5 Most Popular Museum Climate Action Stories of Year 1 – Coalition of Museums for Climate Justice

The purpose of a storyteller is not to tell you how to think, but to give you questions to think upon.  — Brandon Sanderson, fantasy/science fiction writer

Photo by Joshua Rawson-Harris on Unsplash

Bob Janes, Founder and Co-Chair of the Coalition of Museums for Climate Justice, tells us here that two of the most important concrete actions museums can take to help their communities move toward climate solutions are to (1) form partnerships with environmental allies and (2) tell stories and educate.

The first year of the Coalition of Museums for Climate Justice’s Climate Action Stories and Case Studies initiative worked toward sharing such stories and partnerships. From the the local to the international, from the big to the small, from art to history to science, here are the top five most visited stories/case studies of museums helping their communities to move toward climate solutions … but I encourage you to visit them all.

What do you think? Which are your favourites? Which are most useful? And … when will YOU share your story?

#1 How a Museum Garden Connects Community – A Smart-City Solution


Paige Dansinger tells us how Better World Museum  is creating an edible indoor garden as a form of social action. Garden One is a project dedicated to creating more equity, inclusion and diversity through placemaking. The garden uses emerging technology to enhance human-centered design and helps make growing plants a mobile connected experience.

#2 Historic Site Addresses Sea Level Rise Impacts through Community Partnership – Strawbery Banke Museum


During tidal events from December 2017 through March 2018, 16 to 27 inches of salt water was observed in the basement of the c. 1795 Shapley Drisco House at Strawbery Banke Museum. Seeking a solution to this increasing threat, Strawbery Banke was invited to join the City of Portsmouth’s Local Advisory Committee (LAC) for the Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment on Historic Portsmouth. Rodney Rowland, Director of Special Projects and Facilities, Strawbery Banke Museum, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, USA writes about what transpired.

#3 Meeting the LEED Gold Standard – Markham Museum Collections Building


It was a “natural” fit. Cathy Molloy, Director of the Markham Museum in Ontario, Canada, writes about how her remarkable museum designed a Collections Building to meet the LEED Gold Standard.  This in addition to native plant gardens, waterless gardens and a windmill to aerate the storm retention pond – all projects built with partners. Programming at Markham museum is very much focused on sustainability and shared human technologies like pottery, textile working and food production.

#4 Art & Sustainable Energy at the Woodstock Art Gallery

Woodstock AG- 2016-WAGFebruaryOpening(069of069)

How did a medium-sized art gallery partner with others to move toward climate solutions? Student participants learned more about sustainable energy and Oxford County’s [Ontario, Canada] renewable energy target. But, perhaps just as importantly, thinks Robert Grosland, Head of Collections,

students discovered that art can not only challenge us to question what we see around us but can also challenge us to make a difference in our communities and in our world.

#5 Weather Watching on Semiahmoo Bay: White Rock Museum Exhibit Tackles Ocean Health and Climate Change

Photo courtesy Kate Petrusa

Knowing what we do about declining global ocean health, climate change, and the increasingly insidious plastic material in the oceans–the passionate message was clear: We are metaphorically skin boats sustained by, and inseparable from, a changing global ocean. Kate Petrusa, Curator at the White Rock Museum and Archives in British Columbia, Canada, shares the story and images of an exhibition that calls attention to the life-sustaining connections between the precariously balanced chemistry of the ocean and the human body.

So … what do you think? Which are your favourites? Which are most useful?

And … when will YOU share your story or case study?

(More information on doing that here)

Chris CastleChristine Castle is a member of the Advisory Group for the Coalition of Museums for Climate Justice (Social Media File). She is also an independent museum education consultant (mostly retired) and an Adjunct Professor in the University of Toronto’s Museum Studies program. She has worked and volunteered in the museum field for over 40 years as, variously, historical interpreter, curator, consultant, and board member. She believes that museums have the potential to be “suggestive institutions” in the struggle for climate justice.


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  1. r.pjanes@telus.net

    Excellent work, Chris – thank you very much.


    Robert R. Janes

    Founder and Co-Chair

    Coalition of Museums for Climate Justice

    Honorary Visiting Research Fellow, Museum Studies, University of Leicester (UK)

    Coalition: https://coalitionofmuseumsforclimatejustice.wordpress.com/

    Videos – Museums and the Climate Challenge: https://youtu.be/dHZaLOiMcnU

    Museums and Climate Change

    Article – Museums and Climate Change Activism: https://medium.com/@TheBeamMag/museums-and-climate-change-activism-cc0561e50731

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