Green Museums: Tackling the Climate Crisis

Green Museums: Tackling the Climate Crisis

Green Museums: Tackling the Climate Crisis demonstrates the many different ways that museums are responding to the climate emergency.

The report presents case studies from museums within the NMDC membership across three themes: research, public engagement and greening estates and operations.

  • Museums use their collections, including extensive natural history and science collections, to conduct research which makes a huge contribution to fighting the climate crisis.
  • Programmes and exhibitions inform audiences about environmental issues and inspire them to take positive action.
  • Museums are reviewing their operations to reduce the environmental impacts of all activities. They are addressing this challenge using new technologies and implementing green solutions across their sites.

Download the report in full here.

Below are a selection of additional case studies which further exemplify the work museums are undertaking to address the climate crisis under the themes of research, public engagement and greening operations. 

Image Caption: image taken by Maeve Cushla from Lights Out for Darker Skies exhibition, raising awareness of light pollution ©PK Porthcurno

Manchester Museum: Inheriting the Anthropocene

Inheriting the Anthropocene: Using the museum support young people to explore their own feelings and experiences of inheriting the Anthropocene

This project involved a series of free after-school workshops for 11-14 year olds (Young Adventurers), taking place in Manchester Museum and delivered over seven consecutive weeks in June and July 2019. Six local young people, researchers from Manchester Metropolitan University’s Biosocial Research Lab and members of the Museum’s Learning, Curatorial and Conservation staff took part with a. focus on expression and creating a display exploring “inheriting the Anthropocene”.

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Cornwall Museums Partnership: PlanetPK

Planet PK

Planet PK is the multi-award-winning environmental programme of PK Porthcurno, Museum of Global Communications. It recognises the duty-of-care as residents and landowners in Porthcurno valley. Planet PK embeds green values within future business, programming and marketing plans to
ensure the environment is central to every decision they make.

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V&A: Developing a Sustainability Plan

Developing a Sustainability Plan

In September 2021, the V&A published its Sustainability Plan. Arranged under the three headings of Place, People and Programme, it identifies key issues and actions that will be prioritise over the next three years in the context of a long-term net zero carbon target.

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Tate Modern: Water Irrigation

Water Irrigation

With growing population rates and such a small percentage of all the water on Earth fit for consumption, it can make a huge difference to the environment if each of us preserve and conserve this precious resource. Water conservation means using the limited water supply wisely and not contributing to unnecessary wastage.

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Tate Modern: In Real Life exhibition

In Real Life, Olafur Eliasson

Olafur Eliasson’s major survey exhibition, In Real Life, brought together more than 40 highly engaging installations to stimulate a public debate around climate emergency.

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Natural History Museum: Nature in Lockdown

Nature in Lockdown

In 2020, the Natural History Museum ran a Natural Environment Research Council funded project investigating public views about the environmental impacts of the COVID-19 lockdown. NHM researchers and collaborators tracked the shift in audiences’ views and habits during the pandemic, crowdsourcing research ideas and investigating which environmental impacts the public care about the most.

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Manchester Museum: Thinking Through Extinction

Thinking through Extinction 

What does it actually mean to people from different backgrounds and experiences to face extinction?

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Manchester Museum: Roots and Branches

Roots and Branches 

A partnership of Manchester Museum, Museum Development North West (MDNW) and the Carbon Literacy Trust have cemented a three year working relationship by being awarded £136,750 of Arts Council England’s National Lottery Project Grant funding for an ambitious two-year project, Roots & Branches, to dramatically scale up the roll-out of Carbon Literacy training for museums.

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V&A: Anthropocene Reading Group

Anthropocene Reading Group

The V&A Anthropocene Reading Group is a cross-departmental staff discussion forum convened by V&A East, V&A Research Institute (VARI) and the Estate department. The group is dedicated to critical thinking around the Anthropocene – our present age in which human activity has become the dominant force shaping the climate and ecosystems of planet Earth.

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Natural History Museum: Plants Under Pressure

Plants Under Pressure

As humans cause unprecedented change to the natural world, a time referred to by many as the Anthropocene, this project seeks to understand the distribution of plant diversity and evaluate threats to its survival. The Plants Under Pressure programme at the Natural History Museum measures how many plant species are threatened with extinction, where these plants grow and why they are threatened. 

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Manchester Museum: Life on Land

Life on Land 

In 2018, Amy McDowall, Primary Learning Coordinator at Manchester Museum, came across a British Council programme called Connecting Classrooms through Global Learning. The programme itself combines learning resources, training, support for partnership working, and funding to develop international school partnerships and exchange visits.

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V&A: Carbon Literacy Training

Carbon Literacy Training

The V&A ran its first Carbon Literacy training course, delivered by SOS-UK (Students Organising for Sustainability) between February and March 2021. Over three sessions, the course provided a strong action-led approach, raising awareness around the carbon costs and environmental impact of both individual actions and organisational behaviour.

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