Sustainable Museums: Strategies for the 21st Century

How can museums remain resilient in uncertain times? How can they thrive under changing economic, legislative and cultural conditions? Museum sustainability expert Rachel Madan covers new territory for any museum that is interested in becoming more sustainable. This is not a book about changing light bulbs - Sustainable Museums provides a system enabling you to start making changes that are both transformational and lasting. It will help you create a museum that is resilient, confident and secure in its sustainability approach. And as well as lots of advice, it provides a host of inspiring international case studies along the way.

Among the key topics covered in the book’s information-rich 380 pages are:

  1. Developing a sustainability vision for your own museum
  2. The importance of leadership – and achieving it at every level
  3. Finding and bringing your sustainability team together
  4. Undertaking your sustainability audit and discovering where you are
  5. Determining where you want to get to
  6. Developing a sustainability strategy for your museum
  7. Setting and achieving critical targets and milestones
  8. Developing the policies and plans which will support your strategy
  9. Letting the world know – communicating your sustainability
  10. Overcoming the inevitable implementation problems
  11. Where do you go next?

A Short History of Sustainability
Your Vision
Developing a Foundation for Leadership
Get Your Team Together
Assess Your Impact
Developing a Sustainability Strategy
Targets and Milestones
Developing Policies and Plans
Communicating Sustainability

Case Studies
01. Heritage Lottery Fund
02. Ruskin Museum
03. Balboa Park Cultural Partnership
04. National Museums Liverpool
05. Massachusetts Audubon Society
06. Connecticut Science Center
07. The Beacon Museum
08. Lakeland Arts Trust
09. John G Shedd Aquarium
10. Manchester United Museum and Tour Centre
11. Smithsonian National Zoo
12. The Harris Museum, Preston
13. Minnesota Historical Society
14. Manchester Museum
15. Manchester Art Gallery
16. Ball State University Museum of Art
17. Museum of Science and Industry, Manchester
18. Heide Museum of Modern Art
19. Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse
20. Detroit Zoo
21. Musée de la Civilisation
23. Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
24. Oregon Museum of Science and Industry
25. Abbot Hall Art Gallery
26. Manchester Art Gallery
27. British Library
28. Warrington Museum
29. The Design Museum
30. Walker Art Center
31. Renaissance South East
32. North Carolina Museum of Art
33. Normandy American Cemetery Visitor Center
34. Chabot Space & Science Center
35. National Museums Liverpool
36. Jane Addams Hull-House Museum
37. Abasuba Community Peace Museum

Educated in New York and London, Rachel Madan is a leading international expert in museum sustainability and founder of Greener Museums. She has worked with Tate, the Department of Culture Media & Sport, National Museums Liverpool, National Library of Scotland and many other organisations large and small in the UK and USA.

Rachel is currently Sustainability Officer at the International Finance Corporation (a member of the World Bank Group), Washington DC.

"She [Rachel Madan] engenders fresh thinking and applies new solutions that are helping us achieve real change…" Sir Nicholas Serota, Director, Tate.

Sustainable Museums provides solid foundational information for greening museums. It is a mix of the author’s work and a solid list of contributed cases from museums, trusts and agencies in the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, Denmark and Kenya. 

Madan’s suggestions on developing vision, identifying barriers and ‘drivers for change’, and creating strategic communication methods and sustainability steering groups, caught my eye. I particularly like that in her suggestions, as well as the case studies, that there is very little green ‘bling’ and very much an emphasis on efficiencies, collaboration, and sound baseline information.

Among the cases’ great stories I found many valuable snippets I’d hope the field could emulate. They were a pleasure to read, and a shot of inspiration. Some days I feel I am banging my head against the wall, and others I feel at least I’m not doing it alone!

Sarah Brophy, Sustainable Museums Blog


Title: Sustainable Museums: Strategies for the 21st Century
Author: Rachel Madan
Pages: 380
Illustrations: 90
Size: 216 x 140mm
Date: 2011
Editions: £44.95 [paperback], £89.95 [hardback]

ISBN: 978-1-907697-09-8 [paperback]
ISBN: 978-1-907697-10-4 [hardback]



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