Sustainability has been a hot topic across industry for years as institutions have made steps towards protecting the environment. An ongoing question is how museums can continue to implement sustainable methods while building towards innovations that make the process more streamlined and set up for success. Freddi Wald realizes that museums are in a unique position to educate the public and contribute to the larger conversation regarding the future of sustainable practices. Here, Frederica Wald explores a few of the most common ways museums have been addressing the need for more sustainability in the cultural institution space.
Start the Conversation
Conversations about climate change and the need for sustainable ways to curb its impact can be tough, especially when it involves questioning some of our own methods. Still, this is important to start these conversations as they provide insights to how we can make changes for the better. Freddi Wald speaks to how a few museums around the world have built platforms for finding solutions to the issue of climate change. Naturally, this can include informing the public and raising awareness, but it should also point towards ways staff can be more mindful as well.
Cultural institutions recognize that it is crucial to have a plan to build towards better sustainability, and many have taken steps to improve practices and methods with the environment in mind. Sustainability action plans are a common way for museums to address the goal of maintaining sustainable practices as they point to clear metrics for improvement. Freddi Wald notes that immediate action plans usually include actions and solutions for exhibitions and programs, operations, and staff to make necessary changes. These ideas are most efficient when they are fine tuned to be realistic, and staff of all levels are supported while they address sustainability on a day to day basis.
Take Pages from Successful Initiatives
As the issue of sustainability is pressed more over time, we are seeing many more examples of museums pushing their initiatives to better their practices moving forward. This means that there are a variety of examples out there that can serve as a blueprint for how a cultural institution can make changes to protect the environment. Taking pages from successful initiatives is a common way for museums to test environmentally sound practices. Frederica Wald recognizes that just because an initiative is successful in one location does not necessarily mean that it will be in others. It is vital to consider factors such as size, location, number of visitors, and several other details that could impact carbon footprint as you consider whether a specific method may be best for your museum.
Stay the Course
Without a dedication to prioritizing sustainability, plans for improving our carbon footprint are meaningless. For this reason, Frederica Wald mentions that the most important thing museums can do is keep working towards their goals. There may be obstacles on the path to determining more sustainable methods for museums. There may also be times where progress is not as quick as administration and specialists may have speculated. By remaining dedicated to making the logistical shifts necessary to keep the needle moving forward, museums can contextualize their efforts for the sake of the planet.