change? This presentation invites you on an enlightening journey through BELvue Museum's multi-faceted approach to sustainability. We'll delve into the practicalities of weaving sustainability into the fabric of daily operations, visitor experiences, educational programs, and exhibitions. Prepare for an engaging exploration of actionable solutions that are making a tangible impact today!
BELvue Museum is not just a custodian of history; it's a trailblazer in sustainability. An Lavens will offer an in-depth look at the museum's sustainability initiatives, examining their efficacy and impact on both the institution and its visitors.
- Ilenia Valerio (Norway), Natural History Museum
In this presentation we aim to illustrate how we have worked with the "Climate Dialogue", an educational programme where secondary school and high school pupils are invited to share their thoughts about climate change and how they relate to it.
Climate Dialogue is offered at the Natural History Museum's Climate House, which opened in 2020 and is the first exhibition space in the Nordic countries entirely dedicated to providing research-based knowledge about climate and climate change. At the Climate House we believe in youth and their ability to reflect on climate change. We support the idea that teenagers should have a voice in our society and be heard. Norway has one of the highest shares in people denying human-caused climate change, and many of the public discussions are polarized. Therefore, we believe that especially youth need a safe space where they can share any thoughts about climate change and listen to other’s perspective whether you are politically to the left or to right, rich or poor. That kind of “safe space” is what we try to create here at the Climate House and especially through the educational programme Climate Dialogue. The main aim is to give youth the experience of sitting together and share opinions safely, and still disagree. They do not need to be alike to be liked, and we want them to know it and feel it.