Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Green Revolution – SITES’ Green Path for a Traveling Exhibit

It’s my dream com true: an exhibit in a PDF, with a guide to green community engagement.
Well, not exactly just a PDF, but darned close.

The staff at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago (MSI) together with the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) have combined the scientific sustainability content you crave for your audience, with a reduce-reuse-recycle exhibit-installation philosophy that makes Green Revolution affordable, very low-carbon, and just the ticket for involving your audience in making green changes.

Here’s how it works:

1) You license part or all of the exhibit (total cost up to $5,000…eminently fundable by a community grant). This gives you access to all the design materials, guidebooks, and support you need. You can choose among five topics: waste, energy, greening your home, carbon footprint, and composting/gardening.
2) With your staff and volunteer partners, read all the materials and view installation photographs, talk with the SITES staff, and then start planning your personalized version of Green Revolution.
3) Collect ‘found’ materials (a few optional interactives have small cash costs)
4) Use the exhibit-build process as a museum outreach activity
5) Follow suggestions for, or make up your own, programs and activities to help your audience learn about sustainability and make greener choices.
6) When you choose to end the exhibit, you can repurpose the materials or recycle them.

Then you and your community work together to create the exhibit your way and with your community situation in mind. Here on the Chesapeake Bay, we would probably focus on watershed impact factors such as not fertilizing the lawn, keeping roads clean to reduce nutrient build-up in the rivers, and reducing energy or using alternative sources so we don’t build a power line across the Bay. I can see having the Boy & Girl Scouts, 4-H, the Maritime Museum, and Adkins Arboretum all working with the River Keepers to create a community exhibit out of materials collected through Scouting activities and our Habitat for Humanity’s new ReStore. There is no shipping, no packaging, no big notebooks of installation instructions, and no changes to your spaces. Now that’s green, and that’s creative.

What kind of museum should do this? Any kind.

Obviously Science and Nature and Children’s museums are naturals, so are Zoos and Aquariums, Gardens and General museums. There are all kinds of cool options for Art and History museums. Think what you could do using art in your collection to illustrate these themes, or what a great backdrop your historic house would be for the energy and home sections. For many, it would be a great way to engage a new audience with a new message and experience.

And you can have faith that it works. The MSI folks premiered it, and the Bob Jones Nature Center in Texas tested it. SITES hopes to present at AAM on its experience. In the meantime, check it out at

Let Green Revolution help you with your public engagement, while letting your audience know that your community’s health is important to you.

Just like the SITES materials say: “Green Revolution is more than an exhibition, it’s an event and experience for your entire community.”

Photo courtesy Smithsonian: In Southlake, Texas, the average daily water consumption per capita is 290 gallons. For their version of Green Revolution, the Bob Jones Nature Center displayed this surprising community stat by hanging 300 cleaned gallon milk jugs from a tree.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Sarah,
    Thanks so much for covering this exhibition! I'm the editor on the show and learned a great deal about going green myself--lessons to live by!