Nurturing Sustainability in Highland Museums: A Climate Ambassador’s Journey

Aila, female in her late 20s with a golden coloured dog sitting ona ruined croft house with grass and plants around her

We hear from Aila Schäfer on her journey as one of our MHH Climate Ambassadors:

Embarking on a six-month journey as a Climate Ambassador with Museums and Heritage Highland has been an interesting and insightful experience. Our mission is clear: to support museums across the Highlands in implementing environmentally sustainable practices. But how can we tackle such a big project in only six months? This blog post will delve into the process, progress we made so far, and our hopes and expectations for the outcome of this important project.

The Challenge:
Navigating the path towards environmental sustainability poses a considerable challenge for our independent Highland museums, especially those with limited resources, as addressing sustainability may seem overwhelming. Factors such as limited staffing, insufficient project funding, and the fear of venturing into uncharted territories can create barriers.

However, the importance of becoming more sustainable is accentuated by the contemporary call for funders to incorporate sustainability practices in their strategies and application processes. This adds a new layer of significance to the pursuit of environmentally friendly practices, making it not just a moral obligation but a strategic imperative for museums seeking financial support and longevity.

Despite the size or constraints each museum faces, tackling these challenges head-on is crucial and making a positive impact is achievable for every institution. As educational institutions, dedicated to serving communities, we bear a responsibility to ensure that our collections will be preserved for generations to come in the most sustainable and environmentally friendly way. This commitment holds true regardless of the size or potential obstacles faced by our museums.

Climate Ambassador Training:
As a Climate Ambassador, I have actively participated in Ki Futures training sessions, immersing myself in a wealth of resources, including books, articles, and engaging video sessions. The monthly one-on-one meetings with our mentor have proven invaluable, guiding me through the large field of sustainability in museums. Together with my fellow climate ambassadors and our mentor, we have designed a comprehensive questionnaire for participating museums, which helps us to establish a foundational baseline for their sustainability journey.

The training program, has been instrumental in shaping our approach, as it offers a blend of theoretical insights and practical applications, providing foundational knowledge for developing a profound understanding of sustainability.

The guidance and materials provided during these training sessions have proven very beneficial, imparting structure our project, boosting the confidence of us ambassadors, enabling us to navigate this important initiative.

Progress and Expectations:
Our work involves creating tailored action plans and sustainability statements for each participating museum, drawing insights from their feedback. These resources will become part of the MHH resource bank, fostering a sustainable legacy beyond the project’s lifespan. It’s inspiring to witness the different measures already taken by Highland museums and we recognise the vast potential for further progress.

By distilling the information from our training sessions, combined with the specific needs and aspirations of each museum, we aim to provide practical, actionable steps that contribute to their long-term sustainability goals. The aim is for all participating museums, to be able to create their own personal roadmaps that address the unique challenges and opportunities each institution faces, based on our action plans.

A key aspect of our strategy is to ensure the longevity and accessibility of these resources. Therefore, we will finish the project with a toolkit for the Museums and Heritage Highland (MHH) resource bank. This repository will serve as a valuable archive for future initiatives.

It is inspiring to witness the commitment and innovation displayed by Highland museums in their current sustainability measures. From adopting energy-efficient practices to engaging their communities, many institutions are already making meaningful strides. The diversity of initiatives undertaken emphasises the potential for further progress and sets the stage for a shift towards sustainability within our Highland Museum community.

Sustainable Museums: Small Steps, Big Impact:
In the face of the urgent climate crisis, cultural institutions, including museums, are called upon to adopt sustainable practices. The magnitude of climate change necessitates a collective response, and even small steps taken by our museums in the Highlands can have a profound impact. By implementing simple yet effective measures, we can lower emissions, reduce waste, and demonstrate to our communities that sustainability is an achievable goal.

From embracing LED lighting solutions, which are known for their energy efficiency, to hosting zero-waste events, museums have the power to transition into green entities without undergoing drastic overhauls. These initiatives not only align with broader environmental goals but also serve as tangible examples of the positive influence cultural institutions can exert on environmental awareness.

Being one of three Climate Ambassadors with Museums and Heritage Highland has been a great journey so far, marked by challenges, growth, and networking with other professionals with a commitment to sustainability. Reflecting on the progress made and the path ahead, it becomes evident that the significance of this endeavour extends beyond our immediate goals.
As we conclude this journey in less than two months, the goal is not just to mark the completion of a project but to leave behind a sustainable legacy. The toolkit we are developing for the MHH resource bank will ensure the longevity and accessibility of the resources created. It is our hope that this collective effort, locally driven yet globally resonant, will contribute to a more sustainable and resilient future for Highland museums.

This project is supported by Museum Galleries Scotland Forum’s Fund with thanks to National Lottery Players.

One thought on “Nurturing Sustainability in Highland Museums: A Climate Ambassador’s Journey

  • 8 February, 2024 at 2:58 pm

    Mòran taing airson a’ dèanamh seo.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *