Climate museums: powering action

Today’s Guest Post is by Jenny Newell who manages Climate Change Projects at the Australian Museum, Sydney.

Over the next few days, as we leave 2020 and enter 2021, we’ll be 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.

Panel discussion, ‘Taking Action’ exhibition, with Miranda Massie (far left), Dr Sonali McDermid and young Climate Museum spokespeople, Governor’s Island, 2019. Photo: Lisa Goulet.


Innovative museums dedicated to climate change have opened over the past decade. At the same time, increasing numbers of established museums are rethinking their missions and activities to refocus on care of nature and its people, using diverse approaches and methods. While the museum sector has only recently started to draw together in more interlaced conversations about shared goals in the face of the climate crisis, there is nevertheless a notable degree of cohesion of mission across these institutions as they face the shared global challenge. The missions and activities of five climate museums in Bremerhaven, Hong Kong, Rio, New York and Olso are explored, finding high levels of audience reach and impact. This paper focuses on the ways these museums are helping people to understand, care about and act on the climate crisis, stepping up to local and global collective efforts to bring the changes we need.

Read more here.

Jenny Newell manages Climate Change Projects at the Australian Museum, Sydney. Newell became increasingly concerned about climate change while working with Pacific communities in curatorial roles at the British Museum and the American Museum of Natural History. Now, she is focused on galvanizing engagement in the climate crisis through museums. Her books include Pacific Art in Detail; Trading Nature: Tahitians, European and Ecological Exchange and, as co-editor, Curating the Future: Museums, Communities and Climate Change and Living with the Anthropocene: Love, Loss and Hope in the Face of Environmental Crisis. She convenes the Museums and Climate Change Network.