Dialogue # 4: Sustainable Museums
Wednesday October 27, 2pm–3:30pm EDT
Online on Zoom
Where does one begin to tally the environmental impact of an exhibition? Is it in the space itself as the artworks and artefacts are assembled? Or is it in the very first steps of the process, which might involve mining for heavy metals and pigments, manufacturing chemicals and products, and laying the fiber optic cables that underlie the systems of communication that are key components of exhibition-making? Guided by these questions, Plastic Heart aims to create a low-carbon exhibition throughout all stages of its making from the size of artworks and geographic proximity of artists, to shipping, material sourcing, installation, exhibition waste, powering media, and web presence. This panel will consider the complexities of this process, how to improve, and will look to other models that critically address aggregate forms of sustainability as motivators for change in the arts.
Suzanne Carte is an award-winning curator and cultural producer living in Toronto, Canada. She is the Senior Curator at the Art Gallery of Burlington, an institution at the intersection of contemporary art and craft. Previously, she was the Assistant Curator at the Art Gallery of York University (AGYU) focusing on the integration of exhibitions and public programming for over a decade. Within her independent practice, she has curated exhibitions in public spaces, artist-run centres, and commercial and public art galleries and previously, she held positions as outreach programmer for the Blackwood Gallery and the Art Gallery of Mississauga, and as professional development and public program coordinator at the Ontario Association of Art Galleries. Suzanne holds an MA in Contemporary Art History from Sotheby’s Art Institute in New York and she was a member of the 2017 Toronto Arts Council Leaders Lab.
Maya Ishizawa is an independent heritage specialist focused on the management of cultural landscapes and the study of nature-culture interactions in heritage places. Trained as an architect in Lima, Peru, she received a Master of Media and Governance from Keio University, Japan, and a PhD in Heritage Studies at BTU Cottbus-Senftenberg, Germany. Currently, she works as a consultant for the ICCROM-IUCN World Heritage Leadership, an advisor for ICOMOS International and serves as scientific coordinator of the ICOMOS/IFLA International Scientific Committee on Cultural Landscapes. Involved in capacity-building initiatives, she is a curator of the PANORAMA Nature-Culture Thematic Community.
Sarah Sutton is CEO of Environment & Culture Partners (ECP), a non-profit “accelerating cultural institutions’ leadership in climate action” that manages the Frankenthaler Climate Initiative, a grant program supporting museums’ energy efficiency and clean energy projects; and an IMLS National Leadership Grant creating energy-efficiency tools for museums. Sutton is the Cultural Sector Lead for America is All In, supporting the Paris Agreement. She is co-author of The Green Museum and author of Environmental Sustainability at Historic Sites & Museums.
Kirsty Robertson (she/her) is Associate Professor of Contemporary Art and Director of Museum and Curatorial Studies at Western University, Canada. Robertson has published widely on activism, visual culture and museums, culminating in her book Tear Gas Epiphanies: Protest, Museums, Culture (2019). Robertson is a founding member of the Synthetic Collective, project co-lead on A Museum for Future Fossils (an ongoing “vernacular museum” focused on responding curatorially to ecological crisis), and Director of the Centre for Sustainable Curating at Western University.
Title and Page Image: Kelly Jazvac & The Synthetic Collective, title wall and portable solar infrastructure, 2021. Salvaged vinyl.