Green Museums

You might be surprised to know that as a general rule, museums use more energy than office buildings – mostly because of the need to provide constant temperature and humidity. (…Not such a problem for most of us!)
Museum Victoria recently commissioned a report into its own sustainability, which encourages ‘life-cycle’ thinking:
• Was something manufactured in an environmentally sustainable way?
• Will it be used in a sustainable way?
• Can it be disposed of in a sustainable way?
Principles
• Re-use what exists (or give it to someone who will)
• Select low-impact materials
• Integrate sustainable thinking into design thinking (eg think about recycling – screw, don’t glue to encourage recycling)
• Undertake fabrication practices that minimize waste
• Work to reduce other environmental impacts (eg think about the type of lighting used)
• Communicate this approach (to contractors, suppliers, the public, colleagues)
An example of this approach is the recent Pompeii exhibition – much of the display was built from cardboard, which has turned out to be more expensive to build, but much cheaper to freight. The most environmentally sustainable inks were also used.
If you are interested in exploring these issues further, there are many websites with information. You may be interested in the Sustainable Exhibition Design Blog: http://sedesignblog.blogspot.com/ or an American site, greenexhibits.org, which asks us to Begin * Rethink * Plan * Build * Connect * Dream http://www.greenexhibits.org/intro.shtml  The Californian Museums Association also has a site: http://www.calmuseums.info/gmi/index.html

Newsletter reference

CMP News No. 45 February 2010

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