A heart shape cut into a green hedge.Our Green Grants were created using funds from Arts Council England to support museums to build knowledge and understanding of the impact of the climate emergency and explore positive actions with their communities. The scheme has funded a diverse range of projects that will engage with the climate emergency in a variety of different ways.

The Wilson in Cheltenham, for example, will use their grant to combat our reliance on fast fashion with a series of empowering recycled fashion workshops and an accompanying photography exhibition. The project will work with young people from diverse backgrounds to help break the cycle of throw-away fashion, and educate future generations about the importance of reusing and recycling existing clothing.

Some museums will use the grants to re-examine their existing collections in the light of the climate crisis. Aerospace Bristol will reinterpret their Concorde exhibition to include the history of environmental protest, which will contribute to a broader discussion about the climatic impact of aviation, past, present and future. Meanwhile, Newton Abbot Museum will undertake a conservation assessment of the moths and butterflies in their collection, laying the groundwork for possible future biodiversity analysis that will offer insights into the impact of changing environmental conditions on butterflies and moths.

Other museums will look to the past to learn environmental lessons for the future. Crewkerne & District Museum will develop an exhibition and living history project that will explore how greener practices from the past – such as using local, natural materials for building repairs – could benefit society today. South Somerset Heritage Centre will examine how the gloving industry polluted Yeovil’s waterways and what has been done, and can still be done, to restore biodiversity to the area.

Many of the projects include targeted outreach programmes that will engage local communities in climate issues. Chippenham Museum will establish a group of young people aged 11-18 to explore its collections for historical climate information, and to interview local people about their perceptions of environmental change in the area. Blandford Town Museum will engage local people to develop exhibition materials for a long-term museum exhibition on climate change.

We are also excited to have funded a variety of green-fingered projects that will take a hands-on approach to conservation and sustainability. Stroud’s Museum in Park will run a series of events – for gardeners and non-gardeners alike – focusing on topics such as propagation, composting, biodiversity and encouraging wildlife. The REME Museum in Wiltshire will encourage biodiversity by establishing dedicated spaces for wildflowers, bird boxes and insect hotels, as well as a World War Two themed ‘Dig for Victory’ garden. The Richard Jeffries Museum in Swindon will take inspiration from the ecological principles of its namesake to create eco-friendly learning packs, provide bike racks to encourage greener travel, and provide more sustainable choices at its onsite café.

All of the projects will play a vital role in kick-starting important conversations about the climate emergency in local communities. Roz Bonnet, Programme and Projects Officer for South West Museum Development, explains:

“The climate emergency is the most significant challenge facing society today, and museums and heritage organisations have a distinct opportunity to contribute to the discussion and engage their communities on the key issues.

“The exciting projects funded by our Green Grants will start this conversation within communities and embed more sustainable practices into museum programmes and operations.”

Green Grants is part of South West Museum Development’s Environmental Sustainability programme, which includes training and skills and the Museum Development England Roots and Branches project in partnership with the Carbon Literacy Trust. Find out more about our Green Grants.