Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

News

Net-zero Picasso: Museums rethink art shows to cut climate impact

THE PALAIS des Beaux-Arts has a new exhibition, “The Magic Forest,” that recycles 70% of the scenography and staging from an earlier Goya exhibit. One of the ways the museum achieved this was by reusing a “rotunda” room in the lobby that was designed to be multi use. — INSTAGRAM.COM/PBALILLE/

By Joanna Gill

BRUSSELS — When coronavirus forced some of France’s busiest museums to close their doors in 2020, it was a rare chance for reflection.

Curators’ conversations during lockdowns centered on the question: “What kind of world do we want to live in post-pandemic?,” said Julie Narbey, director of the Centre Pompidou in Paris, which houses Europe’s largest modern art collection.

Ms. Narbey said her team concluded over video calls that the pandemic was the “moment to step up a gear on the environment.”

“It’s in our DNA to tackle the big questions of the modern world,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

This prompted a rethink of how to cut the carbon footprint of exhibitions — from recycling staging and extending the length of major shows to scaling back on overseas loans of artworks.

Such measures appear to be a win-win for museums as they not only slash emissions but can reduce costs.

That is crucial for a part of the economy hit hard by coronavirus restrictions, according to the International Council of Museums. It can also help museums avoid growing criticism for accepting sponsorship of exhibits from fossil fuel companies.

The art world has been lagging behind other industries when it comes to addressing greenhouse gas emissions, said Sarah Sutton, head of Environment and Culture Partners, a US nonprofit NGO advising cultural bodies on sustainability.

“Fortunately, the sector is finally recognizing that it is late to the party, which means we’re finally seeing great interest in these changes,” she said.

Several initiatives have been launched in the past few years — in Europe and the United States — from carbon calculators to consultations and audits of galleries’ efforts to go greener.

“For me, it’s not a question how long will it take but how quickly can we accelerate it,” said Ms. Sutton.

While she said she was “hugely optimistic,” she stressed that more must be done to raise awareness among funders and donors of art museums’ work to become more sustainable.

There has long been an assumption that museums’ climate impacts are too small to warrant change, or art directors equate climate with politics and fear this may hurt funding, she said.

HOME IS WHERE THE ART ISParis is home to three of the world’s most-visited art museums: the Louvre, Musee d’Orsay and Centre Pompidou.

In a normal year they welcome millions of visitors, mostly from overseas — producing a substantial carbon footprint.

While there is little museums can do to reduce air travel by tourists, they can cut back on the flights a Warhol or Picasso makes, said Guergana Guintcheva, a professor of marketing at Lille’s EDHEC Business School who has carried out research on museums.

One of the main sources of exhibition carbon emissions comes from transporting artworks from collections around the world, according to the Galleries Climate Coalition (GCC), a global charity providing sustainable guidelines for the art sector.

“For every artwork, there is round-trip air travel — and at least two round-trip journeys for a curator,” said Ms. Guintcheva.

She cited Lille’s Palais des Beaux Arts as having taken a climate-conscious approach with its recent Goya exhibition.

By prioritizing works in its permanent collection and pieces located in neighboring European countries, the museum cut down on freight transport for the art it displayed.

The Centre Pompidou is also focusing on sourcing local artworks rather than taking loans from the United States or Asia.

Some museums are also making exhibitions greener by pooling resources.

Ms. Narbey of the Centre Pompidou said shipping requests can be shared with the Louvre or Musee d’Orsay for transport from the same locations, such as New York, cutting both emissions and costs.

The GCC last month launched its “Sustainable Shipping Campaign” —  calling for an overall reduction in air freight by 2028, and local deliveries to be low or zero emissions by 2025.

LESS IS MORECurators are used to creating blockbuster shows including 150 to 200 works, but sustainability advocates say those could be scaled back.

Staging a show requires a large amount of carbon-intensive materials, which are often thrown out at the end of the run. More museums are now seeking to recycle where possible.

At the Centre Pompidou, parts of the staging for the 2020 show “Christo and Jeanne-Claude” were reused in last year’s Hito Steyerl exhibition at the request of the artist.

“She admired Christo and she was interested to follow in their footsteps, but she also wanted, like us, to have a smaller carbon footprint,” said Ms. Narbey.

In Lille, the Palais des Beaux-Arts has a new exhibition, “The Magic Forest,” that recycles 70% of the scenography and staging from the Goya exhibit.

One of the ways the museum achieved this was by reusing a “rotunda” room in the lobby that was designed to be multi use.

Slowing down is also part of the green ethos at some French museums. Extending the duration of major exhibitions instead of having a high turnover of shows can reduce carbon emissions.

This may also prove popular with visitors to the Centre Pompidou who sometimes complain when shows only last three months, Ms. Narbey said.

Yet the public appears largely unaware of museums’ efforts to cut emissions, said Ms. Guintcheva, noting that many people paid little attention to the sustainability notices at the Goya exhibit.

Ms. Sutton of Environment and Culture Partners said tackling climate change was still not a key selling point for many members of the public.

“I see it as matter of credibility more than of visitor attraction, and credibility matters to the funders, policy makers, and community members,” said Ms. Sutton, who previously held various museum roles and taught at universities on the topic.

“Museums and galleries are public benefit organizations. This requires them to do no harm,” she added.

“‘Do no harm’ is a definitive, not a comparable.” — Thomson Reuters Foundation

Your information is secure and your privacy is protected. By opting in you agree to receive emails from us. Remember that you can opt-out any time, we hate spam too!

Latest

News

PHILIPPINE STAR/ MICHAEL VARCAS WASHINGTON D.C. — The United States is seeking to form a coalition of countries to drive negotiations on a global...

News

Buildings are seen along EDSA in Quezon City. — PHILIPPINE STAR/ MIGUEL DE GUZMAN By Diego Gabriel C. Robles  THE WORLD BANK (WB) upgraded...

News

Heavy traffic is seen on the southbound lane of EDSA in Cubao, Quezon City. — PHILIPPINE STAR/ MIGUEL DE GUZMAN THE PHILIPPINE auto industry’s...

News

REUTERS THE BANGKO SENTRAL ng Pilipinas (BSP) may deliver a second off-cycle rate hike in early November when the US Federal Reserve is expected...

News

Vendors arrange their goods at a public market in Manila. — PHILIPPINE STAR/ RUSSEL A. PALMA THE ASIAN Development Bank (ADB) is planning to...

Editor’s Pick

With the reversal of the 1.25% rise in National Insurance Contributions happening on the 6th of November, employers across the nation have an opportunity...

You May Also Like

News

BW FILE PHOTO GROSS BORROWINGS by the National Government reached P2.6 trillion as of end-September as it continued to raise funds to respond to...

News

KARASOLAR.COM TENA, Ecuador — Ecuador’s rainforest Achuar people say their ancestors long dreamed of a “fire canoe” or “electric fish” that would let them...

News

REUTERS By Luz Wendy T. Noble, Reporter The country’s foreign exchange buffers slightly increased as of end-October as the value of the central bank’s...

News

COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the mental health of Filipinos across different groups all over the archipelago. From frontline workers, parents balancing...

Disclaimer: Respect Investment.com, its managers, its employees, and assigns (collectively "The Company") do not make any guarantee or warranty about what is advertised above. Information provided by this website is for research purposes only and should not be considered as personalized financial advice. The Company is not affiliated with, nor does it receive compensation from, any specific security. The Company is not registered or licensed by any governing body in any jurisdiction to give investing advice or provide investment recommendation. Any investments recommended here should be taken into consideration only after consulting with your investment advisor and after reviewing the prospectus or financial statements of the company.

Copyright © 2022 Respect Investment. All Rights Reserved.