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ViVA in Boston: Alliance of American Museums (AAM) Conference

On May 20th, ViVA’s Executive Director and Chief Curator Natalie Marsh, co-chaired a conference session at the annual meeting of the Alliance of American Museums (AAM) with Joyce Lee, Chair of the Environment and Climate Network for AAM and Founder/Director of the Green Museum Consortium.


Session participants included Dr. Timothy Carter, President of Second Nature, who shared a brief introduction to history and focus of his organization’s efforts to coordinate commitments, measurement, and tracking of higher education institutions in their efforts to reach net zero emissions. Timothy explained how Second Nature works with signatory schools to collect and publicly report data connected to each institution’s drawdown efforts.


Kristina Durocher, President of the Association of Academic Museums & Galleries (AAMG) and Executive Director of the University of New Hampshire Museum of Art, discussed AAMG’s focus on sustainability for its June 2022 annual conference. In addition, she outlined how her own museum worked effectively with on-campus sustainability staff and non-art faculty to produce effective climate change contemporary art exhibitions. Kristina also showcased the use of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals to help guide her museum’s programs and exhibitions.


Daryl Lawrence, Museum Facility Manager for the Bell Museum of Natural History at the University of Minnesota, narrated the many award-winning strategies his institution undertook during the pandemic to reduce energy consumption, transition cleaning and maintenance practices to greener alternatives, and collaborate with an area raptor center and bee lab to ensure careful consideration of waste management, public safety and health, and pest management on its outdoor learning landscape surrounding the museum’s building.


Joyce outlined how the Environment and Climate Network of AAM develops webinars and programs to educate and distribute knowledge about sustainability and resilience to museum professionals around the world. In her role as the founder of the Green Museum Consortium, she discussed the possibilities to reduce costs and increase efficiency through collaborative purchasing and resource sharing across multiple museums.


Finally, Natalie introduced ViVA to the session’s audiences and noted the many ways that the museum sector can better share its expertise and resources through efforts like ViVA, which coordinates the experience and expertise of museum educators and great contemporary artists to create effective public programs for museums, galleries, other cultural organizations, K-12 learning pods and schools, member programs and alumni groups, and retirement communities, among others.


In closing, the panelists called on the museum sector to learn from the higher education sector, which has been very proactive and centrally coordinated in working with institutions to undertake decarbonization across its operations and educate its internal and external constituents about climate change and sustainability.


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