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Museums are established to educate us about the world we live in, as climate change proves to be a constant threat to our lifestyle, there is nowhere better to address sustainability issues and raise public awareness on the topic, while showcasing the benefits of adopting a sustainable way of work.

Natural light was adopted to light up the display gallery in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London

The museum space is notoriously energy-intensive; between the carefully controlled indoor climate conditions and the vast amounts of lighting required to light up the showcases, museums up and down the country use enormous amounts of energy to keep displays running. Many large-scale museums have established sustainable development policies which outline their future goals and objectives, and with it often big promises for change and improvement. However, little is known about the day-to-day efforts to make museums more sustainable, and the possibility of long-term environmental-friendly solutions for the sector.

The Natural History Museum in London has pledged to constantly improve their environmental performance and has implemented changes to their approach. Their Environmental Management System is certified to ISO14001 and they take concrete steps towards their 2035 net zero aim. These measures include the reduction in air travel, installing solar panels, and optimised recycling of equipment, waste and exhibition materials. To educate and spread the message about sustainability, the museum also introduces exhibitions where visitors are encouraged to rethink their daily choices and actions with the environment in mind.

Solar Panels installed at the Natural History Museum site in Tring

While small museums may not have the resources to implement as many green measures in their space, they can always start with cost effective and simple efforts such as incentivizing recycling among visitors and reducing production of paper brochures.

Museums as an educational institution can play a crucial role within the society and incorporating sustainability goals and education into exhibitions could raise awareness on the topic and encourage more to live a sustainable lifestyle.

Author: Arthur Ip, ICSD UK Youth Ambassador


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