The Horminam Museum and Gardens in south London has declared an ecological and climate emergency. In a statement, the museum pledged to place carbon reduction and environmental issues at the heart of its work.
“The Horniman is not yet as green as it could and should be, and we know there is more that we, as an organisation and as individuals, must do,” said Nick Merriman, the museum’s chief executive.
“This is core to our new mission which is that ‘the Horniman connects us all with global cultures and the natural environment, encouraging us to shape a positive future for the world we all share.’”
The declaration was timed to mark Earth Overshoot Day, which fell on 29 July this year. The day marks the point at which the human population has used more of nature’s resources than can be renewed in a whole year.
As part of the declaration, the museum has committed to several public-facing initiatives to inspire audiences by placing ecology and climate issues at the heart of its programming, introducing more planting schemes to encourage biodiversity, and encouraging visitors to consider their own environmental impact.
At an organisational level, the Horniman will renew its sustainability action plan, including a green travel plan for staff and visitors. It has also committed to switching to a green electricity tariff within the year, reviewing sustainable options for a greener gas supply, and will take a “green-first” approach as it launches a 10-year plan to redevelop its estate.
The museum joins a number of other cultural heritage institutions that have declared a climate emergency. Tate's recent declaration, which coincided with the opening of Olafur Eliasson’s latest exhibition in London, announced that it was committed to reducing its climate footprint by 10% by 2023.
Other institutions that have signed up to Culture Declares Emergency include: the Museums Association (MA), Happy Museum Project, the International Council of Museums UK, Julie’s Bicycle, People’s History Museum, the Sustainable Museums consultancy, Climate Museum UK and the Whitaker Museum.
In partnership with Climate Museum UK, Happy Museum Project and Julie’s Bicycle, Kids in Museums have launched a guide for museums to support children and young people to engage with the climate and ecological emergency.
Various museums around the UK are documenting the climate crisis through contemporary collecting projects. The Victoria and Albert Museum and the Cardiff Story Museum have recently acquired artefacts from the Extinction Rebellion protests to highlight the role of activism in responding to the climate breakdown.
Culture Declares Emergency will curate the free Festival of Change at the MA Conference and Exhibition in October.
This year’s conference takes place on 3-5 October and will explore the theme of Sustainable and Ethical Museums in a Globalised World. Book your tickets today.