In the immortal words of the 1995 jam by Montell Jordan, "This is How Do It," or if you prefer a more up-to-date musical reference, let's channel Katy Perry's 2014 "This is How We Do." In any case, this is how we do Earth Day at SITES.
First, there's Green Revolution, our eco-zibit that encourages visitors to think about energy consumption, conservation, and greening up their own lives. The great thing about this exhibition is that it actually practices what it preaches. All of the content affiliated with this traveling show is transmitted digitally--no trucks, no panels, no plastic packing. The goal of the Smithsonian exhibit is to have host venues think about recycling or upcycling discarded items as the means for presenting information. For example, how about an old door, the back of a previously used panel, or even cardboard for printing graphics? If museums aren't able to find items for reuse in their own attics, they've tapped into local community resources and the public for everything from bicycle parts to gardening supplies to fabrication help. At its core, the exhibition is about thinking creatively in our current environmental moment and turning refuse into something new. In this way, the exhibition has been a gateway for regional artists, who have done absolutely amazing things with everyday waste: Paint cans have become elegant wall art; hubcaps have been transformed into sculptures, bottle caps have been amassed to create exquisite street art. Check out a few of these green ideas on Pinterest and Flickr.
We've been thrilled with the response Green Revolution has gotten, and it's inspired us to think even bigger. Next year, our Museum on Main Street (MoMS) program will debut the Water Matters initiative, in concert with other Smithsonian museums. It's their most ambitious project to date and focuses on water as THE essential component of life on our planet--biologically, spiritually, and even historically. Just think about the role water has played in shaping American society. The availability of water affected settlement and migration patterns just as the control and distribution of water continue to mold political and economic policy today. Looking to the future, the exhibition also explores innovative ways of protecting water resources and renewing respect for the natural environment.
Water/Ways and H2O Today are two variations of the Museum on Main Street exhibition that the Smithsonian will debut in May 2016. Water/Ways is designed for small and rural museums and examines the relationships between people and water. H2O Today, geared toward museums in larger cities, dives into global water issues and water sciences.
Finally, we go from that macro perspective down to our own offices, dissecting the ways we reskin our own bits and pieces of equipment and ephemera. For starters, we pay it forward. The Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM) is reusing a number of our recycled TV monitors in their Watch This exhibit, about the intersection of art and technology. Generally speaking, reuse is preferable, right? It's economical and sustainable--that goes for exhibit hardware too.
We recently recast the metal structure from our archived White House Garden exhibition into a new support system for Patios, Pools & The Invention of the American Backyard. And, what about print? Since wasting good graphic design is a crime in some states, one of our partner museums remade the super-sized hanging banners from the Jim Henson's Fantastic World exhibition into way-cool tote bags, after clearing necessary image rights. What's the coolest way you've seen museums or other businesses reuse old materials? Tweet us @sitesExhibits! #GreenRevolution