An interview with Cecilia Lam, Director of the Jockey Club Museum of Climate Change (Hong King)
by Selva Ozelli
THE CHINESE UNIVERSITY OF HONG KONG
Jockey Club Museum of Climate Change
Art.Earth Interview with Director Cecilia Lam
- Established in December 2013, the Jockey Club Museum of Climate Change at The Chinese University of Hong Kong is the first museum of its kind in the world. What was the vision to establishing World’s first Climate Change Museum?
As a socially responsible institution of higher education committed to building a sustainable future for Hong Kong, The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) has long tried to mitigate the effects of climate change through education, research, and community outreach and services. The idea of a climate change museum was first mooted in 2010, when Dr Rebecca Lee, a local explorer who set up the Polar Foundation in 1997, sought a location to house a collection accumulated during her many years of fieldwork in the Arctic and Antarctic and around Mount Everest. CUHK decided that this collection should form the nucleus of a museum designed to raise awareness of the threat posed by global warming. In December 2013, with the support of a generous donation from the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust, the Jockey Club Museum of Climate Change (MoCC) was established on CUHK’s campus. The museum’s mission is to educate the public about the potential impacts of the global climate crisis and to promote climate action in the community.
- The Museum offers an interactive, multimedia exhibition that showcases valuable collections, important information, events, campaigns, ecotours, fairs, educational classes about climate change to its nearly 1 million visitors https://www.mocc.cuhk.edu.hk/en-gb/museum. How was the Museum able to grow so fast in the course of seven years and tell us how the Museum is celebrating this milestone?
Thanks to our virtual museum and Mobile MoCC, the MoCC can now be visited both in person and remotely. In the past, people had to go in person to a museum if they wanted to see its exhibits. Today, many museums instead offer online virtual visits or take their exhibits to potential visitors. The MoCC is no exception to this trend. To create an alternative space of the main museum on the CUHK campus, the MoCC launched a virtual museum in its third year, which made use of the Internet to overcome physical boundaries and time constraints and allowed for pre-visits and post-visits to be carried out to supplement the in-person visits. The virtual museum proved its worth during the covid-19 pandemic, when in-person visits became impossible. We now even offer a virtual guided tour.
To further extend the physical reach of the museum, we introduced our Mobile MoCC in December 2017. This museum-on-the-go series is designed to disseminate climate change and sustainability messages by multimedia in an interactive, impactful manner. It uses portable modular structures that can be set up in a few hours, allowing MoCC exhibits to be taken to schools, community centres and other public spaces. This outreach approach has greatly extended the scope and reach of the museum’s public engagement.
As we are reaching the milestone of one million visitors, we would like to take the opportunity to thank our mentors, friends and supporters. The congratulatory messages they sent us will be shared on a dedicated webpage and on our social media pages, as a reminder to all of us of the importance of, and the need for, collaborative climate action to create a sustainable future.
- The Museum is the core platform to facilitate the localization, knowledge transfer and partnerships in relation to United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) which are a call for action by all countries to promote prosperity while protecting the planet. More important than ever, these goals provide a critical framework for COVID-19 recovery. The UN Secretary-General António Guterres said “We need to turn the recovery into a real opportunity to do things right for the future.” Please tell us about some of the Museum’s on going initiatives, partnerships, in this regard.
The MoCC believes that nurturing the next generation is the key to achieving a sustainable future. Therefore, we have initiated an SDG Ambassadorship programme for local secondary school students this year. The programme is designed to improve their understanding of the SDGs and how they address the global challenges facing us, including those brought by the covid-19 pandemic. It provides students with the opportunity to develop a strong sense of responsible global citizenship, voice their ideas for the advancement of SDGs, and become change agents in their communities.
- How was the Museum’s programming impacted by the ongoing corona virus pandemic? Did the museum implement digital/virtual programming https://bit.ly/2UA9tSq ?
We all can agree that 2020 was a year of challenges, innovation and introspection for all. Like those of other cultural institutions around the world, the MoCC’s operations were severely curtailed by the covid-19 pandemic, which forced us to close temporarily and reschedule or cancel our events and exhibitions. Our community outreach programmes were also affected due to school closures and other social distancing measures. At the same time, the rapid development around the world of remote teaching and learning techniques encouraged us to rethink the ways in which we promoted our collections. We responded by enhancing our digital offerings, so that visitors can continue to enjoy our virtual exhibitions, video workshops, online talks and ‘work from home’ student activities. Our 2016-born Virtual Tour has been turned into a handy venue from which we continue to offer a museum guide tour—but this time slightly differently—via video conferencing tools. Virtual exhibitions are even more fun to curate now. In addition to offering a digitized version of physically developed exhibitions, we launched a fully animated virtual exhibition—‘Living Greener’—in November 2020. As space is no longer a limitation, this virtual exhibition takes the art of exhibition curation to another level.
- What waste related initiatives does the Museum have that promotes United Nations’ SDG 12 – Responsible Consumption and Production – that aims to inspire the visitors to get involved in waste-reduction action and to live a green lifestyle?
We have several exhibitions and programmes which echo SDG 12.
- The HKJC Green Gallery at the MoCC presents initiatives that have helped stimulate new thinking on how to protect the environment in the local community. We hope that this will inspire visitors to become involved in waste-reduction action and to adopt a greener lifestyle.
- The MoCC’s school-based environmental education programme ‘Waste Reduction Project’ seeks to increase awareness among young people of Hong Kong’s waste problem and the need for environmentally sustainable waste management. Participating schools were challenged to examine their waste generation, identify ways of achieving zero waste, take action to reduce waste and (most importantly) encourage students to spread the message of ‘waste less, save more’ to their families and friends.
- The ‘Zero Waste, No Disgrace’ exhibition illustrates, with the aid of art installations, Hong Kong’s resource consumption and waste generation patterns, and showcases the outcomes of the ‘Waste Reduction Project’.
- The ‘Living Greener’ virtual exhibition explores the relationship between everyday life and today’s pressing global climate issues. It also suggests a range of practical things we can do to incorporate sustainability into our daily life.
- Where can visitors find latest developments in climate change and sustainable development issues so that they can get involved in carbon-reducing action and living a green and sustainable lifestyle https://www.mocc.cuhk.edu.hk/en-gb/hub?
The MoCC maintains a well-curated resource hub with an online collection of tools and resources to help people to ‘go green’. The Sustainability Hub offers a wide range of educational outreach materials that are being constantly updated to inspire individuals to take action to change their behaviour and adopt a more sustainable lifestyle. The Sustainability Hub is complemented by the Action Monitor. This online tool encourages individuals to set their own green targets through a checklist that covers a range of activities from carbon reduction to resource conservation and sustainable living (e.g. eating less meat and more vegetables), and to monitor their own progress towards them. Accomplishments recorded are recognized through a progressive e-badge scheme, which motivates commitment and guides development in terms of environmental stewardship.
Besides exploring these resources, interested individuals can also join ‘Friends of the Museum’, the MoCC’s membership programme, and follow our social media pages to access up-to-date information on climate change, our latest offerings and our green partners’ activities.
Cecilia Lam is the Chief Sustainability Officer of The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK). She is also the Founding Director of the Jockey Club Museum of Climate Change and the newly-established Social Responsibility and Sustainable Development Office at CUHK. With a portfolio including strategic planning and sustainability in higher education, she oversees the program operations of the Hong Kong Chapter of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN Hong Kong) and serves as a co-convenor of the Hong Kong Sustainable Campus Consortium.