BPCP Sustainability Program Receives AAM Sustainability Excellence Award

Rubi BaricuatroBalboa Park Cultural Partnership, Sustainability Program

The BPCP Sustainability Program is honored to be a 2017 recipient of the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) Sustainability Excellence Award for our Sustainability Studio, which was recognized as a model of sustainable exhibits.

The Sustainability Excellence Award is part of the AAM’s PIC Green program, which educates, facilitates and encourages green practices in museums. Balboa Park organizations have been among the winners and honorees in two of the years since the award was created in 2015. The San Diego Natural History Museum won in 2016 for its sustainable design and content of the Coast to Cactus in Southern California exhibition, and also received an honorable mention for implementing green practices in their PROBEA Smart Schools program in the Baja California Peninsula.

The Sustainability Studio was a pop-up exhibit highlighting sustainability projects and practices of BPCP member organizations. It was located in a gallery Balboa Park’s art district, Spanish Village, and was open to the public for three months beginning in October 2016.

The Sustainability Studio offered visitors two engagement activities. One was creating a “leaf” to add to the “Tree of Change.” After visitors traced their hands and wrote a pledge to be more sustainable in some facet of their lives, the “leaves” were added to the tree. The Tree of Change, which was constructed from used packing paper and a thrift store coat rack, grew fuller and fuller over time and was later displayed at the Climate Science Alliance – South Coast Art of Change gallery at the Pacific Beach Public Library. The other activity was a Sustainable Scavenger Hunt through the Park. Visitors could go on a photo hunt for sustainable features throughout the Park and report back to the Studio with their findings for a prize, such as a reusable bag or notebook made of recycled content.

BPCP also partnered with several non-profits. One of them, The Good Traveler program, enabled us to offer visitors the opportunity to offset their greenhouse gas emissions from their car or air travel to Balboa Park by purchasing a certified carbon offset for just $2. One dollar goes to a project that will balance out the environmental impact by reducing or sequestering greenhouse gases elsewhere and the other dollar goes toward supporting sustainability projects in Balboa Park. The Climate Science Alliance – South Coast offered some of their environmental community artwork for display in the Studio and we spotlighted their “10 Things I Can Do to Help” poster to inspire the making of leaves for the Tree of Change. Additionally, artists in the Spanish Village displayed inspiring artwork made from recycled, reused and re-purposed items to display in the Studio. This helped connect our sustainability messaging with the artistic context within which we were exhibiting.

Due to all of these efforts and others not mentioned here, the PIC Green panel wrote in our award letter, “Your example helps inspire other museums to be better stewards of the world we live in. In particular, the jury was impressed that in addition to using sustainable materials for exhibits, side programs and promotions further engaged partners and visitors. Interactive experiences and exhibit content are excellent model for future permanent display.” We hope to find a permanent space for a Balboa Park sustainability exhibit sometime in the future!

For photos and more information about the Sustainability Studio, visit the page here.