Sustainable Kumu

The role of the modern museum in society is broader than just collecting, storing and displaying cultural heritage. Museums have a social role to play, and a responsibility to not only preserve culture but also to serve the needs of people and the environment. Through their collections, museums can address current issues in society, raise important questions, stimulate debate and participate in public discussion.

Some of the most pressing challenges today are the climate crisis, resource depletion and ecosystem destruction. We need to act now, taking responsibility for our environmental impacts. To preserve the natural environment alongside cultural treasures, the Art Museum of Estonia has developed a common approach for its five museums.

In February 2022, the Kumu Art Museum became the first museum in Estonia to be awarded the Green Museum certificate. The Estonian Association for Environmental Management manages the plan and issues certificates. The association also grants Green Office certificates to companies, based on similar principles.

As the largest of the five museums that make up the Art Museum of Estonia, Kumu was the first to start implementing green museum principles. This has made us rethink many important environmental and social responsibility issues. The Art Museum of Estonia has developed a comprehensive environmental action plan, which is updated every three years. We publish annual reports on our progress in implementing the action plan. Kumu has the largest environmental footprint among the museums of the Art Museum of Estonia, and we see it as our responsibility to reduce it in every possible way.

One of the core functions of an art museum is organising exhibitions, which have a significant environmental impact due to the materials and energy consumed. As part of the ambitious project Art in the Age of the Anthropocene, a sustainable exhibition model was developed: a practical tool to help museums and other exhibition institutions assess the environmental impacts of their exhibitions. A carbon calculator specially designed for the model measures the material, transport and energy consumption of each exhibition, as well as the emissions associated with printed materials and waste. Unlike similar international models, the calculator makes extensive use of specific emission factors developed on behalf of the Estonian Ministry of Climate, thus providing calculations that are as accurate as possible and take the local context into account.

Sustainable exhibition model

Cooperation partners

We believe that openness and cooperation are essential in working towards the common goal of spreading sustainability principles. This is the only way to achieve real impact. In addressing sustainability issues, Kumu works together with the Estonian Academy of Arts, Tallinn University, the ICOM Estonian Green Museum Work Group and the Stockholm Environment Institute’s Tallinn office.

Work group

An environmental work group was established at the Art Museum of Estonia in June 2021.
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