In this session we explored how museums can connect with their communities to respond to the climate emergency with immediacy, reciprocity, creativity and fun – using shared and pop up spaces as places for encounter and connection. We investigated what might be gained by connecting the power of top down civic delivery with the energy of grassroots experimentation?

We heard the inspirational story of Think and Do, Camden a pop-up and online community space bringing people together to develop ideas and projects tackling the climate and ecological crisis – with input from Sue Sheehan (Camden Council), Farhana Yamin (Climate Change Lawyer & Camden Activist) and Debbie Bourne (Transition Kentish Town).

They explained how the council wanted to offer a new kind of leadership.  They were the first council in the UK to run a Climate Citizens Assembly and in doing this realised they needed to widenthe conversation and find a way to bring existing community groups together to work on tackling the climate crisis. So they opened a pop-up Think & Do community space for climate and eco-action in Kentish Town. 

The space aimed to give people in Camden the chance to take part in, run and grow activities that get people more involved in tackling the climate crisis. It was codesigned over just two weeks and ran for six weeks with over 80 activities delivered from which about 10 ideas were hacked into viable projects including: Camden forest, The Sustainers – Fix Fast Fashion, Library of Things, Put the park back into parking and Green Routes.

Watch a recording of the Think and Do presentation

We then heard from Bridget McKenzie co-founder of Culture Declares Emergency who spoke of the need for, and potential of, a holistic museum response to the cliamte and ecological emergency, sharing fascinating examples from the work of Climate Museum UK of which she founding director.

Finally we heard from Anna Bunney from the Learning and Engagment team at Manchester Museum about some of their ground-breaking work in response to declaring Climate Emergency including the co-created Rubbish Night at the Museum.

Watch a recording of Bridget and Anna’s presentations

Related resources shared during the session

Word of Mouth podcast on Talking about Climate Change on Radio 4

Coalition of Museums for Climate Justice

The Art of Invitation

The museum of Geography in Padua is trying to emotionally involving teachers in climate change by organizing field trips where the climate change is more dramatically visible, like the Alps glaciers which are melting. The idea is: you emotionally strike the teachers, they impact their students and the community at large.

A new exhibition ‘FORGE’ about the things that we have reconnected to during lockdown and how this can inspire a kinder future.

This session was part of the Happy Museum’s No Going Back Workshop series and the Season For Ex-Change.