How Can My Museum Champion Climate Justice? Step 1 – Develop an Advocacy Policy

Robert Janes told us in an earlier post about three simple steps that museums might take to begin to embrace issues like climate change:

  1. Tell stories and educate – Museums tell the stories of the natural and cultural world – tell your visitors how climate change and disruption came to be.

  2. Second, with unbridled consumption as the cause of climate change, it is imperative that we reduce our individual consumption. …

  3. A third initiative is to develop an Advocacy Policy for your museum …

All spoke to me. But I was particularly intrigued with the notion of an Advocacy Policy. What is that? Has any museum developed one? Can a museum advocate for climate justice?

Nina Simon & MAH Advocacy Policy

Nina Simon has actually written two blog posts on this topic. In the first, entitled Does Your Institution Have an Advocacy Policy, she talks about the reasons behind her institution’s desire to develop this policy.

Ultimately, I decided we couldn’t sign [a petition] – not because it was the necessarily the wrong thing to do, but because we didn’t have any kind of policy beyond directorial discretion to decide when it might be appropriate to take a political stand as an institution

But especially useful is Nina Simon’s second post on the topic, Advocacy Policy, Part Two – And Why Now is an Especially Good Time to Create One. In this one, she talks about how the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History created their policy and the surprises they encountered. And she, ever generous, shares their Advocacy Policy

Here it is

And here’s another from The Association of Maine Archives and Museums

In Canada, the Alberta Board Development Program offers a useful Advocacy Bulletin that covers the wherefores and whys of advocacy in some detail.

National museums associations like the American Alliance of Museums and the Canadian Museums Association also offer advocacy resources. These, although useful, tend to be oriented more toward persuading government funders of the usefulness of museums to society than to championing fundamental change.

The development of an Advocacy Policy like that of the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History will, as Bob Janes writes, help nurture and strengthen a broader vision. Because, when the world pushes up against your doors and asks for your help – whether you are in Weyburn, Saskatchewan or Toronto, Ontario – when you are confronted with moral and civic challenges, like climate change, what will you do? What will your colleagues do? What will your museum do?

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