How to design exhibitions with a lower environmental impact
Author: Tim Deakin
MuseumNext invited the Design Museum’s Head of Exhibitions and Environmental Impact Lead, Elise Foster Vander Elst, and Alexie Sommer of the URGE Collective to share how they are driving change by developing exhibits with environmental responsibility in mind. In her work at London’s Design Museum, Elise Foster Vander Elst oversees the delivery and production of ten exhibitions and displays each year. However, the changing priorities of the museum in recent times has led her to focus her attention not just on the quality of the exhibitions but also their impact on an environmental level. Working in conjunction with URGE – a collective of designers and creative practitioners working with leaders in business and society to improve our response to the climate crisis and drive meaningful change – the museum embarked on a comprehensive journey to assess everything from materials to construction methods to administrative processes. Alexie adds, “The museum had a solid energy strategy in place before work began on this project (it has a 100% renewable electrical supply and shares in a district heating scheme). Not all institutions will have a renewable energy supply and an advanced battery storage facility like the Design Museum does, of course. But when we think about exhibition-specific carbon emissions, those Scope 3 supply chain emissions come much more to the fore – from contractors, designers, transportation, etc.