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Reimagining Museums for Climate Action: An International Design Competition

Date: 05/06/2020

The AHRC Heritage Priority Area, led by Professor Rodney Harrison, have launched a new international design competition which aims to reimagine the role of museums to help society transform to a low carbon future, adapt to the impacts of climate change, and safeguard ecosystems.

Reimagining Museums for Climate Action asks 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.

As the world confronts a global pandemic that is impacting on all aspects of social, cultural and economic life, many of the certainties we may have had about the future seem less concrete. While thousands of museums around the world remain closed, new forms of engagement and experimentation have emerged to rethink the relationship between museums and society. Alongside a profound sense of loss and insecurity, there is hope: hope that the multitude of ways in which communities globally have responded to COVID-19 might inspire new forms of radical action to address the climate and ecological emergency. In this moment, it is particularly important to consider the unique capacities of museums to shape more just and sustainable futures.

Entries will be judged by an international panel of museum, architecture and design, climate change, heritage and sustainability experts. Eight finalists will each receive £2,500 to develop their ideas into exhibits, which will be displayed at Glasgow Science Centre ahead of and during COP26, the United Nations Climate Change conference, in 2021. COP26 is due to take place at the Scottish Event Campus. Glasgow Science Centre, which is situated next to the SEC, will be playing a key role in the conference. The exhibition will be accompanied by talks, workshops and other activities encouraging debate around the future role of museums, in times of rapid environmental change.

Emma Woodham, climate change programme manager at Glasgow Science Centre said:

“The exhibition will make an important contribution to Glasgow Science Centre’s overall climate change programme, which aims to inform, inspire and empower people of all ages and backgrounds to engage with COP26, and take action on climate change in their own lives.”

The competition has been developed as part of the AHRC Heritage Priority Area’s contribution to COP 26.

Professor Harrison said:

“The competition draws on academic research on the heritage and museums sector undertaken over the past 5 years by myself, Dr Sterling, and others (including work undertaken as part of the AHRC-funded Heritage Futures research programme), which suggests the need to develop new approaches to conservation and management of natural and cultural heritage which acknowledge—and begin to work with, rather than against—inevitable forms of (ecological, social and political) change.

“COP26 provides a significant opportunity for those both inside and outside of the heritage and museums sector to think creatively about these issues, and to present the latest thinking to a wider audience, whilst also highlighting the significant potential for museums to provide a catalyst for climate action to policy makers and others in the international climate action community.”

The competition closes on 15 September 2020. Further information is available on the competition website www.museumsforclimateaction.org 

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