“We exist to stir and collect creative responses to the emergency.”

The mobile and digital Climate Museum UK.
Bridget McKenzie in conversation with Elke Zobl and Timna Pachner

Do these materials work on their own? Or do they need your guidance?

The process has to involve a briefing session, or a workshop with the team first. Then, participants plan what they are going to do with the materials. Where they will put them, who they will invite to come and work with them. Then, they might put the map in a foyer where everyone can see them, or they might have a special event with an invited audience. Then, hopefully, people would give feedback to us. We have piloted it with one pop-up in Northern England at the beginning of March, but they had to shut early because of the lockdown.

Do you have a collection? Something like a toolbox with your methods? How do you work with this? It sounds so great and so engaging.

It is not quite there yet. We only registered as a charitable company in December 2019. Then we had a really large number of pop-ups. It is a really good question. If you were to come to my studio, I could rustle around, pull out all these tools and posters and say, “Here it is”. But we are at the stage of expansion with the team of members. We are a CIC, a community interest company. Since we only just registered, we could just work for four or five months and the last month has been in crisis. Those tools and posters I mentioned before, started off being my toolkit. Now, I wanted to pull back on that and say the toolkit could be very different, because there are other potential contributors. I want the team to feedback on what I have created. We still need to have a phase of evaluation. We were intending to have two researchers evaluate our pop-ups and workshops this summer. We would use the feedback to formalize a training toolkit that we would then use to disseminate to other educators who want to create a Climate Museum anywhere. But that process was interrupted. We are not doing the pop-ups or the evaluation.

Do you also engage on digital platforms such as Pinterest? What part do they play in your work? It is not just a mobile museum – you said, you are also digital. What part does the digital space play in your work?

It has been a poor cousin. It is often the way with digital projects, that you just end up getting sucked into social media rather than working in a very structured way. It is quite a hard one to answer. What we have been doing is reacting to demands, really. The demand has been for face-to-face interaction. In the first months, we spent all of our time just getting ready, making sure our things look nice. Going out and doing workshops. The digital side was just capturing what we were doing. Taking photos of our workshops and not even coping with writing up. We have not written blogposts of all our workshops and activities. Now, we are reacting to the crisis and are saying: “We have to do more digital things.” So, I did a blogpost which I think you might have seen. It is called “Help our digital museum”. This one summarizes our ten current digital projects where we are really trying to get people to engage by amplifying what we do, contribute ideas or send us artworks or responses. The trouble with this is that it is overwhelming. We need to take each kind of campaign and do a focus each week or for a fortnight a time. For example, in February, I started a project called Extreme Weather Stories. We got two people to write blogposts to share their experiences of living with flooding. And then, everyone forgot about the flooding, even though the people who were flooded in the UK are now living with the need to stay at home. But somehow, it is not in the news, and it has taken a back seat. The current two projects I am spending a lot of time on are the pandemic and the planetary emergency. So it is kind of a collective collaborative collection of responses to Covid-19 in the context of an earth crisis. And the project called #TimetoMend, which is about sharing what you are doing to recycle, restore, mend and heal. That needs so much work. I keep tweeting but it really takes a lot of work to get people to participate.

The Innsbruck Nature Film Festival followed up and the Climate Museum UK provided a display for a cinema foyer in Autumn 2020.

Since this interview, there have been some changes in the thinking and structure of Climate Museum UK.

Bridget McKenzie, Elke Zobl, Timna Pachner (2021): “We exist to stir and collect creative responses to the emergency.”. The mobile and digital Climate Museum UK.
Bridget McKenzie in conversation with Elke Zobl and Timna Pachner. In: p/art/icipate – Kultur aktiv gestalten #12 , https://www.p-art-icipate.net/we-exist-to-stir-and-collect-creative-responses-to-the-emergency/