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Catch up National Museum of Scotland

Art and Science – Communicating the Climate Emergency

4 Nov 2021


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Our panel of artists and museum curators discussed the urgency of the climate and biodiversity crisis, the research and technology being used to tackle it and how art can help communicate this critical message and inspire change.

As the eyes of the world turned to Scotland for the UN Climate Conference in November, artists Luke Jerram and Philip Pinsky, along with National Museums Scotland curators, discussed the urgency of the climate and biodiversity crisis. They explored how the research and technology being used to tackle these issues can be shared with the wider public, and considered how art can help communicate these critical messages and inspire change.

The discussion

Our curators highlighted the crucial research being done at National Museums Scotland and how our collections can support wider understanding of the human impact on biodiversity and the climate.

Alarmingly, estimates suggest that over 40% of insect species are currently threatened by extinction. Ashleigh Whiffin explained how our entomology collection is used to study insect populations and support their conservation. Ellie Swinbank looked at examples of possible mitigations to the climate emergency in our science and technology collections, from renewable energy to self-driving cars.

Our guest artists explored these themes through a creative lens and considered how art can promote action, including:

  • A new art installation at the National Museum of Scotland, The Extinction Bell by artist Luke Jerram, starkly highlights the threat to our planet’s biodiversity
  • Sound and film installation And If Not Now, When? by Philip Pinsky and Karen Lamond, encouraged us to consider new ways of living.

Live Q&A exploring the role of art in highlighting the museum's work was chaired by Dr Sam Alberti, Director of Collections at National Museums Scotland.

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Further information

  • A recording of the event will be made available if you’re not able to join us on the night.  
  • The event will be hosted on Zoom. To book, please register your name and e-mail address via Eventbrite in the website link.   
  • Please note that you need only book one ticket (either an attendee ticket or an attendee with donation ticket) per household/e-mail address.  Prior to the event you will receive a confirmation e-mail with instructions on how to join.  
  • Following the talk there will be a Q&A session with the opportunity to submit questions to the panel.  
  • Please note this event will be recorded but your cameras and microphones will automatically be switched off.
  • This online event includes live captioning delivered by Stagetext

If you have any queries surrounding this event please contact

Header image: A queen Common wasp (Vespula vulgaris) feeding on a dandelion at the National Museums Collection Centre © Ashleigh Whiffin. 

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