Empty wooden garden plantersIn March this year, we awarded 10 museums £20,560 in funding as part of our Green Grants Programme to support them to engage audiences and communities with issues related to the climate emergency.

Our Green Grants were created using funds from Arts Council England. The scheme has funded a diverse range of projects that are engaging with the climate emergency in a variety of different ways. The 10 museums are now halfway through the Green Grants Programme, we touched base with Chippenham Museum, The Wilson and REME Museum to see how they’re getting on.

For their project, Chippenham Museum are working with young people to explore the museum collections for information on historic climate change. So far, a group of 10 secondary school students have spent a week researching groups of objects to see what stories they told about our changing attitudes and awareness of environmental issues. The group photographed chosen objects and wrote labels to explain their findings to be used and will be used in a display which will be touring the town’s secondary schools this month.

The Wilson have created an exhibition with young people on throw-away fashion, called “Break the Cycle”.  They ran workshops with National Star College, young carers at Jolt Studios in Gloucestershire, as well as with members of the Youth Climate Panel, before deciding that their takeaway message from the exhibition should be the impact that denim production has on resources. The centrepiece of the final exhibition was a denim waterfall which cascaded from the ceiling, accompanied by photos and footage of the workshops with young people. The Wilson had at least 2,000 visitors to the gallery in the first week of reopening while the exhibition was on.

REME Museum have been using their green grant to purchase mature plants for their Dig for Victory kitchen garden, which will provide vegetables for the museum café, as well as wildflower seeds for their wildflower garden. To begin with, considerable preparatory work was carried out by the REME Corps holdover troops, including levelling the ground, creating paths around the Dig for Victory garden, as well as a seating area in the middle of the wildflower garden. They also built the planting boxes in which the vegetables will grow and moved them into position. Royal Wootton Bassett Men’s Shed have agreed to build bird boxes, insect hotels and a bench for the museum. Wiltshire Wood Recycling of Castle Coombe have already agreed to supply some bird boxes and insect hotels.

All of the projects play a vital role in kick-starting important conversations about the climate emergency in local communities. 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.