Today, Wednesday 18 May 2022, we celebrate International Museum Day. Developed by the International Council of Museums (ICOM) in 1977, this year’s theme is “The Power of Museums” which looks at how museums can bring about positive change in their communities through three lenses: sustainability, innovation on digitilisation and accessibility and through community building through education.

As part of IMD 2022, I will be speaking at the virtual Singapore Symposium organised by ICOM Singapore, the National Heritage Board (NHB) and the Singapore Museum Roundtable about the Australian Museum’s commitment to sustainability and transforming the conversation around climate change.

Museum Facade
Museum Facade Image: Daniel Boud
© Australian Museum

The AM is committed to being an inclusive, sustainable and resilient organisation. A great example of our leadership in this space was our sustainability achievements through Project Discover, our award-winning $57.5M building transformation completed in 2020. Through Project Discover, we achieved a more than 90 percent diversion rate of construction waste to landfill. Hardwood flooring removed from the Pacific Collection stores was reused in the touring exhibition hall and bronze stair balustrading was reused in signage. ​

Solar Panels AM rooftop
Solar Panels on the roof of the Australian Museum. Image: Abram Powell
© Australian Museum

Just last month, the AM was recognised with the Climate smART Award 2022 for its focus on initiatives which transform public behaviour towards a more sustainable, climate resilient future. We do this through our touring and on-site exhibitions, digital resources and events including SPARK, Changing Climate and the Sustainability Action Plan.

And we will continue to lead in this space and expand on our existing climate changed focussed programs through hosting the 2022 Talbot Oration with Dr Rebecca Huntley on Thursday 2 June in the lead up to World Environment Day. In this free talk, author and social researcher Rebecca Huntley will explore how images can hold the solution to a better climate future.

The Talbot Oration is annual event held at the AM to showcase advances in the field of climate change research and environmental conservation. Following the address by Dr Rebecca Huntley, AM Trustee and Distinguished Professor Larissa Behrendt will host a panel with some warriors at the coalface of the climate change crisis to discuss solutions and practical actions the public can take to help minimise climate change impact.

In the lead up to World Environment Day, we will also be launching our new Climate Solutions Centre, where we will collaborate with some of our nation’s leading minds to inspire hope and action for this most pressing of global challenges – watch this space for more information on how you can get involved.

These are just a few ways the AM is creating relationships and pathways with our communities in ways I could only have dreamed about 45 years ago, when ICOM first put a day together to highlight that “Museums are an important means of cultural exchange, enrichment of cultures and development of mutual understanding, cooperation and peace among peoples.”

Enjoy International Museum Day and celebrate the richness of what our institutions bring to the educational, cultural, and scientific vibrancy of our communities.