Friday, August 21, 2015

A Climate Change Museum Grows in Brooklyn, er, Hong Kong

The first climate change museum ever  in Asia is located in a building on the campus of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and it's become a model museum for climate activists and art curators around the world hoping to build similar exhibitons in Europe, North America and the Middle East.

The Jockey Club Museum of Climate Change, as it is formally known, opened its doors in 2013, and its goal, according to program director Cecilia Lam,
is to raise awareness of man-made global warming as an educational field trip venue for school children in the former British colony. 

"Stories of personal experience are a powerful medium of communication and learning," Lam says. " Our museum has adopted a storytelling approach to take visitors on a journey to the polar areas, as well as to observe and learn the impacts of global warming and see for themselves what scientists and the local community have been doing to help mitigate climate change."

The goal of the museum, according to Lam, is to prod visitors, be they adults or young people, "to ponder their individual responsibility for leaving a sustainable world for future generations."
A U.S. lawyer and climate activist, Miranda Massie, recently flew to Hong Kong to visit the climate museum there, hoping to find ways to bringing her own vision to fruition in New York, where she has set up the Climate Museum Launch Project and is currently raising funds and finding an architect to design the place.

With climate change issues in the news on a daily basis now, from a major drought in California to water shortages facing the public (and farmers) in Taiwan, climate museums will likely find a place in countries around the world. But it will take curators with vision and perseverance to build such exhibitions halls, and patience for the long haul of fund-raising will be key.

However, not everyone thinks climate museums can do much to raise the level of global warming awareness. Jonathan Jones, a British art critic writing in the Guardian recently, said that in general museums around the world need to ''stop dumbing down science and start putting education before entertainment.''
"How can a museum deal with [man-made global warming] in a way that is genuinely informative, intelligent, honest and accessible without being patronizing? " Jones asked. "The Science Museum in London has notably failed to do so. Its Atmosphere gallery manages to patronize visitors of all ages. Poorly conceived interactive displays turn climate issues into a bad computer game."
While the growing number of climate museums around the world, from Berlin to Hong Kong, are good ideas on paper, they also need to find a way to teach basic science, he said.
"Only a scientifically-literate public will ever be ready to face the facts about climate change," Jones said.

1. Entrance to the Polar Gallery
The entrance of the museum is an imitation of the cabin on the icebreakerXueLong, a polar research vessel.
2. Exploring the Polar Regions
Displays in the Polar Gallery include the “Three Poles” (the North Pole, the South Pole and Mt Everest) collection of renowned Hong Kong explorerDr Rebecca Lee, which provides visitors with a clear picture of climate change.
3. Sea Level Rise Simulation
With the help of geo-information science, visitors at the Remote Sensing and Environmental Monitoring Gallery can manipulate the virtual-reality simulation of the addition of metres of floodwater to Hong Kong and elsewhere.
4. Community Green Initiatives
In the Hong Kong Jockey Club Green Gallery, visitors are introduced to the environmental initiatives sponsored by the Club that promote green living in the local communities.
Photo Credit
Photo courtesy of the MoCC

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