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Art and Science – Communicating the Climate Emergency

4 Nov 2021

Online

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

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