Today’s Guest Post is by Bridget McKenzie, founder of Climate Museum UK, a researcher and creative curator in culture, learning and environment.
This month we are highlighting articles from a special issue on ‘Museums and Climate Action’ published as Volume 35, Issue #6 of the journal Museum Management and Curatorship. Many thanks to both the Journal and the authors for allowing free access to this work. A link to McKenzie’s article follows.
This is a signpost to my longer article Climate Museum UK: a contemporary response to the Earth crisis.
In the article I offer a peek inside the mission, journey and approaches to programming of Climate Museum UK. Climate Museum UK is a mobile and digital museum stirring and collecting responses to the climate and ecological emergency. Our growing team of associates is distributed across the UK, in an unusual structure inspired by mychorrizal networks. Together and individually we run participatory programmes of conversational activities that use objects, art and creative activities to help people feel, think and act in response to the Earth crisis. We bring in diverse voices and playful approaches to explore a wide range of themes beyond climate science, to focus on the lived experience and social dimensions of climate breakdown and breached planetary boundaries.
The article begins by describing the creative and socially engaged practices of our founders, including myself, which have evolved into the form of an activist museum operating through a Community Interest Company. Referring to our desired outcomes for people and the planet, it describes some successful experiments so far, as well as the challenges we are facing. These challenges correspond to those that hamper climate action: the enormity of the issues, the various shades of climate denial, and the impacts of the wider ecological emergency.
6 Guiding Principles
Six principles that guide our programming are used to describe some of our activities, including pop-up displays, workshops, digital projects, and training for professionals. Our six principles enable all our associates and partners to collaborate around shared language and intent, and contribute to our work being effective in mitigating and enabling people to cope with the climate and ecological emergency. These principles are:
- Being Possitopian – expanding imaginations to embrace future possibilities
- Participatory – involving people as democratically as possible
- Holistic – the environment is not a single issue; humans are nature
- Intersectional – acknowledging the intersecting factors of injustice
- Compassionate – increasing care for others
- Planet-kind – doing no harm and aiming to heal
Since writing the article we have grown as a team, and settled into an online mode of delivery imposed upon us by the pandemic. We’re extending our team with a Young Associates group, so that emerging practitioners can support each other and develop funded opportunities.
I’m getting involved in a number of projects, such as a Listening Project on young Londoners, culture and the Earth crisis, and being a peer mentor for the Happy Museum’s No Going Back peer learning programme.
For more, you can also read another take on our museum in this article on Atlas of the Future.
Finally, an appeal for your stories…
We’re collecting and sharing the ways that Culture Takes Action, and offer this framework for expanding and categorising how organisations can respond to the Earth crisis.
This brief offers a peek inside the mission, journey and approaches to programming within Climate Museum UK, an emerging mobile and digital museum that stirs and collects responses to the climate and ecological emergency. It begins by describing the creative and socially engaged practices of our founders, which have taken shape as a museum focused on climate at a time when extreme weather events and climate activism dominate the news. Six principles that guide our programming are used to describe some of our activities, including pop-up museums, workshops for educational audiences, digital projects, and training for professionals. Referring to our desired outcomes for people and the planet, it describes some successful experiments so far, as well as the challenges we are facing. These challenges correspond to those that hamper climate action: the enormity of the issues, the various shades of climate denial, and the impacts of the wider ecological emergency.
Read more here.
Bridget McKenzie, founder of Climate Museum UK, is a researcher and creative curator in culture, learning and environment. She has been director of Flow Associates since 2006, after 14 years in roles such as Education Officer for Tate and Head of Learning at the British Library. She is also an advisor for Culture Unstained and co-founder of Culture Declares Emergency, who trains and publishes internationally on possibilities of Regenerative Culture. @bridgetmck https://aboutbridgetmckenzie.wordpress.com/