At the end of April 2021, The Norwegian Museums Association, and the museums Tana and Varanger Museumssiida and Varanger Museum held the national museum meeting “In Borderland” [I grenseland].
The purpose of the museum meeting was to discuss various aspects of living in border countries, with the complex challenges that this sometimes entails. Divisive policies both within and outside national borders, geopolitics, discrimination, gender, identities, and diversity were among the topics discussed during the meeting.
Sustainability and the museums
The meeting also facilitated reflection and discussion on the topic of sustainability in the museums, during the session “Sustainable museum?” moderated and introduced by Morien Rees, Varanger Museum IKS.
How can the museums incorporate good routines for sustainable choices, both in the work with exhibitions and dissemination, and in the administrative day-to-day running of the museum? How can museums put global crisis on the agenda, and educate for global awareness? How can museums maintain balance between the needs of the local citizens and the tourists?
The museum’s role for a sustainable future: International and local perspectives
The session addresses the various issues that today’s museums face and reflects on the various practices and issues from both international and local museums.
From an international perspective, the founder of We Are Museums, Diane Drubay spoke about the museum’s fundamental role to help society change on a hyperlocal level. Museums have the possibility to educate and engage communities in to seek information, change and evolve. Michela Rota, author of Musei per la sostenibilità integrata [Museums for Integrated Sustainability] spoke on how Museums can Integrate sustainability in museum practices and engage in Agenda 2030.
Sustainability from a local viewpoint: The Sami Perspective
During the presentation “Sustainability from an Indigenous Perspective. Climate challenges seen from a local viewpoint”, Jorunn Jernsletten from the museum Deanu ja Várjjat Museasiida / Tana og Varanger Museumssiida, spoke about understanding the connection with creating something long-lasting from natural recourses in accordance with local condition in a community context. Balancing recourses as well as balancing human aspects integrity and maintain a balance between the needs of the local citizens and the tourists. She referred to the three main aspects on climate change: Climate and environment, economical justice, and social equality. To understand sustainability from the Sami perspective, the totality of these is essential. The Sami perspective rely on their tradition as a sustainable practice, as for example having alternative housings in the mountains used for fishing and hunting or how to make handmade shoes out of leather.
Today Tana og Varanger Museumssiida are working on a research project on harvesting natural resources. The project focuses on how the locals engage in the natural environment by harvesting cloudberries.
Read more about the preservation of Sami cultural heritage in a recently released report here (in Norwegian).
Sustainability within museum‘s daily life
The director of Kraftmuseet, Knut Markhus, presented the topic “Sustainability in our museum’s daily life”. The presentation addresses how museums can strengthen their focus on sustainability and environmental changes in programmes and exhibitions, work in correspondence with the ICOM’s resolution No. 1 “On sustainability and the implementation of Agenda 2030, Transforming our World”. The museum has focused on integrating sustainable practices into the daily running of the museum, by creating environmental guidelines on how the museum can reduce its consumption and make more sustainable decisions. By establishing organized working groups within the staff and choosing an environmental ambassador, who once a week reflects and evaluates how the museum follow the guidelines, the museum slowly implements sustainable practices into their workday.
Markhus also reflects on Kraftmuseets role as an Eco-Lighthouse [miljøfyrtårn], and how the museum addresses sustainability while working with hydro power. The exhibitions Kraftlandet and The Battle of Alta 2020 was used as examples for how museums can make their audience discuss and reflect on democracy, environmental changes, and civil disobedience in the spirit of the ICOM resolution.
Global awareness, a conceptional and experimental approach
In the presentation “Global awareness – Student’s encounters with the exhibition A World at Stake”, Sigurd Nielsen from ANNO, Glomdalsmuseet presented the results from his Ph.D thesis. The thesis focused on what characterizes young students’ experiences with the exhibition A World at Stake, and how these experiences can relate to students’ global awareness. Nielsen addresses how museums can be more attentive to critical issues like poverty and injustices. As a case for his research, Nielsen used the exhibition A world at Stake launched in 2009, by the museums Experimentarium (DK) and Jærmuseet (N), supported by DANIDA and NORAD.
The exhibition was designed as a game for students to actively participate to learn by a conceptional and experimental approach, with the main goal to introduce children and young students to global poverty and inequality (United Nations Millennium Development Goals). During the presentation, Nielsen present the results of the study and reflect on museums potential to address global challenges and educate for global awareness.