Galleries, Museums & Climate Change was M&GSQ’s 2014 seminar, an annual partnership with the University of Queensland Art Museum and the UQ Museum Studies Program.
On November 13th, the event featured:
+ Tour of University of Queensland’s Global Change Institute building as an environmental sustainable showcase
• Judith Nesbitt, Head of National and International Partnerships, Tate, on Environmental Sustainability at the Tate.
• Emrah Baki Ulas, Associate, Steensen-Varming, and Julian Bickersteth, Managing Director, International Conservation Services and co-authors The Technical Industry Report on Museum and Gallery Lighting and Air Conditioning, on future options for economically and environmentally sustainable methods of display environments, preservation and storage of art and cultural material.
• Dr Laura Fisher, National Institute for Experimental Arts, CoFA, UNSW, on Curating Cities and how the arts can generate environmentally beneficial behaviour change and influence the development of green infrastructure in urban environments.
• Panel discussion with all speakers moderated by Sarah Kanowski, ABC RN Weekend Arts.
Following refreshments, 6pm- 7pm, Fiona Hall, Janet Laurence and Caroline Rothwell discussed their work on display in the UQ Art Museum: Contemporary art meets the environment. The artists spoke about how they make visible the interconnections between nature and culture, and elaborate the devastating impact of human action on the environment.
Judith Nesbitt, Head of National and International Partnerships
Judith Nesbitt leads Tate’s national and international programmes delivered through partnerships and exchanges. Before taking up this post, Judith was Chief Curator at Tate Britain (2001 – 2010) where she led the curatorial team and played a key role in shaping all aspects of Tate Britain’s programme of exhibitions and displays. She curated Michael Landy’s Semi-detached commission in 2004, co-curated the 2003 Tate Triennial Days Like These, the Peter Doig exhibition in 2008 and the Chris Ofili exhibition in 2010. Judith also leads Tate’s Sustainability Task Force, with the aim of reducing the organisation’s carbon emissions and embedding environmental sustainability in policy and practice.
Educated at the University of York and the Courtauld Institute of Art, Judith began her career at Leeds City Art Gallery, 1986-91, joined Tate Liverpool as Exhibitions Curator, 1991-1995 and was Director of Chisenhale Gallery, 1995-1998. She was Head of Programming at Whitechapel Art Gallery, 1998-2000, and Head of UK Content at eyestorm, the art media company, 2000 – 2001. She is Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Art, is a member of the Advisory Panel for Art on the Underground, and on the Board of Film and Video Umbrella.
Environmental sustainability at Tate
For over five years, Tate has made a concerted effort to reduce its environmental impact and worked with colleagues in the museum sector to address the challenges specific to the sector.
This initiative has brought changes to how it cares for, presents and transports its collection, the operations across its varied estate, the design and engineering of its new buildings. Some of these changes are incremental; other changes require a greater shift, whether in practice or attitude. Staff, audiences, and artists all have a part to play in how we develop imaginative solutions to the environmental challenges of the 21st century.
Like many galleries, Tate has achieved reductions in the energy demand of heating and cooling its buildings, and taken the opportunity presented by capital projects, such as expansion of Tate Modern, to achieve energy efficient design through passive measures, maximising natural lighting and developing the use of LEDs. All aspects of gallery practice are systematically examined, from re-usable wall systems for exhibitions, waste to heat contracts, to sustainable catering and trading. Aiming to embed sustainable practices across the organisation, Tate’s environmental strategy is championed by Green Reps, overseen by the Sustainability Task Force, regularly assessed by Trustees and detailed in its annual report.
The effort is not just an organisational one, since many of the most far-reaching changes require sector-wide agreement between lending institutions. Many international colleagues have indicated their readiness to adopt a smarter approach to running galleries and museums in the long-term public interest. Sharing experience and data is the first step towards well-founded changes of practice, which is why this seminar is a welcome opportunity.
Dr Laura Fisher, National institute for Experimental Arts
Based at the National Institute for Experimental Arts (COFA, UNSW), Laura Fisher is part of the research team behind the Australian Research Council funded Linkage project Curating Cities. Over the last year she has been involved in building the Curating Cities database of eco-sustainable public art, which is a resource for researchers, artists, commissioning agencies, government bodies and members of the public who are interested in how public art can generate beneficial social change with respect to environmental sustainability. She is also currently co-editing the conference proceedings of the 19th International Symposium on Electronic Arts which was staged in Sydney in July 2013. Laura completed her doctoral thesis in the sociology of art at the University of NSW in 2012.
Curating Cities: public art and sustainability in urban environments
Led by researchers at the National Institute for Experimental Arts (COFA) in partnership with the City of Sydney, Carbon Arts, Object, and the University of Cincinnati, Curating Cities examines how the arts can generate environmentally beneficial behavior change and influence the development of green infrastructure in urban environments. The project rests on the conviction that public art can very effectively serve the sustainability agenda if it is integrated into the processes of reshaping urban infrastructure and managing the efficient use of resources in cities. This presentation will explain the aspirations that underpin Curating Cities, and discuss several exemplary public art projects that have been documented on the Curating Cities database of eco-sustainable art. It will also discuss the database’s purpose as an informative and evaluative resource that documents the mix of aesthetic, civic and environmental concerns that each work seeks to address, and provides useful insights into the funding arrangements, multi-party negotiations and problem-solving processes that bring public art projects to fruition.
Julian Bickersteth is the managing director of International Conservation Services and Vice President of the International Institute for Conservation. He chairs the AICCM taskforce on Environmental Guidelines, and is coordinating a joint IIC and ICOM CC working group to examine the international position on potential relaxation of environmental parameters in museums.
Managing environmental parameters in museums in the face of climate change
Relaxed environmental conditions for museums to reduce energy consumption, whilst not compromising the preservation of collections, have been on the table for consideration by the conservation community for at least the last five years. It is acknowledged that existing parameters are based on a blanket approach, and are unnecessarily tight for all but the most vulnerable of artworks. Major museums and galleries worldwide are recognising this and implementing relaxed parameters, such as the Tate, the Smithsonian and the V&A.
Two years ago it looked as though international agreement was close. However a significant proportion of the conservation profession are not convinced that the risks in relaxing these parameters can be safely managed. Accordingly consensus amongst conservators internationally is not going to be achieved and therefore there will be no new blanket environmental standards. This paper examines the current situation on this complex issue.
Emrah Baki Ulas, Associate, Steensen Varming , is a lighting designer, educator and researcher.
His career in lighting began working for the International Istanbul Biennale. He completed his studies in Germany and Turkey, and worked in Greece prior to joining Steensen Varming.
Emrah’s work spans over iconic and high profile projects, including heritage sites, performing art venues, museums and galleries, research and education institutions, commercial developments, monuments, urban lighting and masterplanning.
Emrah is a co-leader of the Master of Lighting Design Postgraduate Studio and an adjunct lecturer at the University of Technology Sydney and is also a frequent contributor of international lighting forums. He was featured as one of the top 30 upcoming professionals by the UK based BS Journal in 2008 and as one of the top 25 upcoming lighting professionals in the USA based AL Journal in 2010.
Acknowledgements: The Energy Efficiency component of this activity received funding from the Department of Industry as part of the Energy Efficiency Information Grants Program.
Judith Nesbitt’s visit to Australia is co-hosted by the Visual Arts Board of the Australia Council and the project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body.