Int. Workshop "Curating Climate. Museums as 'contact zones' of climate research, education and activism"

WHEN: October 28-29th 2019

WHERE: Klimahuset / University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway

WHO: People working in the museum and heritage sector, researchers, artists, activists and policy makers. 


How do we narrate climatic change in a museum environment and initiate dialogue across its stakeholders? How can museums become ‘contact zones’ where science and education, activism and entertainment, debate and tourism interact productively? 

Various cultural institutions have recently taken up the challenges of communicating climate change and engaging with their communities. They range from established museums to new, emerging and experimental spaces. All attempt to promote debate and tell the stories we desperately need to connect scientific results to human lifeworlds. Climate change is a complex phenomenon that crosses the register of nature and culture. Its ecological, cultural and technological impacts connect the global and the local. The importance of addressing climate breakdown in a global perspective reflecting the different challenges facing different regions makes museums revisit their collections, exhibition designs and expert networks as well as develop their cross-societal appeal. Under these challenging terms, they could provide a readymade infrastructure for climate change communication and co-creation as spaces for the intersection of climate research, dissemination and activism.

This workshop will explore the emerging, dynamic and transgressive field of the ‘climate museum’. It will trace a unique and highly interdisciplinary space of encounter that connects the sciences and the humanities, academic and public spheres, research and action. What are the competences museums need to develop in order to engage with the multiscalar and complex phenomenon? Do we need new institutions or are established museums capable of rethinking their approaches and use their resources to foster understanding and action to engage with the global environmental crisis? Should the focus be on the sustainable development goals, the Agenda 2030, climate change or even the Anthropocene? The workshop will initiate cross-sectoral collaboration within and beyond the museum sphere. It is aimed at people working in the museum and heritage sector, researchers, artists, activists and policy makers. It will engage a wide variety of approaches in museum theory and practice for competence building. It strives to make museums key actors in promoting understanding and action to climate change. Confirmed key speakers are: Henry McGhie (Manchester) and Molly Fannon (Washington). 

We invite contributions to areas such as:

  • Exhibiting/Narrating climate change

  • Collecting climate

  • Anthropocenic museum practices

  • Bridging science, activism and education

  • Aesthetic, didactic, and material strategies

  • Contact and conflict zones of climate/museums

  • Co-creation in multi-stakeholder environments

  • Curating for societal change

  • Climate - a challenge for new or old museums?

Organisers: Prof Brita Brenna (University of Oslo), Prof Dominik Collet (Oslo School of Environmental Humanities), Torkjell Leira (Klimahuset Oslo), Morien Rees (ICOM group sustainability and museums), Bergsveinn Thorsson (University of Oslo)



 The international workshop will take place in Oslo new Klimahuset and is free of charge. Subject to pending funding agreements, travel grants might be available for some applicants. Please send your one-page summary of your presentation and short CV by 15th August 2019 to:


August 15th 2019