Brunel Museum responds to climate crisis - Museums Association

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Brunel Museum responds to climate crisis

London venue issues sustainability statement
Brunel Museum Roof Garden
Brunel Museum Roof Garden Jody Kingzett

A museum dedicated to the Brunel family and its role in the industrial revolution has issued a statement on its approach to tackling the climate emergency.

London’s Brunel Museum, which tells the story of how Marc Brunel and his son Isambard built the Thames Tunnel, issued the statement as part of Museum Carbon Stories, a social media campaign to support museums to become carbon literate and take action against climate change.

“It feels like there isn’t a better time for us to stand up publicly to share the work we’ve been doing behind the scenes to tackle and reverse the worst effects of the climate emergency,” said Katherine McAlpine, the director of the Brunel Museum.

“We’re proud of what we have achieved already but we recognise there is always more we can do. Climate consciousness is probably higher than it’s ever been, and now is the time to start using that engineering mindset to help people imagine a better future and find the solutions to get there – just like the Brunels did when they built the tunnel.”

The museum, which has one full-time member of staff, has highlighted four key areas of action in its sustainability: decarbonising the museum; working with existing and new partners to ensure values and priorities are aligned; using its platform to improve awareness of the climate emergency and what the solutions are; and maximising positive impacts of its Brunel Museum Reinvented redevelopment project.

The museum uses renewable energy on site, and no longer uses gas. It is encouraging staff to reduce consumption at home and at the museum. The museum’s recycling rate is 74%.

The Thames Tunnel was the world’s first tunnel built under a river. The museum displays are housed within the engine house, a Scheduled Ancient Monument. The adjacent 15-metre-deep tunnel shaft is Grade II* listed.

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