In this video, NHM co-founder Beka Economopoulos presents a guided tour of the first 7 years of The Natural History Museum’s work as part of The World We Need: An Exploration of Art and Justice, a virtual exhibition exploring the relationship between art and environmental justice hosted by Fix, Grist.org‘s solutions lab. Introducing viewers to the NHM’s strategies and theoretical underpinnings, this talk surveys the wide range of exhibitions, collaborations, and campaigns developed in the context of our long-term and ongoing intervention into natural history.
Research Director Steve Lyons surveys recent initiatives organized by The Natural History Museum, showing how NHM works to connect movements to museums, and museums to movements. This talk argues that when museums recognize their futures are dependent on the outcome of community-led struggles, they are compelled to take a side—to affirm, support, and produce reciprocal relations between humans, animals, and the land.
The talk was part of “Barricading the Ice Sheets,” a research endeavor by artist-curator Oliver Ressler, investigating the role of artists in movements for climate justice.
In this talk at the Miami Museum of Art & Design, co-founders of The Natural History Museum discuss the politics that shape visual representations of nature, strategies for presenting scientific fact, and the responsibility of cultural institutions to respond to the climate crisis. A tour through a vast range of representations of the “Anthropocene,” from Edward Burtynsky’s manufactured landscapes, to UN climate reports, to mainstream media headlines on the scientific consensus on climate change, this talk reveals how those who affirm the scientific consensus can unwittingly converge with their adversaries to close the gap of the “unknown.” Against this tendency, we ask how museums, as platforms for science communication, can tell the story of the environmental emergency from the side of the unknown.
In her essay A View from the Side theorist Jodi Dean writes:
“The challenge of politics in the Anthropocene is a matter of perspective: we can’t look at climate change directly. The immensity of the calamity—with attendant desertification, ocean acidification, and species loss—seemingly forces us into seeing all or nothing. If we don’t grasp the issue in its enormity, we miss it entirely.
When we approach climate change indirectly, from the side, however, other openings, political openings, become visible. Rather than being ensnared by our fascination with an illusory anthropocenic whole, we cut across and through, gaining possibilities for collective action and strategic engagement.”
In this talk, presented at the 2016 Congress on Public Space in Lithuania, Dean offers The Natural History Museum (NHM) as a community-engaged and movement-minded institutional model that counters the dominant position of “authoritative neutrality” espoused by most museums.
In this talk, theorist Jodi Dean discusses strategies for institutional and sector-wide change, organizing from the outside in, and the inside out. She explores the work of Not An Alternative, the nonprofit collective of artists, activists, and scholars who founded The Natural History Museum (NHM) in 2014. She argues that the NHM nominates the institution as a site of collective power that can be activated, describing how it leverages modes of communication, reclaiming language, ideas, knowledge, and affect to advance social and environmental justice. For Not An Alternative, she argues, this is a politics of organization and the building of movement infrastructure.
In this talk, we present research that informed the development of The Natural History Museum in the months leading up to its launch, introducing our perspective on the concept of nature, the history of environmentalism, and the psychologies of the science denial and climate activism movements.
The talk was part of a day-long conference hosted by the Department of Technology, Culture and Society at NYU’s Polytechnic School of Engineering, which brings together social scientists with expertise on behavior change and environmental education, with digital media activists and artists to examine media strategies that aim to educate and to impact environmental issues.