Climate resources bank
Here you’ll find a library of useful tools and knowledge to help build climate action in the museum and heritage sector. The resources are listed under the three goals of our climate justice campaign:
This is a dynamic list – if you have resources you’d like to share, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The resource bank ends with a reading list of suggestions for further research.
Art UK: Climate change and environmental learning resources
Art UK, the online home for public art collections in the UK, has created a resources round-up for teachers showcasing learning resources from across its partner collections in order to raise awareness and champion change.
Stories, artworks and learning resources related to the climate crisis can also be found across its website.
Design Museum: Waste Age exhibition
An exhibition that explored how the design industry has contributed to creating an extractive throwaway culture but also how design can – and must – help to find less wasteful ways to live and consume. The show also considered how to design exhibitions to be less wasteful.
Glasgow Museums: Scenes from Our Climate
A Smartify tour through the museum service’s paintings collection, to discuss the impacts of climate change and how these are reflected in the artworks.
Horniman Museum & Gardens: Environment Champions Community
A community group that suggests activities people can do from home, at the museum or in their local community, to help them take action in their daily life.
Indigo: Act Green research programme
Culture sector consultancy Indigo is researching audience attitudes towards the role of cultural organisations and their audiences in tackling the climate crisis.
Museum of Water
A touring exhibition which displays a collection of publicly-donated water and tells stories of the people and places it comes from with a focus on raising environmental awareness.
National Maritime Museum: Our Ocean, Our Planet
An online hub hosted by the museum to explore ocean issues, the climate crisis and our changing relationship with the sea. The hub combines scientific research with the latest developments in art and relevant discoveries from its collections.
The museum also features a page in its online shop dedicated to sustainable products.
Natural History Museum: Urban Nature Project
Led by the Natural History Museum with partners across the UK, this community engagement project aims to give people the motivation and tools they need to safeguard nature in urban spaces. The museum is transforming its own gardens into a biologically diverse green space.
Wardlaw Museum: Dive In exhibition
The Wardlaw Museum’s recent experimental exhibition explored how museums can have a positive impact on the environment by encouraging people to make sustainable decisions. The museum is working with a consultant in environmental behaviour change and is researching what effect the exhibition had on visitors.
Climate Heritage Network
A membership organisation with a digital network covering topics such as the role of arts, culture and heritage in decarbonisation, and promoting climate solidarity. The network has produced an advocacy guide to help heritage organisations strengthen their advocacy to a range of audiences, including peers, workplace leaders and policymakers.
Climate Museum UK
Climate Museum UK is an experimental museum that curates and gathers responses to the Earth crisis. A collective of creatives from across the UK, the museum organises activations to help people play, create and talk about the crisis. It opens imaginations to possible futures, and builds skills to engage others with these issues.
Climate Outreach: Theory of change – creating a social mandate for climate action
A report setting out why broad-based public engagement in climate action is so important, and ways to achieve a strong social mandate.
Coalition of Museums for Climate Justice
An international network that aims to build museums’ capacity to promote awareness, mitigation and resilience in the face of climate change. The organisation has a range of free resources on its website.
Creative Carbon Scotland
Creative Carbon Scotland works with individuals, organisations and strategic bodies engaged across cultural and sustainability sectors to harness the role of culture in tackling the climate crisis. Through year-round work and one-off projects, it offers range of programmes supporting the development of artistic practices that address sustainability and climate change.
Culture Declares Emergency
A growing movement of people in arts and culture declaring a climate and ecological emergency. The movement pledges to tell truths, take action and seek justice.
Curating Tomorrow, a consultancy that works with museums to develop their response to the climate and environmental crises, has produced a series of free publications. Actions for Climate Empowerment was published in April 2022.
Fit for the Future
An environmental sustainability network that facilitates knowledge sharing and collaboration across organisations and sectors. The network’s website features a range of case studies.
Flow Associates: Culture Takes Action framework
Eight pathways to help cultural organisations plan their response to the Earth crisis. This post offers explanations of each pathway, and a link to download the full toolkit.
Happy Museum Project
The Happy Museum Project supports museum practice that places wellbeing within an environmental and future-facing frame, rethinking the role that museums can play in creating more resilient people, places and planet. Its website features a suite of resources and case studies.
The project has also produced a series of online conversations on the theme No Going Back.
Heritage Research Hub: Powering climate action through heritage policies, organisations, research and public programmes
A video exploring how cultural heritage institutions, researchers, practitioners, civil society actors and policymakers are responding to the climate emergency, and how might they achieve more integrated and radical action.
Museums for Climate Action
This project was developed as the AHRC Heritage Priority Area contribution to COP26, with an international competition in 2020 resulting in an exhibition at Glasgow Science Centre before and during COP26. The project developed the following resources:
- The Mobilising Museums for Climate Action toolkit to help museums to understand, plan, deliver and communicate climate action.
- A website with a range of inspirational concepts of possible museums, as well as links to organizations and networks, and other resources to support climate action.
- An open-access book, Reimagining Museums for Climate Action, which is an extended catalogue of the exhibition.
Museums & Climate Change Network
An international community of interest that shares ideas and inspiration about addressing the challenges of the climate crisis.
Museums for Future
An alliance that unites a global community of museum professionals and cultural institutions in the fight to remain below +1.5°C of global heating. The alliance lists actions and local groups on its website.
Our Collections Matter
Launched by the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (Iccrom), this project aims to accelerate, increase and amplify activity in support of sustainable development through use, development and conservation of heritage collections. It is aligned with the UN’s sustainable development goals and will provide practical tools and resources for collections-based institutions.
Be the change
Practical tools and resources
Cornwall Museums Partnership: Green Guide for Heritage Organisations
A guide containing quick, easy and low-cost actions for heritage organisations that want to tackle the climate crisis together. The guide has been researched, developed and produced by a group of emerging professionals who make up the Green Museums Collective.
Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios: Carbon Review Tool
This architectural practice has produced a free carbon review tool designed to estimate the whole life carbon of a building to inform decisions prior to detailed design. This makes potential carbon impacts clear to the client, architect and the design team from the outset of the process.
Gallery Climate Coalition: Carbon Calculator
The GCC aims to facilitate the decarbonisation of the visual art sector and promote zero-waste practices. It has created a free carbon calculator, as well as sustainability guidelines covering areas such as shipping, travel, packaging and materials, and NFTs and digital.
Historic England: Research magazine, climate change special issue
The magazine’s 2021 special issue presents some of the ways in which Historic England and partners are working to help better understand and respond to the challenges of the climate crisis.
InsightX: A guide to funding cultural institutions in the climate crisis
A guide to help institutions navigate fundraising and protect themselves against reputational damage from corporate sponsorship and fundraising, as well as donations and borrowing from private individuals.
International Institute for Conservation (IIC): Nothing is Stable
The IIC brought together members and colleagues around the world during Cop26 to produce this film showing the work of conservators from Sudan to Egypt, UK to India and Antarctica. It demonstrates both the peril our cultural heritage faces from the climate emergency, and the steps the conservation profession is taking to address it.
In addition, the April/May 2022 issue of News in Conservation focuses on sustainability and climate action in conservation.
Julie’s Bicycle is a non-profit mobilising the arts and cultural sectors to take action on the climate and ecological crisis. A range of resources are available on its website, including its guide for museums and heritage on taking creative climate action.
The organisation has also produced the Museums Environmental Framework resource, building on the environmental practice and leadership of a vital part of the UK’s cultural sector.
Julie’s Bicycle has also launched the Creative Climate Justice Hub, a dynamic library of climate justice resources curated for the arts and culture community.
Ki Culture is a global organisation dedicated to creating actionable steps to make culture and heritage a leader moving towards a sustainable future. Ki Books offers step-by-step guides on implementing sustainable changes within cultural practitioners’ day-to-day practices, themed on waste and materials, social sustainability and energy.
Local Government Association (LGA)
As councils work to deliver net zero carbon by 2050, the LGA has launched a climate change hub offering an overview of the support it offers, and relevant events, publications and examples of best practice.
The LGA has also published a sustainable procurement toolkit for commissioners, procurement practitioners and contract managers to help them deliver local environmental, economic and social priorities.
Museums Galleries Scotland: Climate action resources
Museums Galleries Scotland has developed a range of climate action resources, including case studies and toolkits.
A group for UK museums to exchange exhibition build items and other museum-specific materials for free in order to reduce the environmental footprint of the industry.
National Museum Directors’ Council (NMDC): Green Museums – Tackling the Climate Crisis
NMDC has produced a guide demonstrating the many different ways that museums are responding to the climate emergency. The report presents case studies from museums within the NMDC membership across three themes: research, public engagement and greening estates and operations.
NMDC’s recent conference, exploring how museums and galleries are responding to the climate and ecological crisis, can also be viewed online.
Roots & Branches
Roots & Branches is a collaboration between the Carbon Literacy Project, Museum Development England and Manchester Museum. It aims to train and certify 1,500 people from 300 museums as Carbon Literate over the next two years and give an opportunity for museums to converse, experiment and test new ideas for a more sustainable future.
One outcome of the Roots & Branches project is a carbon literacy toolkit for the museums sector, now available to all UK museums.
Sustainability in Conservation
Sustainability in Conservation (SiC) is a branch of Ki Culture dedicated to promoting environmental awareness and sustainable practices in conservation of cultural heritage. SiC coordinates research projects and provides tips and tricks and information to conservators looking to be more environmentally responsible in their daily work.
University of the Arts London (UAL): Collections Action Group
Staff working across UAL’s collections have formed a group to mobilise climate action. The group has collated resources for the museum and archive sectors on the collaborative platform Padlet, which can be hosted or updated on any website. The resources are listed under the following headings:
Strategies and statements
Arts Council England
ACE’s 2020-30 strategy, Let’s Create, embeds environmental responsibility as one of its four key investment principles. There is an Investment Principles Resource Hub that brings together all of the resources ACE has developed to help organisations embed the principles across their work.
- Essential read: Environmental Responsibility (Arts Council England)
- Investment principles: Environmental Responsibility (Arts Council England)
Arts Council England and the Design Council have produced a design guide for capital projects setting out the key principles for the development of cultural buildings. The guide features a chapter on sustainability.
Brunel Museum: Sustainability statement
A statement outlining the steps Brunel Museum is taking to tackle the climate emergency.
Dundee Museum of Transport: Case study of actions
The museum has an ambition to become Europe’s first fully carbon neutral transport museum, and has published a case study outlining the actions it is taking to achieve this.
Horniman Museum & Gardens: Climate and Ecology Manifesto
A manifesto outlining the museum’s platform for action and the steps it will take to mitigate against the climate and ecological emergency.
Leeds Museums & Galleries
Leeds Museums & Galleries has an Environmental Sustainability Policy, and also lists examples and ambitions setting out how it intends to meet Leeds City Council’s environmental policy challenges across all of its sites.
The museum also sets out the steps it took to put sustainable practice at the heart of its 2018 exhibition, Beavers to Weavers: The wonderful world of animal makers.
National Archives (UK)
To coincide with Cop26, the National Archives held an event exploring the role of archives and the cultural heritage sector in supporting sustainability. Recordings of the event are available online.
The National Archives has also published a sustainability and climate action statement outlining the work it has done on biodiversity, sustainability and awareness-raising.
National Trust: Climate hazards map
The National Trust has produced the first mapping tool of its kind that illustrates climate hazards at some of its significant sites and offers solutions on how to tackle them. The map plots the trust’s sites alongside existing data on climate change related events to understand how risk factors could change by 2060.
Natural History Museum: Strategy to 2030
The museum’s strategy sets out the part it will play in tackling the planetary emergency as a global, scientific and cultural institution.
Theatre Green Book
The Theatre Green Book creates a common sustainability standard for the UK theatre sector – many of the approaches outlined in the book may translate to other cultural institutions. Arts Council England is in the process of developing a similar resource specific to the museum sector.
The Shift Project: Implementing Digital Sufficiency series
The Shift Project is a French thinktank advocating the shift to a post-carbon economy. This ongoing series of reports sets out a vision for designing digital practices and infrastructures that are resilient and sustainable.
V&A: Sustainability Plan 2021-24
Led by the MA’s climate champion trustee Sara Kassam, the V&A launched its first dedicated sustainability action plan in 2021. The plan sets out the museum’s sustainability ambitions across three areas: place, people and programme.
Art and Ecology Now, Andrew Brown, Thames & Hudson, 2015
Artwash: Big Oil and the Arts, Mel Evans, Pluto Press, 2015
Bending the Curve: Climate Change Solutions, edited by V Ramanathan, University of California, 2019
Climate Change and Museum Futures, Fiona R Cameron and Brett Neilson, Routledge, 2017
Curating the Future: Museums, Communities and Climate Change, edited by Jennifer Newell, Kirsten Wehner and Libby Robin, Routledge, 2016
Environmental Sustainability at Historic Sites and Museums, Sarah Sutton, Natural History Book Service, 2015
Evolving Climate Change Policy and Museums, Henry McGhie, Museum Management and Curatorship, 2020, vol. 35, no. 6, pp. 653-662
Living with the Anthropocene, edited by Cameron Muir, Kirsten Wehner and Jenny Newell, NewSouth, 2020
Museum Activism, edited by Robert R Janes and Richard Sandell, Routledge, 2019
The Green Museum: A Primer on Environmental Practice, Second Edition, Sarah S Brophy and Elizabeth Wylie, AltaMira Press, 2013
The Sustainable Museum: How Museums Contribute to the Great Transformation, Christopher J Garthe, Routledge, available for preorder in November 2022
The Uncertainty Handbook, Adam Corner, Stephan Lewandosky, Mary Phillips and Olga Roberts, Bristol: Bristol University and Oxford: Climate Outreach, 2015
Head image from the Waste Age exhibition at the Design Museum, copyright Alexander Donka