Helping museums go green

Initiatives to help museums become more sustainable
Museums Association

Our sustainability consultation concluded that to go green, museums need stronger leadership, better advice and funding. But leadership is lacking and support is patchy and fragmented.

Click here to find out more about the consultation


In England, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport used to encourage and coordinate sustainability work by the key national culture sector bodies, but now seems to have reduced its commitment.

Read about DCMS and sustainability here

British Council

There’s a summary of a couple of dozen separate cultural sector climate change initiatives in Long Horizons, a report from the British Council.

Click here to read Long Horizons (pdf)

Other resources

There’s no national green museum schemes to help museums in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland but there are some things that can help you. 

East Midlands green museums guide

The Rural Museums Network carbon calculator 

East of England Renaissance hub green programmes

There are several other museum-specific initiatives, particularly ones looking at balancing conventional requirements to tightly control museum temperature and relative humidity with the need to reduce energy consumption.

You can find information about this work here [link to new page greening museum environmental control]

At the Museums Association, we tried to fundraise to fill the museum sector’s green advice and leadership gap, but with no success. In particular, we worked with most of the hubs to devise a way of joining up their green work to make it more efficient and spread the benefits more widely. However, MLA chose not to work with us to follow this work up.

With the hubs we had hoped to do some of the following:

· Appoint a sustainability specialist to be a central point of advice and expertise
· Provide training on varied aspects of sustainability
· Organise a national conference
· Create a green museums forum to bring together people working on museums and sustainability to share expertise and think strategically
· Develop fair trade and green procurement and retail, including work with suppliers of specialist museum equipment
· Produce a museum green suppliers directory
· Finalise sustainability principles for museums
· Collate and expand good practice guidance
· Disseminate regional work nationally, internationally where appropriate
· Analyse and collate the results of discrete projects
· Research practical installations of low-energy lighting
· Commission a carbon footprint of the whole museum sector
· Analyse existing museum carbon footprints and energy audits to draw general lessons

We also think it would be useful to:

· Explore the sustainability of temporary exhibitions
· Refurbish an existing museum in an old building to the highest green standard as a demonstration project
· Produce a national action plan for greening museums

Of course, all of these ideas need funding. There’s a growing recognition that sustainability is important for museums – but little joined-up support to help them move towards greener ways of working.

To find out what we have been doing to help museums, click here