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Students can write down their concerns about the climate at the Oudemanhuispoort

The Klimaatmuseum is a travelling pop-up museum that seeks to make the urgency of the climate crisis clear through imagination. According to the founder Laura van Rutten, alumnus of the Public History Master’s programme, the latter is sorely needed. ‘We’ve known for some time, of course, that climate change has major consequences – we know the facts and what the cause is. However, we’re doing much too little to solve the problem. Apparently, facts are not enough for us; we only spring into action when something affects us. In order to achieve that, we need imagination and creativity.’

Surprising perspectives

For that reason, the museum collaborates with artists and other partners – the Faculty of Humanities, in this case – who offer new, surprising perspectives on the climate problem. The collaboration with the Faculty arose when Van Rutten came into contact via the Humanities Venture Lab with UvA lecturer Colin Sterling (Museum Studies), who has been dealing with the topic of sustainability in teaching and research for some time already.

The collaboration with the Klimaatmuseum is a great way for the Faculty to highlight the different ways in which staff and students engage with the climate crisis, says Sterling. ‘This concerns issues and topics that have long been central to the arts and humanities, from inequality and injustice to the need for new cultural imaginaries.’

Van Rutten: ‘By collaborating with the UvA, we can make the important research that is conducted here in the fields of sustainability and climate appealing to a broad audience. The students are going to play a major role in that: they will help erect the pop-up museum, in terms of both content and form.’

Multidisciplinary exhibition

The project will provide the students with practical experience in how they can help different target groups to engage with complex issues. When putting together the exhibition, they will approach the climate crisis from the perspective of various academic disciplines.

In the coming months, courses will be scheduled at different degree programmes in which the students will set to work on this. The first course, The Climate Emergency taught by History lecturer Peter van Dam, has now started. The students will develop various products – such as a podcast, poster or booklet – in which they will place the climate issue in a historical perspective. Some of those products will subsequently be developed further, together with the Klimaatmuseum, into museum installations that will be part of the exhibition.

Students from other degree programmes, including Media Studies and Museum Studies, will also contribute to the multidisciplinary exhibition in the coming period. The exhibition can be seen at VOX-POP, the creative space of the Faculty of Humanities, from May 2024.

Dr. C.P. (Colin) Sterling

Faculty of Humanities

Capaciteitsgroep Kunstgeschiedenis