Museums as agents and settings for climate hope


  • Sarah W. Sutton Sustainable Museums Washington



Despite the uneven distribution of the impacts of climate change, much of the World’s population commonly encounters climate change evidence either directly or indirectly. For many, the dread of a slow-onset disaster of such proportions can be overwhelming. As the emotional effects of climate change appear across society, some people are driven to action, some to inaction or paralysis. Museums could be key agents in turning these emotions into action and hope, but the work is new and the research uneven. The author describes her experience of the intersection of museum work and public emotions on climate change by exploring climate change psychology, museum-public engagement through exhibits, suitability of museums for climate-emotion work, and the potential for alternative museum approaches such as programming partnerships to create hope and foster action. She recommends research questions for the museum sector, and programmatic approaches for museums exploring support services for a public moving from grief and anxiety or despair, to hope.

Author Biography

Sarah W. Sutton, Sustainable Museums Washington

Sustainable Museums Washington