Celebrating the Top 5 Posts 2017-2021-Coalition of Museums for Climate Justice Blog

Today’s Guest Post is by M. Christine Castle, Canadian climate activist and retired museum consultant. From 2017-2019 Dr. Castle was the Blog Editor and a member of the CMCJ’s founding Advisory Group.

As the Coalition of Museums for Climate Justice prepares to transition to a new website this seems like a good time to celebrate!

From the practical to the philosophical, from the local to the international, from big to small museums of all types, the last four years of posts from the Coalition of Museums for Climate Justice (CMCJ) Blog are provocative but full of hope. We celebrate and honour each and every writer who took the time and energy and courage to share their thoughts and experiences regarding some aspect of museums and climate. Every writer is a hero in our eyes – and every post makes its own unique contribution to the literature. I encourage you to (re)visit them all here!

Bouquet of flowers
Bouquet of flowers. Photo by Avrielle Suleiman on Unsplash

In reverse order, here are the top five most visited blog posts since the CMCJ blog began in 2017.

#5 How Can Museums Contribute to Solving the Climate Change Crisis? – Reflecting on the Royal Ontario Museum’s Initiative

Wicked Problems are much more complex and ‘entangled’ than simple problems. Climate Change is a Wicked Problem – mostly because of the cultural/social/political/economic factors that have caused it

In the most highly read post of 2020, this article by Douglas Worts aims to examine how new professional positions within museums, like the Royal Ontario Museum’s “Curator of Climate Change,” might lead to new and better understanding of how to catalyze visions, both institutional and across the living culture, that might lead to meaningful impacts. Read more here.

#4 Museums and climate change: what ‘should’ they be doing? AND No more excuses -15 things your museum should be doing about climate change

Polar Bear (G Gardner/Manchester Museum, University of Manchester) Museums are filled with the familiar icons of climate change: put them to work to explore alternative futures.

In this popular two part series from 2019, Henry McGhie outlines a set of ‘shoulds’ that he thinks have some usefulness, based on what museums’ strengths and capabilities are, and what the world needs. He explains how these 15 ‘shoulds’ can be applied to all museums, of any scale or subject, and can be picked up by all museum workers, to help them support climate action constructively. Read more here.

#3 Sustainable exhibits: Finding the balance between permanent and temporary exhibits

Example of temporary exhibit elements used to support the over-arching themes introduced by the permanent exhibit elements. Photo credit: D. Jensen & Associates

What are the pros and cons of permanent versus temporary exhibits? How might we make our exhibition practices more sustainable? Using four real life examples, David Jensen explores these perennial questions in this 2018 post. Read more here

#2 A Shade of Green: Ten Practical Steps for Museums

Way back in 2017, Joshua Lichty encouraged museums to accept the need to operate on a greener level as the first step in the process of making the organization more sustainable. And, he acknowledged, with limited time, money and staff not many museums have environmental sustainability on the top of their to-do list. He went on to share 10 simple steps to demonstrate museums don’t need to demolish your existing building or undertake a massive renovation to make your museums more environmentally conscious or sustainable. Read more here.

And, finally, drum roll please, the MOST VISITED CMCJ BLOG POST OF 2017-2021 is

#1 The True Costs of Collecting – Museums, Climate, and Carbon

California Academy of Sciences
California Academy of Sciences – a state of the art building designed to reduce energy use to a minimum, reduce emissions and generally produce a light ecological footprint. Public Domain image.

Erin Richardson and Douglas Worts considered the conundrum that collections care is seen by museums as central to their missions, while being a source of carbon emissions. They went on to explain in this 2018 post,

Collection-related activity therefore requires a close review of the assumptions underpinning this traditional museum function, including meeting optimal environmental standards, the necessity of objects in the museum, and the need to continuously expand.

The True Costs of Collecting – Museums, Climate, and Carbon

In conclusion

Just a reminder that there are many “hidden gems” amongst our blog posts for 2017-2021 that for whatever reason (timing, title, etc., etc.) did not make the list of greatest hits. I encourage you to check out the complete list here – SOON, as this website won’t last forever …

Chris Castle

M. Christine Castle is a retired museum consultant and continuing community-based climate activist in Canada. Dr. Castle was a member of the CMCJ’s founding Advisory Group and the Blog Editor 2017-2019 and intermittently 2020-2021. She holds a B.A. in Modern History from the University of Toronto (1975), M.A. in Teaching, Museum Education (1981) from The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. and a Ph.D. in Education from the University of Toronto (2001). She is forever grateful for the opportunity to have worked with the amazing group of people who wrote for the CMCJ Blog during her tenure as editor.

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. dcworts

    The work of the Coalition has grown in many important ways over recent years. For me, Chris, it has been your amazing energy, creativity and commitment to leverage the power of social media that has driven and animated this effort. The foundation of the work, it seems to me, revolved around the Coalition blog. For years, you have tirelessly engaged a very wide range of contributors whose writings kept the blog pushing forward into the intersectional space of ‘museums and the climate crisis’. But it wasn’t just arranging for contributors. You tracked statistics, reported back and fostered meaningful exchange across the community. This is a legacy piece for the Coalition, and I trust that the next chapter of the blog’s existence will be built on the foundations you have laid here. Beyond the blog itself, you, along with Amy and Paige, helped to shape, moderate, amplify, animate and continuously support the Coalition’s Facebook group. This FB group contains an absolute wealth of material that sadly is almost unusable, because FB provides no indexing ability (hmmm… perhaps a motivate graduate student might like to mine the depths of this resource and see what can be done with it). Thirdly, you have been a passionate animator of the Coalition’s work on Twitter! I can’t keep up with the wide-ranging strategies you’ve employed to push the awareness-building and dialogues that have resulted from your tweets. All in all, you have done an amazing job in taking this home-grown, Canadian effort into a truly global forum. Before this chapter of the blog’s existence closes, I just wanted to say “Thank-You!” for all that you have done. You have been an inspiration!

  2. mchriscastle

    Too kind, Doug. But thank you!!

  3. Sarah Sutton

    I want to say thank you as well, Chris. You were early to the game, are playing more than your expected minutes, making all sorts of goals, etc. I know it’s as part of a really good team, but you’ve made quite the difference. We are inspired and grateful!

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