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Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) Announces Launch of Major Environment-Focused Initiatives

BALTIMORE, MD – The Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) announced a series of major initiatives that model commitments to environmental sustainability and foster discourse on climate change and the role of the museum. Collectively referred to as Turn Again to the Earth, a title inspired by the writing of environmental activist Rachel Carson, the interrelated efforts will unfold over the remainder of 2024 and throughout 2025. Following months of climate-driven protests at museums across the U.S. and abroad, the BMA’s environmental initiatives offer opportunities for more productive dialogues and actions within the museum context. As the museum celebrates its 110th anniversary, it is fitting that it considers its future in part through the lens of this critical subject.

Turn Again to the Earth includes an evaluation of internal BMA practices for environmental impacts and to support the creation of a sustainability plan for the museum; a series of exhibitions and public programs that capture the relationships between art and the environment across time and geography; and a citywide eco-challenge led by the BMA that invites Baltimore and regional partners to engage in environment-related conversations and enact their own plans for a more sustainable future. The National Aquarium and Maryland Zoo—both in Baltimore—have already signed on to the challenge, with more partners to be announced.

“The realities and repercussions of climate change have become part of our daily discourse and experiences. As a civic-minded institution, we hear the call from our communities to find meaningful ways to engage with this urgent topic,” said Asma Naeem, the BMA’s Dorothy Wagner Wallis Director. “Turn Again to the Earth is an opportunity to move the museum from being a site of potential protest to a site of active dialogue and action. By engaging with artists and city leaders, we are working to transform the BMA into a locus for creativity and conversation, capturing the role that the museum can play in illuminating difficult issues and inspiring organizations and communities to positive change. I can think of no better way to set the museum up for another 110 years of success.”

The BMA is working with the Baltimore-based sustainability consulting firm Lorax to assess and make recommendations regarding water and energy efficiency, indoor environment quality, and needed structural upgrades and changes to achieve green building certifications, among a range of other environmental improvements. Lorax is also developing sustainability goals for each department in the museum. Additionally, the BMA is convening a community advisory panel comprised of artists, academics, activists, and city leaders to guide both in-gallery presentations and out of gallery work. Together, these evaluations and recommendations will result in the creation of a sustainability plan that will allow the museum to establish real benchmarks for achieving a more environmentally friendly museum over the coming years. The BMA anticipates that the sustainability plan will be completed by the end of 2024, with efforts to realize the recommendations beginning in 2025.

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Image: Lillian Hoover. Untitled (Fort National). 2019. Baltimore Museum of Art, Frederick R. Weisman Contemporary Art Acquisitions Endowment, BMA 2021.8. ©Lillian Hoover