Institute of Archaeology


Climate crisis: how museums could inspire radical action

23 November 2020

In a recent article for The Conversation, Colin Sterling and Rodney Harrison (UCL Institute of Archaeology) ask how museums could inspire radical action on the climate crisis.

Dr Colin Sterling (L) and Prof Rodney Harrison (R)

The emergence of the public museum cannot be disentangled from painful histories of colonial subjugation and exploitation. Now, in the shadow of a climate and ecological emergency that is impacting on all areas of social, political and economic life, the very purpose of museums is again being called into question.

Looking at the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on institutions, and highlighting the Horniman Museum in south London, Colin Sterling and Rodney Harrison discuss how museums and heritage institutions might survive and inspire during the current global emergency and reimagine themselves in the era of climate change.

The recent international design and ideas competition Reimagining Museums for Climate Action, which challenged designers, architects, academics, artists, poets, philosophers, museum professionals and the public at large to radically (re)imagine and (re)design the museum as an institution, to help bring about more equitable and sustainable futures in the climate change era is discussed. 

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