Catherine Ince, Lucia Pietroiusti, Camilla Tham & Nick Merriman. Organised by Jessica Reynolds and Lily Jencks (Experimental Unit 13)

Culture in Climate Change: How should Museums act in the Environmental Emergency?

Series: Evening Lecture
Date: Thursday 20 February 2020
Time: 18:30
Venue: AA Lecture Hall
Running time: 0 mins

The environmental emergency demands a total transformation of our culture. Museums and galleries are critical in instigating this new cultural discourse that responds to climate change, environmental emergency, and species extinction.  How can the museum and art world evolve to cultivate these conversations and create long-term thinking about our future, catalysing us into collective action, guiding us towards a new cultural paradigm, and interrogating the ethical, social and political implications of the Anthropocene? Museums are amongst the most environmentally conditioned spaces that we design: climate controlled vitrines inside climate controlled gallery spaces inside climate controlled buildings. How can we rethink the museum so that it not only minimises its own environmental impact, but so that it also embeds ecological thinking deeply into its design, display and discourse?

This is a roundtable event, with speakers from London’s most high profile cultural institutions, including The Serpentine Gallery and the V&A East. They will debate the role of museums and art spaces in the environmental crisis, and discuss strategies both from a practical perspective - what real changes are being made to the way institutions are being designed and operated– and from a discourse perspective – through curatorial programming, research and educational outreach. This event is organised by Experimental Unit 13, led by Jessica Reynolds and Lily Jencks.

Catherine Ince is Chief Curator of the V&A East Project as part of the Victoria and Albert Museum, which comprises a new O’Donnell &Tuomey Architects-designed museum and a new Collection Research Centre by Diller, Scofidio + Renfro. V&A East will open in 2023 as part of East Bank, a major new cultural and education district planned for the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London. She previously worked at the Barbican Art Gallery, where she curated 'The World of Charles and Ray Eames' (2015) and 'Bauhaus: Art As Life' (2012). She regularly contributes to books, journals and online media about twentieth century and contemporary visual and material culture, and has lectured widely in the United Kingdom and internationally.

Lucia Pietroiusti is Curator of General Ecology at the Serpentine Galleries, London, as well as the curator of Sun & Sea (Marina), the Lithuanian Pavilion at the 58th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, awarded by the Golden Lion. At Serpentine, Pietroiusti founded and curates the long-term ‘General Ecology’ project for Serpentine (2018-ongoing) dedicated to the implementation of ecological principles throughout all of the Galleries’ exhibitions and programmes. Recent projects include The Shape of a Circle in the Mind of a Fish series (with Filipa Ramos) and Microhabitable (with Fernando García-Dory). Forthcoming publications include More-than-Human, co-edited with Andrés Jaque and Marina Otero Verzier.

Camilla Tham is Anthropocene Engagement Manager at the Natural History Museum in London. Her role is to raise awareness of the current state of the planet through engagement with the Museum’s collections and scientific research, and galvanise audiences to play a role in positive change for the future. She is currently working to establish a global network of museums, science centres and like-minded organisations who are committed to engaging audiences with the Anthropocene, and addressing what this means for humanity in terms of understanding the past, present and future of our planet. She previously led the Science Communication team at the Museum, delivering programmes such as the Friday night‘Lates’ and various face-to-face and digital forms of public engagement.

Nick Merriman
has been CEO of the Horniman since May 2018. He has refocused the organisation to take advantage of its position as the only museum in London where nature and culture can be seen together. Before that he was Director of the Manchester Museum, where he focused its mission on promoting understanding between cultures and working towards a sustainable world, and oversaw the refurbishment of most of the Museum’s permanent galleries. Previously Nick was Director of Museums and Collections, and Reader in Museum Studies, at University College London for eight years. The Horniman recently launched a Climate and Ecology Manifesto, outlining their platform for action to mitigate against the climate emergency by putting the environment at the heart of their mission, programming and collections. 

Jessica Reynolds is a unit master of Experimental 13 at the AA. She is a director at London-based vPPR Architects, which investigates the continual crossover between art and architecture in residential and cultural projects. She is a founder of the Architecture Exchange, a platform that fosters debate between architecture and philosophy. She studied at Cambridge University and Princeton University.

Lily Jencks is a unit master of Experimental 13 at the AA. She is the founder of JencksSquared and LilyJencksStudio, which looks at how content-driven forms can create strong identities for meaningful public interaction through architecture, landscape and interior projects in the UK and abroad. She studied at Columbia University and holds a master’s degree in Architecture and Landscape Architecture from the University of Pennsylvania.

Image: Reflections of the Natural History Museum, by Lily Jencks

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The Architectural Association receives Taught Degree Awarding Powers by the Lords of Her Majesty’s Most Honourable Privy Council.

The Architectural Association (AA), the oldest independent school of architecture in the United Kingdom, is pleased to announce that it has been granted the power to award its own degrees. As of 1 October 2019, the AA has the right to establish new academic programmes and degree awards and is working to create some of the world’s most pioneering courses in architecture to shape and build the future.

Taught Degree Awarding Powers (TDAP) give UK higher education institutions the right to award bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Prospective students worldwide can apply to the AA Foundation Course (Foundation Diploma), Experimental Programme BA(Hons), Diploma Programme (MArch), and nine taught postgraduate programmes encompassing History and Critical Thinking in Architecture (MA), Projective Cities (Taught MPhil) and Sustainable Environmental Design (MSc/MArch), amongst others.

AA Director, Eva Franch said, ‘since our founding in 1847 we have never ceased to create new horizons, institutionally and academically. This is a significant milestone for the AA and demonstrates how we have grown and progressed as an institution that has always valued independence. Receiving TDAP marks a new era for our institution; these are exciting times for the AA. The process has required considerable work from all members of staff and students. I would like to take this opportunity to credit them for this major achievement’.

President of the AA Council, Victoria Thornton added, ‘the TDAP process has recognised our strong governance, academic standards, scholarship and teaching as well as the environment supporting the delivery of taught higher education programmes’.

The School’s application for Taught Degree Awarding Powers was supported by the Architects Registration Board, the Royal Institute of British Architects and The Open University.