Welcome to the Future

Museums as Key Partners on Climate Change and Environment

Aloha, I’m Sarah Sutton. I work with cultural institutions changing their climate and environmental impacts on behalf of the World’s communities. I have worked in the museum field for 30+ years, beginning as an historic interpreter, then in development, and then as an executive director. Most of that time has been spent as an independent professional consulting in grant-based fundraising, and on environment and climate. Funding good green work if the best blend of those two!

So many of the resources the World needs to find a better way forward are right there: skilled and creative people, art and objects, creatures and plants, and dependability and knowledge are at zoos and aquariums and gardens, and science and art and history museums, centers and sites.

These resources that make them great learning centers make them great partners, too. For over a decade the field has been exploring its relationship to climate concerns – our responsibility for our own Carbon and waste impacts, and our responsibility to educate and advocate for a healthier, safer, more just future for all.

Each of us has a responsibility and opportunity to advance environmental sustainability and climate action personally and professionally. Through AAM’s Environment & Climate Network, We Are Still In, AASLH’s Climate Sustainabity Committee and my consulting, writing, and teaching, I work to make sure institutions and individuals understand their responsibility, ability, and opportunity to reduce their impacts and improve conditions in the World for themselves, their collections, their communities, and the future of those who depend upon us to create change now.

These are the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals for the World. Each of these contributes to the well-being of all life on this planet as we know it.

Please reach out to me at sarah@sustainablemuseums.net whether your question is about how to sign on to We Are Still In, find advice, or participate with AAM’s or AASLH’s environment and climate teams. I can also be reached at 978-505-4515.


Sarah lives in Tacoma, Washington, in the United States and works wherever needed. She is the Cultural Sector Lead for We Are Still In, and teaches in the Harvard Extension School Museum Studies Program and for MuseumStudy. She is a consultant for the Detroit Zoo and other museums and institutions interested in leading and modeling environmental practice. This fall she co-led a workshop on disaster planning and climate resilience with five museums from the Cherokee Nation with funding from NEH, and visited the Patapsco Heritage Area in Maryland to provide a workshop on environmental thinking. Next spring she’ll be teaching a course on the role of the arts and humanities in documenting and dealing with climate change for the Harvard Extension School. She consistently prepares and participates in NEH Sustaining Cultural Heritage program grants. In 2019 she was awarded the inaugural Individual Impact Award in from the AAM Environment & Climate Network.

Article link

Citation: Sarah Sutton, Creating Change in the United States’ Museum Field: Using Summits, Standards, and Hashtags to Advance Environmental Sustainability and Climate Change Response, Addressing the Challenges in Communicating Climate Change Across Various Audiences, 10.1007/978-3-319-98294-6_26, (429-441), (2018).Crossref