Four projects shortlisted for excellence in environmental sustainability

Four projects shortlisted for excellence in environmental sustainability

A brightly lit room with an exhibition including paper sculptures of birds and information panels
A World of Good exhibition
Low-carbon renovations and exhibitions featuring recycled materials and strong environmental messages recognised in this year's Museums + Heritage Sustainable Project of the Year shortlist.

For the third year running, we have partnered with the Museums + Heritage Awards to sponsor the sustainability category. Four entries that demonstrated outstanding environmental sustainability practices in 2021 are in the running to win – you can see the list below.

The projects represented on this year’s shortlist have demonstrated resilience, creativity and an appetite to evolve and to respond to change. 

Anna Preedy, Director of Museums + Heritage

The annual Museums + Heritage awards are a celebration of museums, heritage and cultural organisations across the UK. The Sustainable Project of the Year category showcases best practice in running environmentally-sustainable projects or exhibitions. 

In November last year, we announced that, for the first time in 2022, there will be up to two winners of this award:

  1. one which has used simple, affordable and easily transferable approaches
  2. one which has delivered an environmentally sustainable capital project

We expanded the award to inspire and motivate projects of all sizes to ‘think sustainably’.

Anna Preedy, Director of Museums + Heritage, said: “Whilst the last two years have without doubt been challenging, it is inspiring to see how the world of museums and heritage has risen to the challenge, has innovated and evolved. The projects represented on this year’s shortlist have demonstrated resilience, creativity and an appetite to evolve and to respond to change. They represent the very best of the best.”

The Museums + Heritage Sustainable Project of the Year Award shortlist

Wright and Wright: Museum of the Home renovation

Wright and Wright worked with Museum of the Home to renovate and expand its 300-year-old, Grade I listed venue in London, with no overall increase in the building’s energy requirements.

The low-carbon works included: insulating roofs and floors, replacing heating and electrics, and digging down to create new gallery space in the lower ground floor. They built only two new pavilion extensions, one of which is fitted with a 'green' roof, planted with climate-resilient and low water planting.

The project was successful in sustainably re-using and retrofitting the existing buildings, while still preserving the rich history of the site for generations to come.

A roof ontop of the museum's new build, containing grass, plants, gravel and concrete paving
The new pavilion's green roof, extending the existing gardens. Credit: Museum of the Home

Discovering42: Reimagining Reality exhibition

The Reimagining Reality exhibition aimed to inform, inspire and empower visitors to respond to the problems of waste and how it contributes to climate change.

Created by Discovering42, a Cornwall-based creative events company, the exhibition is a pilot for a community-led arts, science and sustainability hub in Cornwall. It features an immersive space that uses a large range of waste materials, such as old doors and bodyboards. Local artists were commissioned, who used materials that were available at a local scrap store, or bought locally second-hand.

It includes over 20 exhibits, from a bike-powered record player that uses an old washing machine motor, to a rainforest mirror room made from donated mirrors.

An art exhibiton room made out of old waste materials such as a bike, record player and old washing machine parts
An exhibition of a bike-powered record player using old washing machine motor. Credit: Reimagining reality

Dundee Museum of Transport: COP-26 exhibition

As part of a collaboration of eight organisations called Museums For Climate Action, the Dundee Museum of Transport hosted an exhibition at COP-26 in Glasgow. It explored how museums can support the move to climate-friendly technology and lifestyles.

The exhibition was curated remotely, and both the content and the materials used considered environmental sustainability. Interactives were upcycled and re-used, using solvent free ink, recyclable exhibition panels, and an electric car from 1967.

They also embedded the UN Sustainable Development Goals into the exhibition content, such as Scotland's timeline for environmental action, which includes banning the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles by 2032.

The materials will be re-used in a new exhibition at Dundee Museum of Transport in 2022, called: Cars, COP-26 and the Climate Crisis.

An exhibition space with panels of information, imagery and a model electric car in the corner
An overview of the exhibition space, with interactives and panels made from recycled materials. Credit: Dundee Museum of Transport

Wakefield Museums & Castles: A World of Good exhibition

A World of Good seeks to inspire people to take immediate and meaningful action on the climate crisis. It includes:

  • a multi-sensory exhibition, created using sustainable materials and methods
  • educational resources for schools and communities
  • a public pledge campaign – which has prompted over 1300 pledges online
  • an environmental manifesto and action plan for their museum service

The exhibition is inspired by the letters of Charles Waterton, a 19th-century environmentalist who built the world’s first nature reserve. It uses commentary from renowned experts – such as Sir David Attenborough, Liz Bonnin and Chris Packham – to prompt action from audiences, provide achievable actions for them to take, and make a commitment to take action.

A person standing with life-like paper sculptures of birds and trees, such as a grey heron
Artist Andy Singleton with some paper sculptures he created for the A World of Good exhibition. Credit: A World of Good

The awards ceremony

The winners from our shortlist will be announced at this year’s Museums + Heritage Awards ceremony, which is taking place in London on 11 May 2022.

Have you been inspired?

We expect all projects we fund to improve their environmental sustainability and create positive benefits for nature. If you are inspired by this year’s shortlisted projects, and want to run a sustainable project of your own, read our environmental sustainability guidance and find out more about what we fund.

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