Pop Culture
Apr 29, 2008, 06:52AM

A Different Kind Of Green Conservation

Museums, typically on the cutting edge of design and architectural trends, are having problems adjusting to green building principles. Eco-friendly technologies are evolving, but when controlling light and temperature is essential to the preservation of musty old artwork there's still a long way to go.


"Museums of all kinds are in a tricky spot when it comes to integrating sustainable or green practices into their operations and physical structures. As public institutions with an educational component, they are perfectly poised to take on the challenge. However, such practices are difficult to carry out. As stewards of artifacts and artworks, a primary concern for museums is the protection of cultural objects. Climate and light control are of the utmost importance, and finding ways to combine green efficiency with conservation is complex.

Finding a new use for such materials marks an important concern for the exhibition process. Often exhibition-design pieces are custom-made, making them inappropriate for resale, or have been manipulated in such a way that they cannot be traditionally recycled. Don Meckley, Director of Production and Facilities at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), is well aware of these difficulties and agrees: "It is important to find a final resting home for the unused materials that can't be recycled directly." Sheetrock, used to construct temporary walls, is one material that is incredibly difficult to reuse. The same was once true for steel wall studs, but because the metal market is strong right now, the MCA has been having no trouble recycling those that are no longer usable. Because the process of "recycling" building materials can sometimes be inefficient and difficult, Meckley is a strong believer in finding new uses for materials, and is seeking a partnership with Habitat for Humanity in which the MCA could provide used materials for housing construction.



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