[POSTPONED] Declaring Emergency: Museums and the Climate Crisis - The Courtauld Institute of Art

[POSTPONED] Declaring Emergency: Museums and the Climate Crisis

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[POSTPONED] Declaring Emergency: Museums and the Climate Crisis

The Courtauld Institute of Art, Vernon Square, Penton Rise, London

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Olafur Eliasson, Ice Watch, 2014, Tate Modern, London 2018.

  • Thursday 19 March 2020
    PLEASE NOTE: This Date Has Passed
    6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

    Lecture Theatre 1, first floor, The Courtauld Institute of Art, Vernon Square, Penton Rise, London, WC1X 9EW


  • Theo Gordon (moderator) - Courtauld Institute of Art
  • Melanie Vandenbrouck - Royal Museums Greenwich
  • Lucia Pietroiusti - Serpentine Galleries
  • Farah Ahmed - Activist
  • Heather Ackroyd & Dan Harvey - Artists

Organised by

  • MA Curating - Courtauld Institute of Art

In the interest of public, staff and student safety, we have taken the decision to cancel a number of our upcoming events in light of the ongoing COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak. This event has been postponed a new date will follow soon.


The climate emergency has become a global issue, and museums are starting to take up the debate. Several cultural institutions around the United Kingdom have taken it upon themselves to respond to the increasingly dire climate crisis, but the actual obligations that come along with such a decision are vague. A difference in mission, procedures, and levels of public engagement have made battling the climate issue an individual process, with very little precedent to pave the way. However, other participants in the museum sphere, such as environmentally-inclined artists and organizations, have begun to weigh in by using their art and resources to critique the current path of cultural institutions and turn museums into spaces of activism. This discussion, hosted by the MA Curating the Art Museum course at the Courtauld Institute of Art, will focus on the courses of action available to institutions and artists concerned with the climate crisis, and what influence these stakeholders can actually have on a local and global level.



Dr Theo Gordon

Sackler Postdoctoral Fellow 2019-20


Melanie Vandenbrouck is an art historian, writer and curator. She has worked at the Courtauld Institute of Art, where she earned a PhD, and in the V&A’s Sculpture department. She is now Curator of Art at the Royal Museums Greenwich, where she is responsible for the post-1800 art collection. Melanie’s wider interests include the dialogue(s) between science and the arts, and artistic responses to the climate emergency. In 2019, she curated The Moon at Royal Museums Greenwich, and Moonlight at the Hasselblad Foundation, Gothenburg, both of which evoked the role of photography during the Apollo space programme in raising awareness about Earth’s environment.

Lucia Pietroiusti is Curator of General Ecology at Serpentine Galleries, London; as well as the curator of Sun & Sea (Marina) – Lithuanian Pavilion at the 58th Venice Biennale (and its 2020-2021 international tour). She will be a curator of the 2020 Shanghai Biennale (Chief Curator: Andrés Jaque). Current projects include The Shape of a Circle in the Mind of a Fish, with Filipa Ramos, Holly Shuttleworth and Kostas Stasinopoulos; as well as the forthcoming publication More-than-Human ( with Andrés Jaque and Marina Otero Verzier) and Back to Earth – the Serpentine’s 50th anniversary programme, dedicated to the environment (2020).

Farah Ahmed is a creative producer and facilitator. Her interests lie in how we support physical and emotional space for communities shut out of conversations around climate change, reshape the narratives of the environmental movement in the global north, and radically alter our failing systems. She is a co-creator of Diaspora Dialogues for The Future, a reflective space for people of colour to centre collective care in the face of the climate crisis. Farah works at Julie’s Bicycle where she has produced a podcast The Colour Green, platforming racialised artists who explore the interactions between race, power, climate and social justice.

Heather Ackroyd and Dan Harvey are British visual artists who have been working together since the 1990s. Their multidisciplinary practice intersects activism, ecology, culture and climate change and they are internationally renowned for their award winning photographic works. Created by growing grass in light controlled environments the resulting organic living images explore growth, transformation and decay. Ackroyd & Harvey are equally renowned for their architectural interventions which intercept perceptions of place and landscape. In April last year, the artists were instrumental in the launch of Culture Declares Emergency, and have been working closely with numerous artists and organisations, including Tate Modern, to lead conversations about climate change and the cultural sector.

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