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Happy Museum

No Going Back

Four images as tiles. From top left: a road running through a field; people sitting at tables with hands on their heads; The word compassion written on a stone bench; The word Imagine on a wooden board

Compassion Photo by Dave Lowe on Unsplash; Imagine Photo by Belinda Fewings on Unsplash.

In No Going Back, Happy Museum will build on the particular power of museums to draw on past stories of rapid transition and transformation; and inspire museums and their communities to shape new stories and actions to address the climate and ecological emergency:

  • How have people adapted and innovated in the past to meet profound social and existential challenges?
  • What have we learnt during the pandemic about our capacity for change?
  • What might it mean for humanity and other species to thrive in the 21stcentury?
  • How might we re-think museums for thriving people, places and planet?

Starting in April 2020, we convened No Going Back conversations in which a range of external contributors from psychologists to bioregionalists, activists to civic managers have offered provocations and invited participants to think afresh about the role and potential of museums: How might museums embrace compassionate values to strengthen communities and civic responsibility? How might museums tell a new story of place? How might they become engine rooms of the imagination and build creative connections to address the climate and ecological emergency? The conversations will continue into 2021 and are recorded and available here.

Building on and running alongside these conversations, we will run a peer learning programme (February to June 2021) supporting up to 15 small groups of museum practitioners to work with their spaces, stories, colleagues and connections and rethink museums for thriving people, places and planet.  Participants will explore the provocations and inspiration offered in the online workshops as a springboard for fresh ideas and responses. They will be supported by the Happy Museum core team and by members of the Happy Museum’s Community of Practice – a network of affiliates who will be invited to mentor and support participants.

About the organisation

Launched in April 2011, the Happy Museum Project provides a leadership framework for museums to develop a holistic approach to wellbeing and sustainability. The project re-imagines the museum’s purpose as steward of people, place and planet, supporting institutional and community resilience in the face of global financial and environmental challenges.

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