Wednesday, June 6, 2018

A so-called ''climate museum'' in NYC that does not exist yet and most likely never will (edited for amplification and clarity)

The team behind the project is hoping to open a 100,000-square-foot space, location still to be determined, in 2020, with the goal of attracting 1 million people a year—more than twice the number that turned out for last September’sPeople’s Climate March in New York.

in NYC can convince 
visitors to be better stewards 
of the climate — by appealing at once to 
their intellect and their emotions. But there is no real museum 
and PR fundraising. Read between the lines and ask hard

In early 2018, a small gallery at the Parsons School of Design in Lower Manhattan glowed with a bluish-green light. It emanated from an art installation by Peggy Weil titled 88 Cores, which consisted of a short film panning downward through two miles of Greenland's ice sheet, and a display of several scans of ice cores, some as old as 110,000 years, others as young as 30. The scans lined the gallery walls in chronological order, and, taken together, they depicted a frightening narrative: Greenland's ice sheet is melting, and its fractures have grown significantly larger over time. Overhead, a droning soundtrack by Los Angeles-based composer Celia Hollander hummed through the gallery speakers, adding to the show's overall effect, at once chilling and beautiful.
It also felt potentially persuasive. Here, presented as art, was clear and unsettling evidence that the Earth is warming. Can art like this help some people to see just how devastating climate change can be? That's the hope of former social justice lawyer, the founder and director of New York's unbuilt, unfunded and non-existant '' Climate Museum,'' which does not yet exist in a physical building, which neverthelss in a PR stunt ''hosted'' the exhibit.

The idea for such a museum came to the activist in 2012. That year, Hurricane Sandy hit New York City, where she was living at the time. The storm was of record proportions, flooding much of Lower Manhattan and making real in the minds of many New Yorkers just how devastating the effects of climate change could be. "After Sandy I knew I had to do something," she told a reporter in 2018 during lunch on Manhattan's Upper West Side.

[ A version of this story originally appeared in the May 2018 issue of a magazine whose editors went along with the ongoing PR "story".]
The unbuilt non-existant so-called ''Climate Museum''­­­— again, which does not exist in a physical space yet although whose board of trustees and staff plan to start looking maybe perhaps possibly in several years for a permanent home in New York City — would be, if it is ever built, only the second of its kind in the world (the first real one that does in fact exist is in Hong Kong). Its purpose, even though the building does not exist yet and therefore there is really no museum to speak of, the "founder" says, is to educate people about the effects of climate change through exhibits and public programs that appeal as much to emotion as to intellect. "One of the best trial lawyers I learned from when I was practicing civil rights law told me that the way to focus a jury's mind was through the heart," she says. "You have to create space for the major emotions—from fear and anger over to amusement, hope, and even love."

Scientific research supports this theory. Consider a recent study conducted by researchers Sabine Pahl and Judith Bauer. They presented participants with stories and slides about a woman suffering from the negative effects of climate change. Some of the participants were asked to imagine themselves as the woman, an action that helped them empathize with her situation, while others were asked to view her circumstances more analytically. Afterwards, those who imagined themselves in the woman's shoes were more likely to pick up educational materials about climate change.

"There's no evolutionary reason for us to be able to comprehend the scale of [climate change]," the museum "founder" says during  a PR lunch with a reporter. That's why Peggy Weil's work, she says, is so important: "The museum-to-be  has to create space for strong feelings and recognize that [those feelings] are a primary pathway into climate engagement. We saw that with [Weil's] exhibition. Visitors described themselves as feeling emotions including awe and an intense sense of responsibility."

NOTES from 2017 interview:
MAGALIE LAGUERRE-WILKINSON: When we say "museum," we are thinking of a physical place, that there is actually a structure where you go in and check in and maybe pay a fee or something. But your museum is actually not a traditional museum yet. Tell me about it.
MIRANDA MASSIE: Not yet. We have a developmental process, and we are still really quite early on. We are only a couple of years in. We will be launching our first exhibitions quite soon, in fact, and we have started running public programs, discussions, and panels—we are launching a panel series—but eventually we will work our way through a laboratory interim space and then to a permanent museum space.

2015 PR set up and interview profile in the NYT link:


In person, the activist is bullish about the museum’s prospects, even though, again, it does not even exist: "People are hungry for an institution like this," she says. But in order to start a "new kind of climate civil action, we need to create a space where diverse voices can enrich each other and grow together."
The reporter at lunch tried to picture the denialists walking through 88 Cores at Parsons, and asks whether they would be welcome in such a museum should it ever exist in a real physical space. The ''founder'' sighs. "They can come to the museum or not, but I’m tired of watching people try to argue with them in the public sphere." I ask how we should interact with them, and she takes a moment to stir her tea before answering. "We don't," she says finally. "It's time we give them the silent treatment."


Hong Kong climate change museum puts on a show

By Our Contributing Reporter in 2015

The first climate change museum in Asia is located in building on the campus of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and it's become a model museum for climate activists and art curators around the world hoping to build similar exhibitions in Europe, North America and the Middle East.
​Could it
 happen in Taiwan, 
​too? But while a 
climate museum in Taipei or Taichung would be a good idea, if funds could be raised either from the private sector or the central government,
​ ​
it would be 
to study how the Hong Kong museum has 
The Jockey Club Museum of Climate Change, as
​it is formally
 known, opened its doors in 2013, and its goal, according to program director Cecilia Lam
 is to raise awareness of man-made global warming as an educational field trip venue for school children in the former British colony.
"Stories of personal experience are a powerful medium of communication and learning," Lam says. " Our museum has adopted a storytelling approach to take visitors on a journey to the polar areas, as well as to observe and learn the impacts of global warming and see for themselves what scientists and the local community have been doing to help mitigate climate change."
The goal of the museum, according to Lam, is to prod visitors, be they adults or young people, "to ponder their individual responsibility for leaving a sustainable world for future generations."
A U.S. lawyer and climate activist, Miranda Massie, recently flew to Hong Kong to visit the climate museum there, hoping to find ways to bringing her own vision to fruition in New York, where she has set up the Climate Museum

Launch Project and is currently raising funds and finding an architect to design the place.
With climate change issues in the news on a daily basis now, from a major drought in California to water shortages facing the public (and farmers) in Taiwan, climate museums will likely find a place in countries around the world. But it will take curators with vision and perseverance to build such exhibitions halls, and patience for the long haul of fund-raising will be key.

However, not everyone thinks climate museums can do much to raise the level of global warming awareness. Jonathan Jones, a British art critic writing in the Guardian recently, said that in general museums around the world need to ''stop dumbing down science and start putting education before entertainment.''
"How can a museum deal with [man-made global warming] in a way that is genuinely informative, intelligent, honest and accessible without being patronizing? " Jones asked. "The Science Museum in London has notably failed to do so. Its Atmosphere gallery manages to patronize visitors of all ages. Poorly conceived interactive displays turn climate issues into a bad computer game."
While the growing number of climate museums around the world, from Berlin to Hong Kong, are good ideas on paper, they also need to find a way to teach basic science, he said.
"Only a scientifically-literate public will ever be ready to face the facts about climate change," Jones said.

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