It's almost Earth Day. Ask yourself this question: "What is my museum doing to lessen its impact on Mama Earth?" If the answer is, "not a whole lot," then read on! There's hope for your institution despite the fact that resources across the cultural landscape have been slashed and burned.
In fact, these economically slim times beg us to REpurpose and REuse existing items, yes? Why do materials have to be new anyway? In the museum biz, don't we LIKE old things? Why can't one label be printed on the verso of another? Why can't previously manufactured structures like cases be reused, retrofitted for different objects? Is it because we expect a certain presentation from museums, especially art museums, that would prohibit the use of recycled items? Or, is it a matter of complex conservation? Every object needs a case that's custom built for its size, weight, and humidity needs? All of these or none of these may be true, depending on the genetics of your institution, but just thinking about repurposing gently used items may start to shift the sands a little.
And, what if you could invite your constituents, your community to come out and help build your exhibit? Think of it as crowdsourcing your production and fabrication. Talk about creating a fan base! Put a call out to your community for x, y, or z items. When they bring it, they can help build it. We aren't naive here, there are only certain kinds of exhibitions where this would work. The Smithsonian can't invite the whole world to help rebuild the case for Dorothy Gale's ruby red slippers, but there are others scenarious that might lend themselves to group involvement--panel exhibitions, small-scale history shows, children's exhibitions, science and nature endeavors, and the list goes on.
We've got a couple of things cooking here at SITES that are worthy of a green nod: #1 Repurposing exhibit structures. Really. If it looked good for one exhibition, it will look fabulous for another. The decision for reuse comes very early however, so that the materials for your new exhibition are sized and configured accordingly. #2 Digital exhibitions. Seriously. Not just materials online. We're designing the exhibition (panels, labels, banners) and "shipping" it out via Google Docs. You download. You build. Our green project director dishes, "For SITES, 'going green' needed to entail not just the green message, but the green method. If we're going to talk about taking steps to reduce carbon footprints, for instance, we had to walk the walk!"
It's a green, green world out there. Check out our Green Revolution exhibition for more details.