MA declares a climate emergency

Yosola Olorunshola, 11.04.2019
Committing to the ethical and sustainable future of museums
The Museums Association (MA) has pledged its support to Culture Declares Emergency (CDE) as part of its commitment to the ethical and sustainable future of museums.  

The CDE campaign launched on 3 April 2019 with more than 190 UK institutions and individuals from the arts and cultural sector joining together to declare a climate and ecological emergency.  

A disruptive and creative procession stopped traffic across Waterloo Bridge to highlight the need for immediate action on climate change. 

The launch also included a preview of Letters to the Earth, a series of written responses to the climate crisis that will be performed at arts venues across the UK on 12 April. The campaign comes at a significant time, as momentum builds for Extinction Rebellion – a grassroots rebellion intending to "shut down London" from 15 April until the UK government takes decisive action on climate change.  

The first wave of declarers includes Somerset House, Battersea Arts Centre, Cardboard Citizens, HOME in Manchester, Lyric Hammersmith Theatre, London National Park City, Royal Court Theatre, Jerwood Arts, The Junction (Cambridge), Invisible Dust, writer Jay Griffiths, director Peter Kosminsky and actor Tamaryn Paynea – with more and more organisations and individuals expressing their intention to declare.  

“The MA is signing up to Culture Declares Emergency because we recognise the significant role that museums can play in alerting the public to the threat to our natural environment and all of our futures,” said Sharon Heal, director of the Museums Association.

“Museums have a threefold role to play. We can use our natural history and science collections to highlight the impact of climate change; we can use our spaces to involve and activate our communities; and we can be greener ourselves. Museums are often in historic buildings, and collections care can consume a lot of energy – we need to have a serious conversation and take action to reduce our impact on the planet as institutions.

“There are lots of toolkits and guidance on how to do this and we need to take steps now, that’s why sustainability is a major part of this year’s MA conference theme.  We’ll have practical sessions on greening your museum as well as examples of how museums have worked with their communities to raise awareness and galvanise action and we’ll be encouraging all museums to take action on this critical issue.”

The theme of the Museums Association's annual conference 2019 is Sustainable and Ethical Museums in a Globalised World.