Cultural Institutions as Ambassadors for Climate Change

Preserve the heritage, protect the planet.

From: PARTNER C+P | 11.10.2023

Cultural institutions are more than just preservers of artistic and historical treasures – they are social and educational hubs, significantly shaping public discourse and thus assuming an ambassadorial role for climate change.

Cultural institutions have always been mirrors of society and engines of change. Throughout history, museums, theaters, libraries, and others have often served as centres of enlightenment and social progress. They are places where people gather to learn, reflect, and discuss. From the Renaissance to the Enlightenment, and into the digital era, cultural institutions have always played a pioneering role in the dissemination of knowledge and new ideas.

In a time when climate change represents one of the greatest global challenges, they take on a new key role: They can stimulate changes in behaviour and thinking that are indispensable for implementing a sustainable future.


The Crucial Role of Cultural Institutions in Climate Change.

Cultural institutions enjoy public trust and reach a wide audience, making them ideal intermediaries in matters of climate change and environmental protection. They have the potential to raise awareness and initiate a discourse that extends beyond the walls of their facilities. In their role as public institutions and places of innovation, they have a unique opportunity to influence and inspire society through their actions, exhibitions, and programs. However, this role also comes with great responsibility.

What can cultural institutions do?

In practical terms, there are a number of measures that cultural institutions can take to promote energy efficiency and sustainable materials management:

  • Energy efficiency

Sustainable materials management begins with the conscious selection of materials for exhibitions and daily operations. Materials with a low ecological footprint, such as recyclable components and renewable resources, should be preferred. Reusing and recycling exhibition elements are not only ecologically sensible but can also enrich the history and narrative potential of an exhibition. Reducing single-use products, for example by using reusable materials in the museum café or shop, also contributes to sustainable operations.

  • Sustainable Materials Management

Die nachhaltige Materialwirtschaft beginnt mit der bewussten Auswahl von Materialien für Ausstellungen und den täglichen Betrieb. Materialien mit einem geringen ökologischen Fußabdruck, wie recycelbare Komponenten und nachwachsende Rohstoffe, sollten bevorzugt werden. Wiederverwendung und Recycling von Ausstellungselementen sind nicht nur ökologisch sinnvoll, sondern können auch die Geschichte und das narrative Potenzial einer Ausstellung bereichern. Die Reduzierung von Einwegprodukten, beispielsweise durch den Einsatz wiederverwendbarer Materialien im Museumscafé oder im Shop, trägt ebenso zu einer nachhaltigen Betriebsführung bei.

  • Education and Engagement:

Educational programs and interactive exhibitions that enlighten about sustainable practices are essential for engaging visitors. They can help raise awareness and motivate visitors to take action themselves. Cultural institutions can serve as a source of information and inspiration, making the topic of sustainability tangible through creative approaches.

It is a process.

These approaches are just a glimpse of the diverse ways in which cultural institutions can integrate sustainability into their everyday life. It is a dynamic process that requires creativity and commitment, and there are always new ideas and innovations to consider.

The time to act is now. Cultural institutions have not only the opportunity but also the duty to take a leading role in addressing the climate crisis. By rethinking their practices and actively engaging their audience, they can become beacons of change. They stand at the intersection between the past and the future and have the power to shape the narrative of climate change and contribute to positive change in our society. Let’s seize this opportunity to embark on a sustainable path together, leaving a liveable world for future generations.

If you want to learn more about energy efficiency and sustainable materials management, or gain an initial understanding of the steps you can take with your institution, contact us!