Most cultural institutions, emerging from the pandemic, will thrive only if audiences return. Conversely, museums, galleries, and other arts venues have a role to play in helping cities as they reopen their economies. Given these realities — alongside a national resetting of priorities prompted by COVID and the push for environmental and racial justice — as well as the infrastructure funding the Biden administration hopes to make available, a growing chorus of voices say it is time for the arts to model a cleaner, greener, more equitable future.
The arts are in a unique position to do this through the design of their physical spaces and the works they exhibit, and given their altruistic goal of educating and informing. Some 850 million people visited a museum in the U.S. in 2019, and people find them more trustworthy than newspapers, nongovernmental organizations, and government agencies. That gives them wide latitude to shape public opinion. More than that, though, there is a mounting sense that this carbon-intensive sector has an obligation to clean up its act, literally and figuratively. The nation’s 35,000 or so museums tend to occupy ol... Read more